I am a cooking teacher, first and foremost. I get asked a lot of questions as a result. And it seems to me that we have lost our way when it comes to food. People are so confused. Each day we hear statistics that are scarier than anything that Stephen King could imagine. So now we’re not only confused, we’re scared witless about what to eat!
Organic, non-organic, local, commercial, GMO’s, farm fresh, natural…it feels as though you need to be a rocket scientist to grocery shop. And then after all that, the food might not taste good and you’ve given up all the “fun stuff” you loved, right?
Well, what if I told you that it’s simple, delicious and totally relaxing to eat foods that will nourish your body and soul, help you achieve your ideal weight; live peacefully and compassionately and slip right past all the obstacles that keep you from making healthy choices?
Yeah, right, you say? Hah, I say.
It all starts with your brain. Positive thinking can change everything for you, but is not so easy to achieve and maintain. We live in a culture that sets us up for failure and cashes in on our insecurities. Every television ad we see is telling us that we are losers, but if we buy their pills, perfume, lotion, burger, drink, mouthwash, clothes or car, we will be sane, sexy, smart, funny, healthy, fit and thin. These messages reinforce the notion that we cannot be whole, complete humans without their stuff…that on our own, we are not enough.
It’s time to rethink everything – and then make the changes you need to regain or maintain your wellness. But change is hard, especially when it comes to breaking a lifetime of bad habits.
Habits form in the brain. When we do something repetitively, our brains and bodies go on auto-pilot, functioning without much thought. Mindless eating and unconscious living means we eat too much – and too much of all the wrong things, exercise too little, depend on pharmaceuticals to keep us up and bring us down. We get into a rut. Our life becomes a dull routine, replete with habits that are not contributing to our health and wellness. We have to give ourselves a good shaking up or we’ll continue in this downward spiral that is typical of our culture of indulgence and convenience that’s eating us alive.
Letting old habits fade and new ones take their place starts with developing a positive vision of the outcome you want. If you think that you can’t do something, then you probably can’t do it. I remember something very valuable that a swim coach said to me when we were training hard and fast interval drills for a triathlon I was competing in. He said, “Stop telling yourself that you can’t do this.” And when I did that, I swam brilliantly. To move forward, you must ask yourself what your life will be like as you change. How will your life be enhanced? What will you achieve? Your mind is a powerful tool. Use it to your advantage.
New habits, healthy habits can be created by re-programming yourself and taking your brain off auto-pilot. The key to lasting weight loss and health is to simply reinforce a new practice. But here is the cool thing: Whatever actions you take – and repeat -- will become automatic in a mere twenty-one days. Just as your present lifestyle may be killing you now, it can quickly be turned around to become your source of strength, health, and fitness.
It’s easy once you put your mind to it. If you live within twenty miles of a supermarket, you can make healthy choices. Because of consumer demand and the press, healthier options have been made available on just about every supermarket shelf in just about every community. From extra virgin olive oils to organic produce, tofu, tempeh and other vegetarian and vegan options, you don’t need to go on a pilgrimage to make better choices for your day-to-day eating.
If you live within a mile of a gym, go to it. But if that’s not your cup of coconut water, then grab a pair of shoes and take a walk. Just moving your body in the most simple and natural of ways will improve your health and make you want to be stronger and fitter…gym or no gym. You will seek out ways to be more active, to push your body’s endurance and stamina. Whether it’s yoga, group cycling, walking, running, calisthenics, boot camp, gardening…get moving.
In the end, we must change the way we think about food and lifestyle to have a shot at the brass ring that is vitality and wellness. Only we can create the change we want to see in our health.