If you read my previous post you recently learned how in love with Minnesota I have become and also how in love lust with its state fair food I have become. Last year I went to the fair six days before my wedding day and didn’t taste one single thing. Not even a bite. This was my version of healthy and it is pretty much how I chose to live every single day. People can survive on cereal and celery right? Wrong. I was so selfishly wrong. At that time, my future mother-in-law tried her absolute hardest to find me something to enjoy. Researching every stand, looking up the nutrition content of a bowl of frozen yogurt with fruit. Frozen yogurt with fruit. Outside of the fair she went out of her way at dinner time [we were living in Nick’s parent’s basement at the time] to buy organic chicken, produce, and pretty much that whole section of the grocery store to make me smile. And I still didn’t.
Food was my enemy. Exercise was my medicine. And somehow two of the most healthful things in life completely destroyed me.
One year and 17 pounds lost later, I walked into the fair having every intention to let my tastebuds explore. It is natural for me to crave healthy foods so I was very thankful for salmon wraps and cold press. I was also thankful for pork chops and lemonade and Sweet Martha’s Cookies, however. Last year, I left the fair feeling hungry and tired and down right depressed with my life. This year I am thankful for stretchy leggings and Mocha on a stick. I’m laughing now because honestly, my life probably can’t get much sweeter than coffee on a stick.
Yesterday, we took Beretta to the park and walked the short mile loop by the river. My body was feeling rather sore from my eight mile run the day before but it was also feeling malnourished. I thought to myself, I have been resting my legs between runs and I have had my fair share of food lately, why do I feel like something is missing? I sat on the grass, folded my legs, and took breaths. I reminded myself what healthy feels like. I thought about nutritious meals and shorter workouts. I thought about routines. I touched my belly, smaller than ever yet feeling embarrassed about some of the foods that I’ve given it. Inevitably, I looked at Nick and told him that it'stime to start fresh. No more fair foods and no more long runs until I start giving my body what it needs. Bless his heart. He has dealt with more diets and more tears than I would ever like to admit yet somehow he has helped me dissect what being healthy really is and he has done so with more patience and support for every half a pound lost than I could ever ask for.I smiled this time because instead of tears I was, in that moment, performing the very first act of living a healthy and balanced life.
- Listen to your body. I sat cross-legged, one hand resting on my thigh, one hand holding my sacred Starbucks coffee. I felt my arms against my sides, my muscular legs against the earth. It had just been one of those weeks where I hadn’t felt so hot about myself to begin with, but in the midst of things I was reminded that being sensitive and emotional can be a good thing. What normally would have sent me into an anxious frenzy of restricting my calorie intake and exercising twice a day has left me with the ability to trust. Trust myself to learn, to listen, to recognize what my body was trying to tell me and make adjustments when needed. There I sat in my skin-clinging clothes, ones that show every curve my body reflects, and I listened. Hearing what your body needs can be difficult. Your emotions might be screaming for a run but your mind may need rest. Your stomach might be growling for sugar but every part of you might need whole foods. The trick is to listen, really listen, for what you need. When we learn to listen we also learn to respond and with the right response comes results.
- Food is medicine. Whether you’re fighting fatigue, searching for ways to boost your immune system, or recovering from an illness, doctors often recommend healthy lifestyle changes and most of the time this begins with nutrition. Food is the ultimate healer and this is such an amazing claim that sometimes it’s hard to even believe. Food is more than just what we crave and put into our bodies. It is more than feeling nourished and energized. It is how our skin looks. It is how we feel both mentally and physically. It effects our hormones and even more than that, every single system in our bodies. From thousands of years ago to now, food is by far the most powerful and substantial part of life and I think this is something that is too often overlooked.
- Actions speak louder than words. Understanding that you don’t need to run a marathon to be healthy can completely change your outlook on healthy living. It starts with the decision to want to feel better. Sure, we all want to look better and nothing will probably motivate a person more than actually seeing the results. We need to recognize, however, that feeling better is just as powerful. Let me ask you something. If you decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator every day or park in the very back of the parking lot every where you went, would you necessarily look better after ten days? Probably not. You would probably begin to feel better, though. Our society places such a high standard of what we should look like that people are willing to take drastic measures to get that way. Health, true and vital health, comes with time. It comes with making small decisions that will impact the bigger picture. It comes with the act of doing and not seeing. Again, if you walk one mile today it probably will not change the scale tomorrow. It will, however, help you begin to feel better. Instead of asking yourself how you want to look, focus on how you want to feel.
There you have it. My three healthy living tips for the day. Maybe this was more of a reminder for myself than anything. Maybe this was me trying my absolute hardest to trust my heart and not my mind. Which ever the case, I think it’s important to remember that there is always time to focus on our health because in essence, it is our state of health in this very moment that gives us life.