Updated: Oct 31, 2019
The beginning of every worthwhile venture in your life is messy, difficult, and sometimes kinda weird.
Think about the first time you tried eating a popsicle for instance.
"Wow..this is exciting and delicious
but it's melting so fast!
I have to enjoy it quickly..
soo much red sticky stuff on my face..
danggg all over the white shirt..
my fingers are literally stuck to this stick..
I made it to the end; this is so happy and simultaneously sad-
okay the last piece is gonna fall off so I have to eat this huge piece now!
"Wow. That was... wonderful." *wipes off hands, licks lips, and regrets nothing*
Looking back, this is how the start of a healthier lifestyle looked for me. Reaaaaal messy with some true difficulty, but so dang worth it. If you have yet to read my health journey, enlighten yourself here.
During the start of this lifestyle switch my 'food' had been coming out of plastic packages, cardboard boxes, and the bottom of frying pans. I had never heard of a thing called kale or even had a smoothie at this point in my life. Quinoa sounded like a foreign country to me. Exercise was an enemy of mine and I truly did not know how to cook much of anything. It took a lot of Google searches, videos, cookbooks, and seek-and-find discovery to figure out some key components of the holistic lifestyle I possess now. But the most inspirational aspect of this process to me, is to look back and see just how far I've come in only a couple years; life holds so much more for me to learn as I age- how beautiful is that?
You also have this wonderful gift in the forefront of your life - discovery.
The discovery of how to create joy in your life, seek pure love, and how to use your voice in a world that tries to suffocate those that speak out unabashedly for their needs.
This coming-of-age knowledge is what should keep us expectant and graceful about the aging process- not scared, hanging onto the youth and ignorance of life not-yet-lived.
Although I wouldn't change anything about my past (literally nothing), I do wish I would have known some key factors to prep my mind (and by that I mean my sanity) for the life changes coming my way. And this is what I want to give to you- some insight.
I can think of 20+ things I would tell myself then that I know now, but to keep this simple and easy to remember, I have sifted through my flow of ideas and picked the top five I feel you would benefit from.
This post isn't for you if you make your own green juice weekly, can name every vitamin and mineral in the fruit & vegetables you ate today, or just confirmed your cupping therapy session.
This post is for you if you are confused about what it means to be 'healthy', you want to feel or look better in your body but have no idea how food relates to that, or if you just don't understand how these wellness grammers can create vibrant looking meals with 15 different vegetables when you only know how to make green beans out of a can.
Hi, you! I'm here to help you get out of the canned vegetable stage. Much love.
#1. Small Steps Matter The Most
Let's start with some good news: compound interest.
Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal of a loan or deposit, or in other words, interest on interest. It is the result of reinvesting interest.
Don't worry, this isn't a quick finance lesson- I failed math ya'll.. find another blog for your investment purposes!
Compound interest works in finance, but it also applies to life.
You invest, slowly, and over time you create something much larger.
This takes patience and perseverance.
Health is a constant journey, not a destination. You start small. You invest- daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. You don't throw away all the effort invested when you *accidentally* eat a package of Oreos with a tub of cool whip. You just keep investing- your time, will-power, and dedication to being a healthier human. This will compound to vibrant health- full of knowledge and cooking techniques and kale. If you're into that.
But it won't compound into perfection. That will never come- so you can surrender that idea now.
I got super inspired the first time I read a RAW food cookbook- this chick was making pasta 'noodles' out of zucchini, ricotta cheese for lasagna out of cashews, and burger buns with portobello mushroom caps! Holy moly. Healthy was so much cooler and prettier than I previously thought. I was prepared to buy these ingredients and make these recipes- they looked and sounded so freakin good! But I had no idea where to find a portobello cap in the grocery store, or how to shape my zucchini into noodle like strings.. slice with a knife? push it through a strainer? shred with a fork?
I wanted to jump in headfirst and make amazing things that actually take some practice and definitely some prior knowledge. (Like using a machine to make the noodles, you can't actually do that by hand!)
It got me frustrated and feeling defeated, when I hadn't actually even tried to cook anything yet.
