About five years ago, a friend and I were chatting about getting older and how your body changes with age, and not always in a good way. At the time, I was working outside the home, had no time for my usual walking exercise routine, couldn’t lose weight (actually, I could, but could never sustain it) and was always tired and achy. Does this sound familiar to anyone??!
She happens to be a couple of years older than I, and she mentioned that she wishes she had taken her health seriously and gotten into better shape before she reached menopause because it would have been a lot easier. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, so after thinking about that for a few days, I decided to make some changes.
I joined a gym, started working out regularly, and started a slow, but steady overhaul of my diet. I cut out junk food, soda, processed meats and started eating more mindfully. Eventually, I cut out most dairy, most gluten and almost all sugar.
An interesting thing happened: in the last 4 years, I’ve lost a total of almost 20 pounds and have kept it off. I’m in better shape now than I was when I was 24, and at my last physical, my doctor told me I have the heart of an athlete.
I should mention that I am one of the laziest people around. That’s why I joined a [expensive] gym. I try to go everyday (yes, everyday) between 5:30 – 6:00 am. I do cardio everyday; three days a week I add weights. I am extremely efficient when I go: I don’t talk (except to say hello to other regulars), I do my workout, and I’m out in 45 minutes. I’ve made this a priority in my life because it’s important to me, it makes me feel good, and it keeps my aches and pains in check.
I don’t miss the foods I no longer eat. I believe you can still enjoy food that’s healthy, whole and good for you. This isn’t to say that I don’t splurge – but my splurges are within healthy parameters. This Acai Smoothie is my weekend reward (there’s too much natural sugar in it for my daily liking), and I seriously look forward to it all week! Here’s the recipe:
Acai Smoothie Bowl
(all measurements are approximate!)
12 oz. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 whole Banana (fresh, not frozen)
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 pack partially defrosted frozen unsweetened Acai (found at Whole Foods or Sprouts)
1 tbsp. Hemp Hearts (Whole Foods or Sprouts)
Add ingredients to blender in the order above and blend until smooth. Portion into a bowl and top with the following:
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Cranberry Maple Granola (love.)
1 tbsp. dried cranberries
1 tbsp. bee pollen
1-2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut
Sometimes I swap out the frozen Acai and use frozen Pitaya packs (also found at Whole Foods); I like to keep both in the freezer for variety 😉 You can also add whatever fruits you prefer, fresh or frozen. Keep in mind that if you add mainly fresh fruit, it will be a looser consistency, better for a drink than a bowl.
I think our health is one of the most important things for us to take charge of. In fact, it’s one of the things we have total control over, but you have to make it a priority.
I know it can be done because I’ve done it. My cravings are gone – I can say no to sugar and desert without feeling like I’m missing out. The rewards are so worth it: my skin is clearer, facial lines are less pronounced, and I know I look younger than 52!
If you want to take control of your food but don’t know where to start, Dr. Frank Lippman is a great resource and has delicious recipes. He has a food program (they call it a cleanse, but I hate that word. It’s an elimination diet) that will really help reset your body, and help identify foods that you may be sensitive to.
Another program, which is just about to start, is Unprocessed October through Eating Rules. I just stumbled upon this site this morning and even though I pretty much eat unprocessed, I still may join in for fun. I like joining these challenges to make me more aware of what I’m eating and reset myself – sort of like a tune up!
So, who’s going to take charge of their health starting right now?!