Did you wake up on January 1, 2013 with a gung-ho attitude that quickly turned into a ho-hum attitude? Did you get a gym membership that hasn’t been used in weeks? Do your running shoes or yoga mats feel neglected? Do you have produce rotting in your fridge? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this blog is for you.
2 years, 2 months and 2 days ago, I woke up on January 1, 2011 with good intentions and a list of “Resolutions.” My weight had crept dangerously to 180 pounds (I am 5’5”, which means I was considered obese with a BMI of 30). So, naturally, the blaring words “LOSE WEIGHT,” graced the top of my Resolution List, as it did for thousands of others. And like thousands of others, I failed.
I did lose a little, I got down to 173 pounds. But overall, it just didn’t work, as Resolutions rarely do. Putting pressure on yourself often ends in failure. As does giving yourself an expiration date, i.e. “I must lose 20 pounds by June 1st.”
Although I had a bad start, 2011 was still my year and 2013 can still be yours. It doesn’t have to start on January 1st. How about today?
Nearly two months after I set that Resolution, I was sitting around, stuffing my face when I saw a photo of myself that made me realize I needed to get serious. I vowed that moment to get healthy and stay healthy for the rest of my life – no big start date, and no expiration date. Fast forward 2 years, and I am still keeping that promise to myself. I have never kept my weight off this long. And since starting this journey of eating clean and plant-strong, I have not suffered any illnesses. No colds, no flu, no bronchitis, not even one sniffle or sore throat. That is quite the perk for a once very sickly person.
For those who don’t know, here’s a bit of my background. In the past 10 years, I have sampled a plethora of popular programs and diets in my seemingly never-ending quest to lose the fat and get healthy. Calorie counting, Fitness apps, South Beach, The Zone, Adkins, etc. I also tried Weight Watchers 7 times (a mixture of meetings and doing it myself at home). I lost weight, then gained it back. I lost weight, then gained it back. I lost weight, then gained it back. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
Every diet program I ever tried ultimately failed. I finally realized why, and I’m happy to share my findings. It’s very simple. DIETS DO NOT WORK. Why? Because most diet programs are either too restrictive, or allow one to continue eating anti-foods, which are proven to be as addictive as street drugs. Anti-foods have high sugar and fat (the wrong kind of fat), artificial ingredients/sweeteners, preservatives, chemicals, and toxins. The perfect recipe for failure. And fail I did. Over and over again.
I did join Weight Watchers for my final attempt, as most of you already know. The program can indeed work, especially if you eat plant-strong and eliminate the anti-foods (including their brand-name frozen dinners) and ignore the recommendation to drink 3 glasses of cow milk per day (not healthy!). I proved this by making Lifetime Membership for the first time in my long history with Weight Watchers. As such, I do still recommend Weight Watchers for those who feel they need something to hold themselves accountable. But truth be told, all you really need is a reboot with real food, which will change your taste buds and set you up for success. After that, simple education and treating your body right is key.
And thus begins my recommendations for making 2013 YOUR YEAR.
1. Cleanse, Detox, Reboot
There is no better way to get started on your journey to good health than by detoxing. It offers a clean plate, so to speak. A fresh start. It changes your taste buds and gives you clarity. If you haven’t seen it yet (is there really anyone who hasn’t yet seen it?), watch “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” You can watch it free of charge on Hulu! Click HERE. Joe Cross and Phil Staples, the stars of the film, inspired me to try juice fasting as a means to detox, which changed my life forever.
Cleansing and Rebooting has become very well-known, and there are numerous guided programs now offered. If you’re not sure which one to choose, here are a few I highly recommend.
New Earth out of Austin, Texas offers a variety of cleanses. I know the owners personally, and admire their vast knowledge on the subject, as well as their passion to heal people. I also recommend their delicious raw/vegan snacks! The Chipotle Chia crackers and Almond Inspiration are my favorites!
Click their logo to learn more about their cleanse programs…
Christy Morgan, The Blissful Chef, is not only an accomplished cookbook author, but also the brains behind “Wellness Reboot.” This online program offers great advice, recipes, workouts and more.
Here’s what Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine, had to say about this program: “Wellness Reboot has everything you need to change your life and reach your peak. You’ll get the facts about foods and health, with tips for making a diet transition easy, and absolutely fabulous menus and recipes, all infused with Christy’s irresistible energy. Chad brings you the smart way to work out, tailoring a program that will work for you, even if you’ve felt intimidated by old-fashioned exercise routines. As a doctor, I’ve long been a fan of Christy’s approach to health and nutrition, and I’m thrilled that Wellness Reboot lets people everywhere jump in to health.”
Click their logo to learn more about the Wellness Reboot…
Want a quickie cleanse? If you cannot afford a juicer, or you shudder at the thought of not chewing, but still wish to cleanse, do not despair. You can cleanse your body and detox by eating delicious food, too! My fellow wellness warrior, Chef Amber Shea, has created an eBook just for you!