So, I let go of my crazy cooking expectations and searched for foods that I knew came from the earth and didn't have any excess chemicals or ingredients. I googled how to cook spinach on the stove, how to season black beans, and the best way to make a moist chicken breast. And I did it. I cooked that. I started very, very simple.
Instagram, restaurants, and some fancy cook books will definitely inspire you and have you yearning to cook meals that look and taste like that, but these meals generally take a little prior knowledge to make and some practice working with whole foods!
The takeaway here:
Start by eating simple. Have patience in the process of learning to feed yourself well.
Plant-based foods, fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, grains, lots of water, and grass-fed meat. Avoid the boxes, packages, and fake ingredients. One day you will learn to make a smoothie, and then possibly some from-scratch soup, and then maybe some spiralized vegetables for noodles ;)
#2: Exercise Has To Be On Your Own Terms
I currently work-out at the gym an average of four times a week, and I make sure to get some kind of 'movement' in daily. This sometimes includes dancing around in my underwear. No shame.
I also love to hike, swim in the ocean, play recreational sports, take long walks (yes obviously on the beach), and I'm always down to snowboard or surf.
Before this current stage of my life- I seriously did not like exercise. Growing up, I was definitely active, because swimming in the little metal pool, riding bikes, and jumping on my trampoline for hours was actually fun. But once I got to the point in life where I wanted to exercise because I heard it was 'good for me' and because I wanted to gets abs I could show off in my bikini- I wasn't into it.
I was always told in school and through all my outlets of information as a young girl that exercise meant lots of cardio- i.e. becoming a runner or doing an elliptical bike for hours. Other than that it was push-ups, crunches, and other stuff that just hurt my neck or back in the positions I was doing.
I would try to do the 'right' things- run around my block for 20 minutes, do a VHS tape (shoutout to the 90's kids!) that involved 100 crunches in 3 minutes, or follow along to a really intense cardio workout like my mom did. Some people can force themselves into doing things they don't really like, but I am just wired this way- if I can't find ANY reason to like it and/or my body isn't comfortable with it- I just will not do it. No matter how much willpower I muster up.
My body always seemed so weak and uncomfortable when I exercised.
I got stomach pains, my neck would really hurt doing crunches, my legs would cramp up from running, and I just felt really fatigued the whole time.
So I settled with the idea that working out was for some types of people, and not for others.
And I was in the latter group.
Here's the secret to this whole work-out thing:
Just because I love the gym, does not mean you will.
Just because I hate running, does not mean you will.
Just because CrossFit seems like a good idea to some people, it really shouldn't to anyone...
Okay, kidding on the last one!
You really have to find something you like. There are SO MANY OPTIONS that I never knew existed or even remotely imagined would be considered exercise!
Roller-blading, walking, pilates, dance classes, group fitness classes, cycling classes, running, skateboarding, swimming, recreational sports, lifting weights, rock-climbing, workout videos online and so much more.
You have to experiment.
You cannot say for certain that you know and understand anything in this life, until you've had an experience yourself.
To say you hate exercise is a very broad declaration;
Do you hate dancing?
Do you despise rock-climbing?
Are you against taking long walks with friends?
You will not know, until you try it!
People are made unique. Different. Fearfully and wonderfully made, actually.
This means that you can't be stuffed into this box of ideas such as
'the gym is where you have to be if you want to be in shape and healthy.'
Who told you that? This person/book/media outlet does not live in your body.
They do not experience what you do in this life.
They do not breathe the same breath, or have the same exact life-pumping vessel inside their chest.
The reality is: they do not know you, and they can not define you.
Whoa, that got deep.. That statement actually applies to all of your identity..
But it especially applies to the aspect of finding movement you personally enjoy doing in life.
Another quick note on this topic:
The real secret to feeling better while working out, is cleaning up your diet.
I often want to stack up boxes at the gym, stand on top of them, and scream this at the top of my lungs to the people working out.
It's not because I want to be a know-it-all, it's because I want to share information that I desperately needed to know a few years ago.
The stomach fat that I just couldn't shake even when doing crunches every single day?
It finally disappeared when I stopped drinking soda and cut my sugar intake down.
The stomach cramps I felt every time I became active?
No longer have them because I stopped eating fried food and junk every day before exercising.
