Diet vs Balance
About 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and the words the doctor uttered at the time were, “you did this to yourself”.
I’ll never forget, because at that moment my life was changed forever. I was shocked, horrified and really upset with myself. Dealing with the fact that I was now sick, always hellishly tired, in an immense state of pain and the side effects of low dose chemo put me into a hole that it took 4 years to get out of. It messed up my state of mind completely and being a new mom, I felt like a complete failure as I had to rely on my hubby to do most things. You see, prior to falling ill, I had always been a bit of an extremist. I had found a profession that I loved and was so passionate about, that I literally spent close to 13 hours a day doing it, including most weekends. Then outside of my working hours, I tried to be the perfect friend, the healthiest and fittest person, a perfect wife – the perfect person. Isn’t that what today’s world is all about??? There is this mould, this expectation, this requirement that we must be perfect in every element – family, work, health, mind, socializing – and it’s easy if you see how everyone pulls it off on social media, magazines, reality shows.
So I did just that, I tried to be the perfect person that could do it all and in the process I made myself sick. I would pick an element of my life, and do it religiously until I crashed and burned. Then I would move onto the next thing and take that to the extreme. I had absolutely no balance and my body decided that enough was enough.
The biggest downfall, was what I put in my body, or most times shoveled down my throat.
I have probably done every diet known to man, from the Dr. Atkins diet, the Cabbage Soup diet, to the HCG injection diet where I was living on less calories than a 2-day old child. I had literally probably killed my metabolism and there was no link between my brain and what was put in my mouth, I was like a robot and that was when I ate, because most days I would only realize I was hungry at 3pm. Then after falling sick, I lived on the easiest food I could find, which is basically take-aways, frozen foods or ready-made. I called myself a foodie, but I was getting fatter, unhealthier and digging my hole even deeper every day.
Finally I got Stem Cell Treatment for my disease, and had an extremely good response. I got my 2nd chance and I was not going to mess it up. I quit smoking and started dieting immediately so that I could lose all the excess weight I had gained. I could finally go back to being the perfect person – and I was determined.
I’d start the first diet, lose up to 4kg’s in the first week and then take another 4 weeks to lose 1kg. I cut out carbs, lowered calories, then cut out fat, then all forms of sugar…what was I doing wrong, why wouldn’t the weight budge and why did it take soooo long. I mean on social media all these diets show immediate results and the only six pack I had was six tummy rolls when I sat watching tv at night munching on Turkish Delights because I had given in after starving myself all day.
One morning I woke up and it hit me… you know, that epiphany crap.
I was going into a lifestyle that had no balance once again, I was eliminated food groups, I was eating next to nothing and I was very unhappy. I don’t know what triggered the change, but since that morning I have had a level of balance and understanding that that changed my life. I’ve started seeing food, exercise, my body, my life from a different light, and it’s working.
I decided I was going to go back to basics and put a few rules in place going forward.
1. Understand what you are eating and how it fuels your body
2. Only eat unrefined and unprocessed foods
3. Incorporate all food groups as each has its purpose
4. Eliminate the diet mindset and replace with “this is just how I eat”
5. Prepare every meal from scratch
6. Control portions and have whatever you want in moderation
7. Lots of fruits, salad and veg – colourful plates
Just like that, I started losing a healthy 700grams of weight a week, my skin was clearing, I kicked butt in my workouts, I was cheerful and everything around me just started to work.
I came to realise what I, and most of us, do wrong. We were restricting ourselves through the diets we tried. Yes, some people succeed, but most fail or end up gaining back 2/3 of it back down the road. I see people who eat next to nothing, and when a little junk food comes their way, they overindulge putting themselves 10 steps back. The most eye-opening factor is what is available today. A typical lunch constitutes a burger, fries and a coke which in my book is salt, trans fats and sugar.
We have developed a bad relationship with food, and we no longer consume food to nourish and fuel our body.
Realistically how many of us even make our own food from scratch. I shop for only the best fruits, veggies and meats, and have had many tell me that they would never spend so much on food (which isn’t a lot if you plan and buy only what you eat), yet the health industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and you see these same people spending thousands on weight loss supplements. What type of brainwash bullsnot is this that we live in a world where we would rather spend money on a packaged diet than quality, whole, clean food. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a Herbalife Shake 4 days out of the week, but for the nutrients and vitamins it gives me and not because I believe it is a miracle cure for fatness!
We should be finding the best ways to look after ourselves, to be our best selves (not perfect). Getting healthy is not only about what you eat. It is about your state of mind, your sleeping patterns, how much you move in a day or the exercises you do. I didn’t only focus on diet, I now meditate twice daily, I do yoga most days, I do cardio and weight training as many days as I can fit in, my sleeping patterns are finally under control, I read instead of watching tv, and I have a vision board for the three most important elements that I am focusing on at this moment, health, mind and family.
So in closing, I found my balance and it is beautiful, something I wish I found many years ago. I’m enjoying going back to basics, back to before weight loss pills and fad diets, to when life was simpler and where we were able to cook whatever we wanted with our family chatting to us in the kitchen, have beautiful colourful meals of natural, organic foods and yes, I’m still a foodie, but in a different sense. I eat mindfully and enjoy food for what it is.
Thank you for reading.