Click on the photo below to check it out…
2. Eat More Plants, Become a Nutritarian
You’ve conquered a Cleanse, your taste buds have changed, and you’re ready to ditch the Standard American Diet altogether. It’s time to eat more plants! Blend them, juice them, eat them, I don’t care how you do it, just get more PLANTS in your body. Less packaged food, more fresh food. It’s quite simple!
I took baby steps with this part, and I recommend you do the same. Start by reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman‘s book, “Eat to Live.” Don’t like to read? You can get it on CD! Transform your daily commute into inspirational education. Soon, you will be eating like a “Nutritarian” and everything will change.
I also recommend learning about “Clean Eating,” via Tosca Reno and her book “The Eat Clean Diet Recharged.” Eliminating toxins, chemicals and artificial foods from your diet will offer clarity, energy and better health in general. You may find that you don’t get sick as much, or suffer from common headaches and the like.
After you start eating clean and adopt a Nutritarian lifestyle, you may find that animal-based foods don’t work well in your body, as I discovered for myself. My plant-based diet is delicious and filling, and I never feel deprived. Of course, I am a realist, and I know the whole world isn’t going to give up animal products. To my omnivore friends, I say this: Just try it. If you seriously decrease the animal foods and seriously increase the plant foods, you will feel lighter, clearer, and happier. And for many people, after they eliminate it altogether, they really shine. I am aware that we are all bioindividual, but I truly believe that a diet made of mostly, or entirely, plant foods will save our health and our planet.
Then give your kitchen a makeover. Slowly remove the anti-foods and fill the newly-empty gaps with plants. I started with green smoothies. They can be quite delicious, and even kids like them. Although a VitaMix is expensive compared to other blenders, once you use one, you’ll understand why.
The VitaMix blender was my first purchase in my journey to good health, and I knew it was worth the money after just 3 days of drinking the perfectly-blended green smoothies that came out of it. Why? Because I would have paid any amount of money to feel that good. I was already giving my doctors a disgusting sum of money to provide me with prescriptions that only cost me more money (and didn’t fix my problems). Why not spend it on something that could possibly get me off those medications? And that’s just what it did! I also make hummus, soups, dips and more in my VitaMix.
Worth. Every. Penny.
You can save money by purchasing a Refurbished VitaMix blender from their website. Both of my sisters have the Refurbished blenders and love them, they work perfectly and even come with a warranty. See HERE. Many Bed, Bath and Beyond stores also carry them and have been known to allow the customer to use their 20% off coupon, even though the coupon says it cannot be applied to VitaMix.
3. Practice Love, Acceptance and Gratitude
Love yourself! Don’t sabotage yourself from the get-go with negative self-talk. And STOP focusing on what you’re doing wrong and celebrate what you’re doing right. Daily affirmations do wonders, as do what I like to call “Smile Sessions.”
That’s right, Smile Sessions! Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. You smile at everyone else, but never yourself. Think about it. I’m right, aren’t I? Studies prove that smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, brings about happy and positive feelings. Just try it. I felt cheesy at first, and ended up laughing. But I kept doing it, and then started saying kind things to myself during my Smile Sessions. I realized I had never done that, either. I have said plenty of mean things to myself, to be sure. But kind words, never. Ms. Clark gave a good example, from the movie The Help: You is kind. You is smart. You is important. Yes, I is! And so much more!
Accept yourself and others. Have you ever looked in the mirror and said, “Gosh, I’m fat,” or “Ugh, I wish I could change ____ about myself.” Or perhaps you have spoken of others in this way. What feelings did that evoke within you? Answer: negativity, guilt, sadness, and anger. I know from experience. So what types of feelings do you think a Smile Session full of kind affirmations would evoke within you? Answer: positivity, love, happiness, and peacefulness. I know from experience. I now smile in every mirror I pass by. It’s not vanity. It’s self love. And we all need more of that.
Be grateful, even for the smallest things in life. Stop wanting for what you don’t have, and appreciate what you do have. Gratitude keeps you grounded, and brings about positive thoughts. When we have a positive attitude, we are less likely to binge eat. I have something called a Gratitude Journal, which I keep on my bedside table. Go to a bookstore and pick out a journal that suits you, it’s fun! I even got one for my husband. He uses it often and also finds in helpful in chasing away negative thoughts.
Before bed, I write down three things for which I am grateful. Otherwise known as the “Three Blessings Exercise.” This is especially helpful for those who have trouble falling asleep due to negative thoughts or racing mind. When you focus on your blessings in life, it’s nearly impossible to entertain a negative thought. Just try it. Here are a few entries taken from my own Gratitude Journal.
4. Go Inside
Inside your mind, that is. I highly recommend meditation. It will restore your inner calm and give you peace. And you can do it almost anywhere! I often use meditation for naughty food cravings and it works every time. If you suffer from panic attacks, stress or anxiety, meditation can be your new Xanax. Yes, really. And no harmful side affects.