The chronic fatigue I experienced after running around the block once or doing a few push-ups?
Learning to fuel my body with clean protein, healthy fats (I love you avocado), and tons of water- I've gained excess energy during my work-outs!
Exercising becomes much more enjoyable and you see results much quicker once you start giving your body the nutrients it needs to function at maximum capacity.
The takeaway here:
Don't let your mindset be so narrow about exercise that you never make an effort to do it.
Find something you sincerely enjoy, whether it be alone or with a partner or a whole group of people, and be open to trying new types of movement-based activities to discover this for yourself.
Clean up your diet so that your body will function well during activity and you can reap maximum benefits from exercising!
#3: The World Is Not For You, It Is Against You
You've probably figured this out by now, unless you haven't.
I hate to be the bearer of negative news.. I truly do. I tend to see the world in a positive light and avoid conflict, evil, and hate as much as possible.
But, I wish someone had told me this truth pertains to my health.
So now I am burdened to share it with you.
If you are already aware of this, you've probably realized it from the way the media lies to us, how money matters first and people matter second, and as soon as you enter the world of politics-
you know what's up.
Thankfully, we don't have to look to this world for love, affirmation, or acceptance of any sort- because we were not made for this world at all. There is a new world coming- a beautiful, perfect creation in which we never have to watch our backs again. Jesus promises us that.
When it comes to discovering the truth of food and natural living in the worldview- it's incredibly disheartening.
My first taste of this was when I learned about food being organic.
I read a book about juicing, and so there was a lot of information on why it's important to buy organic fruit and vegetables. One reason is when you buy conventional fruits and vegetables they are exposed to pesticides, or chemicals that are being sprayed onto our food.
*Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body?*
Okay, that sucks.
So, our food has harmful chemicals on it that are toxic to our body and this is something the government is okay with?
Oh, and those chemicals cause all kinds of diseases, especially cancer??
I thought the government was looking to fight cancer and lower healthcare costs, not allow us to eat substances that literally create disease in our bodies...
And you mean to tell me that the government has actually signed bills to endorse companies who use some of the worst kinds of chemicals on our food?
...And the best country on earth allows us to consume substances that other countries have deemed illegal due to the effects on brain function?
I never knew... until I did.
These injustices run deep in the food industry.
Attending Integrative Institute of Nutrition and having the top educators in the country teach me about these issues have opened my eyes into a black tunnel of evil that resides within our food industry and food distribution in America.
These issues start in our politics, and of course the motivator is generally money.
Aside from the government corruption, the food industries that provide most of our boxed and packaged foods are poisoning us daily.
Companies including Kraft, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Heinz, Kelloggs, Hershey's, PepsiCo, and Nestle. These companies have been found to add over 12 chemicals at a time to their products including excessive dyes, metal, and lead. 'Food' we eat and feed our children.
Let's step away from food for the moment.
The conventional products we use daily- house-cleaners, soaps, deodorant, make-up, laundry detergent- all have incredibly harmful chemicals and additives as well.
Have a skin rash you can't seem to shake?
Could be your detergent and the extra dye and fragrance added.
Intense acne no matter what face wash you use?
It could actually be the face-wash itself laden down with chemicals that clog your pores.
Under-arms get itchy and red even when you don't sweat?
Most likely the deodorant you use filled with aluminum.
Terrible allergies and congestion daily?
Maybe it's your perfume that's actually just a cocktail of chemicals you breathe in all day.
Keep getting cavities even though you brush your teeth religiously?
Probably the fluoride in your tooth paste breaking your tooth enamel down, although you've been told it is actually beneficial for your teeth.
Who the heck knew?!
I definitely did not.
The more I learned about my seemingly normal use of daily life products and the consumption of these foods, I felt incredibly betrayed. I had been lied too, my whole life.
And the consequences of these lies were causing me to live in a body riddled with chemicals feeling sick and tired with skin rashes, allergies, headaches, and poor health.
The takeaway here:
It took me time to learn all of these things.
I don't want you to have to learn this gradually over a long period of time and sift through articles, books, and research to understand this thought. I want you to know now, because you deserve truth.
The food and marketing companies want your money, and will gladly sacrifice your health to get it.
