Out of the Fog – Part Two

Welcome back for Part Two of my journey to health through nutrition. If you missed Part One, you can find it, here.

Yesterday, I wrote that I had at least one home-cooked meal every day, and that is true. I am so grateful for having that family time each night, I think that a meal at home with your family is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

One thing I have learned over the years however, is that while we’re marketed to by companies selling delicious, easy-to-make meals…home cooked does not always equal healthy. In fact, it does not always even equal healthier than a fast food joint.

At the time, what I was eating didn’t come from a fast food joint, so I thought that it was healthy food. We ate a lot of all-but-pre-made type of meals; think Skillet Sensations, Hamburger Helper, anything Schwans and Better Crocker Complete Meals. I also thought that the crackers, pretzels and popcorn that I snacked on everyday were healthy. I was never overweight, so that was another indicator that I was eating healthy, right?

Looking back, I fueled my body almost completely with processed food products full of sodium, cholesterol and refined carbs. Yummy…sure. But certainly not good fuel for the world’s most amazing machine!

Over the last four years I’ve found myself responding to someone’s question about how I am with, “Good, just tired” less and less. It was actually reading a friend’s string of Facebook posts that mostly talked about being exhausted, tired, sick, and down (every. single. day) that really got me thinking about how rarely I feel any of those things. Rare is the day that after I’m up and going, I actually consider myself to be tired.

I’ve also had nearly no stomach issues. Well…unless you count anything dealing with a long run or a road race…but that’s a different story.

Thinking back to how I used to feel, all the time, how I feel now is like waking up that first day after a bad virus has left your system. I feel awake, alert and ready to take on whatever the day brings.

Some people say that a large portion of how you feel is genetic, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The doctors trying to diagnose me for so many years tried to tell me that too, that maybe I just needed to accept feeling the way I did. I have to respectfully pull the B.S. card on that one my friends. I will write more on this at some point, but the reason I cannot believe that how I feel is in anyway simply genetic, is that I do not know my genetics. I was adopted and have absolutely no idea what my medical history may be. The bottom line is…it doesn’t matter. My birth parents may be professional athletes. They may have both passed away already from diabetes or heart disease. I will not live in fear or with the crutch of, “It must just be genetic.”

Whatever the case may be, I refuse to believe I do not have control over how I feel on a regular basis. Instead, I choose to research and learn about food and fitness. I absolutely believe that the way a generally-healthy (i.e. no chronic health diagnoses) person feels on a day-to-day basis is directly related to what they eat and what they do. 80/20 respectively. Food is the giant in that ratio. I cannot stress that enough.

Some people will say that food and fitness are equally important. I disagree. I believe the ratio above is more accurate. Here is why:

  • What we eat directly affects what our bodies can do. I tell my daughter that what we eat is like the gas that goes into a car. How far is your car going to get on a tank full of diesel…or on a completely empty gas tank? If we fail to eat properly before, during and after our activities, we will never be able to reach our cardiovascular or strength goals. Period.
  • While we need physical activity to be healthy, our bodies cannot function and support that physical activity with wacked-out hormones. Wacked-out hormones (in an otherwise healthy person) come from a wacked-out diet.
  • In less than one minute, you can put over 1000 calories into your body. That same amount of calories would take the average woman 1.5  hours to burn off if they were doing a high-intensity cardio activity, such as running. The. Entire. Time. That is in no way, equal.

I am the absolute poster child for why it is important to eat a healthy diet. My body all but gave up on me, until I started fueling it the way it needed. All sorts of emotions take over me when I see people around me struggling with exhaustion and sickness that simple dietary (and fitness) changes could help to alleviate. I feel sad for them, angry, empathetic. This is the number one reason for writing this blog.

If this is you, if you or someone you love is feeling the way I did for so many years, there is relief for you. The first step is to visit your doctor and rule out any serious health concerns that may be leading to the way you’re feeling. For so many of us though…the doctors just don’t have the answers we’re looking for. I am not a diagnosis. I am a person.

The next step is more difficult. You have to make a choice.

Will you choose to continue to live in ignorance about the diesel you’re putting in your unleaded tank? Or will you choose to educate yourself and your family about simple changes that can lead to a better life?

What comes next is trial and error. It took years for me to learn what I needed to (and I still am learning) know in order to feel the way I do now. First, read all that you can about health and nutrition (here and here are great places to start) from people who are much more educated than myself on the topic, and then you find what works for you. It is a process, but one well worth the time.

Remember this, food is nothing more than fuel for your body, but also know that it is something to enjoy! Everyone has something (or a bunch of somethings) they love and are unwilling to give up. That is ok, learn how to embrace those things, and enjoy them in moderation. I certainly have my own list of somethings!

In doing so, make sure you have your own definition of what exactly food is to you. Know that everyone’s definition will be different. Mine is very simple and is the basis for what changed my life. Food is fuel. Food is something that either has or had a mother, or something that grew out of the ground. If there is any question to this, it has man-made properties to it. At the very least, those properties should be pronounceable by a middle school aged child and should not be artificially created in a science lab.

This is not a “how to” guide. It is a “why to” guide. Proper nutrition changed my life. It allowed me to get out of the fog I’d been living in for so long. It took away pain and exhaustion that had literally crippled my life, and along with hard work and amazing people in my life, has given me the ability to triumph in every goal I have set for myself.

What could it do for you?

2 Comments to “Out of the Fog – Part Two”

  1. Brilliant. Just found your blog and definitely intend to follow it. I am new to the IBS world. Boo. But, desperate to make it work with my life. That means, cooking, running, and being happy.

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