My husband lovingly called me a “hippie” when he saw me meditating around the house. That is, until he tried it. The morning of his PhD Defense, he was so anxious and stressed out, he barely spoke. I could see the panic and dread in his eyes. He longed for a stress pill, like a Xanax, to calm his nerves. I told him to sit down with me on the floor, and I would provide an all-natural “Xanax,” that would leave him refreshed, clear and calm. When he saw me get into my meditation pose, he paused, one eyebrow lifted suspiciously. I asked him to open his mind and simply trust me. He complied. 10 minutes later, he opened his eyes and softly said the word, “Wow.” We practiced a few breathing episodes on the way to his meeting, too. After his successful defense, he thanked me several times, and agreed that meditation is indeed like an all-natural Xanax. If it worked for my skeptical husband, it will work for anyone.
Having an inner peace through meditation does wonders for weight loss and overall health, too. As you may be learning from this blog, being healthy is so much more than what we eat. If you want a healthy body for the rest of your life, you will also need a healthy, positive mind.
Meditation also costs nothing. You don’t even need to purchase a meditation CD. I have Pandora One on my iPhone and I use the meditation station. Or, I visit YouTube and type “Meditation Music” and choose from one of the many offered. I also enjoy this music when I’m writing in my Gratitude Journal or any time I want to feel more peaceful and calm (great for being stuck in traffic jams).
If you crave more information on this subject, I highly recommend this easy-to-read, influential book that will offer a clear introduction to mindfulness and meditation. See HERE.
Finally, watch this short video to learn how to meditate.
5. Have Fun
Make time to do the things that make you happy. We tend to be busy constantly, and I’m not excluding myself here. Get out and have fun! Preferably the type of fun that does not revolve completely around food or alcohol (slippery slope!). Go to ball games with friends. Join a rock climbing or kayaking group. Start a fun exercise class with a friend. Go camping. Plant a garden. Go hiking in a State Park. Start a blog. Sign up for a healthy cooking class. Go boating. Walk dogs at your local animal shelter. And most importantly, stop spending hours on Facebook and Twitter and go live a real life full of activity and joy.
6. Make New Friends
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. You are ready for a real, positive life change. If your current friends aren’t cool with this, find new friends. I’m not telling you to ditch your old friends, although that is sometimes necessary. Sometimes, we must flick the negative and nasty people off the face of our world. Life is too short to spend it with people who don’t support, love and accept you.
Find a like-minded group via MeetUp.com, or even start your own! Host a healthy potluck for your new friends, or a movie/game night. Go on Retreats. I have met some truly amazing people this way.
7. Find Your Favorite Workout
I used to hop on my treadmill and run. I would watch the numbers go by, longing for the “End of Workout” to appear. What fun is that? Studies show that people who run outside have less stress. This varies person to person, of course. Some folks love their treadmills, and more power to them! For me, it was boring and I always ended up quitting. Finding something you love is essential in this journey.
Although what we eat affects our body’s profile more than anything, exercise is indeed important. It adds muscle tone, keeps your heart healthy, and decreases stress levels. I love yoga, running, rock climbing and kayaking. Find your passion and it will never feel like exercise. You’ll actually look forward to it.
8. Reach Out
Losing weight and/or getting healthy can be difficult on your own. Most people do need help. Ask for help from your friends and family members, and consider seeking out a Holistic Health Counselor, also known as a Wellness or Health Coach. Find one your area by clicking HERE.
9. Hide the Scale
If you’re the type of person who gets upset if the scale doesn’t reflect how hard you’ve worked, ditch the scale. Do not let a little piece of mechanical junk dictate how you’re going to feel that day. If you want to track your progress, allow ONLY one weigh-in per month. And take your measurements only once per month as well. I know many people who don’t like what they see on the scale after just one week, and quit.
10. Keep a Journal
This is different from the 3-Blessings Exercise. I often keep a Food Journal, wherein I write down everything I eat in a day, and how the meal made me feel. I don’t count the calories and whatnot, I simply write down what food I ate and the result of consuming it. One day, I drank a green smoothie for breakfast, enjoyed a marinated raw broccoli and quinoa lunch, and then ate a huge piece of cake from the Spiral Diner (my fav treat). After my breakfast entry, I wrote “Wow, I feel incredible. I have positive thoughts and a lot of energy. I am smiling for no apparent reason.” After lunch I wrote something quite similar. After my snack (the slab of sugar and fat-filled cake), I wrote “I feel tired, depressed and anxious. I am having some negative thoughts and can’t seem to calm them. Damn you, sugar!” The next time I thought about running over there and getting another piece of cake, all I had to do was open my Food Journal and read that entry again. I devoured a mango instead. My sweet tooth was happy, and I was happy.
In closing, don’t wait for a perfect day, like January 1st, or the 1st of any month, for that matter. Start TODAY. Make March 3, 2013 your day!
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To Your Good Health,