The government does not have your best interest in mind, and will not advocate for your health.
You must become knowledgable.
You must read labels and learn what is positive and negative for your body.
You must understand that choosing to live a life free of pesticides, chemicals, and disillusion takes knowledge and commitment.
You will reap loads of benefits from putting this knowledge into practice and will be so grateful you have the option to make choices of your own instead of the ones you've only ever known.
#4: You Don't Have To Be Rich To Be Healthy
When I first started trying out really crazy recipes that called for items such as acai fruit, special cooking oils, and high-priced organic ingredients I became discouraged. They were so expensive.
I was pretty broke and just trying to save money for a snowboard..
I was used to spending five bucks at Taco Bell, and less than a couple dollars on some chips and candy to have 'food'. I couldn't fathom spending $10 for 4 pieces of frozen acai.
But it's really just a myth that you have to be wealthy to buy quality whole foods. I was jumping the gun and trying to buy things that were really luxury items in the health food realm- just like you would occasionally buy a chocolate cake for $20 and not feel bad about it;
that's the idea when buying something like acai fruit to make yourself special smoothie bowls occasionally.
I have thrift shopped my whole life. My parents participated in flea markets and owned a re-sale store at one point. I am obsessed with garage sales (STL has the best in the U.S. I think...) and I am a pro at finding great clothes, furniture, and fun stuff at thrift stores. So having a thrifty background already, I was determined to figure out the deals, tips, and tricks to eating well on a budget.
Maybe someday I will make a blog post dedicated to that specifically, but here are some of the main ideas you should know when going to the grocery store.
You can buy some miscellaneous fruits or a small package of nuts for the same price as a bag of chips and candy.
Buying things in bulk- such as oats, beans, grains, etc. will save you a ton of money.
Although it's ideal to buy everything organic, it's not practical for most people.
This is why the Dirty Dozen list is an amazing tool to utilize. This list tells you the foods that rank the highest on pesticides and chemicals. Using this as a guide to buy the most chemically-laden items organic will help you feel confident that you have made the best decision possible on picking which foods to buy organic. You can find the list at https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php.
Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is generally cheaper, and they are just as good for you- if not better. They are frozen at peak levels of development, and therefore have the highest nutrition content. Holla!
Utilize farmers markets. You most likely have one or a few in your community.
You can score great deals and local produce tastes better and supports your community farmers!
Shop around at different stores.
Unless you are fortunate to have a cheap store that provides you with everything you need at the best price, which is unlikely for most, you should be scanning different grocery stores for different prices. For instance, I get a lot of my staple items such as olive oil, peanut butter, coconut sugar, etc. at Walmart, because I have found they sell these items the cheapest. But they do not carry everything I need, and so I shop at other stores as well. It takes some time but you learn which store has what items at the best price and quality. Some organic options are insanely cheaper at different stores, and only certain stores sell things like tofu or dates. You can make a list of everything you need from one specific place, and a list for another. It's worth the extra time, to save the extra $100.
The last thing I want to note here is that even though at times you will, yes, spend more for a bag of organic spinach rather than a bag of chips, it is worth investing your money into something that will support and nourish your body- or else you will invest much more into doctor visits, hospital bills, and medicine costs later on.
The takeaway here:
Healthy does not equal wealthy.
You can eat whole foods on a budget.
Take time to learn your grocery store(s) and find the best deals, and use the dirty dozen to make the best choices on organic foods.
#5. Changing Your Diet Will Make You Happier
Food doesn't fix everything.
It can't change your abusive relationship, get your brother out of prison, or give you a better career.
But, it can and does change your mental health.
I think knowing this a long time ago, would have been a huge motivator for me to try it sooner.
I was often depressed, not clinically- but mostly because of the way my body felt. A lot of pain and sickness will wear your spirit down, no matter how much positivity you possess.
I was also an angrier person than I am now.
Very defensive, emotionally attached to everything and anything, and ready to be offended at any negative attitude someone else had towards me.
Fixing these issues took inner work, a relationship with my Creator who is teaching me the ways of peace and harmony in the face of adversity, and also exercise.
But food was really one of the biggest catalysts in my mental health changes.