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Eight years ago, my father and I explored alternative medicines and treatments hoping to find a cure for his cancer. One day while visiting an integrative medicine doctor, I received advice that would change my life and my family’s life.
“Stop eating sugar,” the doctor said when I asked him what I could do to avoid getting cancer. Up until that moment I had the worst eating habits you could imagine. I ate junk food regularly, loved Burger King and Taco Bell, and practically overdosed on chocolate chip cookies.
But I took those three words seriously and immediately changed my diet drastically. Avoiding sugar became an obsession. Friends and family urged me to relax, worried I was becoming too skinny and strict with my children. But I was on a mission. Subconsciously, I was trying to exert control over the uncontrollable — my father’s terminal disease. No matter what we tried, his cancer progressed. Unable to change that, I focused only on the things that were within my control—what I ate and what my two-year-old and seven-month-old boys ate. It was like I was trying to fight the cancer for my dad.
I don’t regret being extreme during that time. My relentless commitment turned a phase into a lifestyle. It pushed me to educate myself and learn more about food and wellness; it inspired me to start my first blog, pileonthegreens, to share our journey with others; and it helped me pass on the importance of healthy eating to my kids. My example even influenced my husband who then lost 45 lbs.
Extreme focus and commitment leads to results.
But after my dad’s death, the tigress in me quieted down. His fight was over. At the same time my children were growing up and my rigidness was no longer appropriate. I decided to be more lenient and flexible about the choices they made. I also made a lot more concessions with myself.
As life got busier with after-school and weekend activities, our lifestyle became more on-the-go. We’re out more and I’ve been planning less, meaning we have less healthy options more often. I’ve lost my discipline. However, because I worked so hard for the last eight years to instill healthy habits into our lives, our diet is still better today than before we started.
Why am I telling you this? Because we all have cycles and transitions in every aspect of our lives. We can focus on certain goals intently, and then taper down. As our lives change, it’s normal for us to adjust our priorities and our lifestyle. The key is to continue adopting healthy habits that stick with us, even when we’re not on our A game. For example, I’ve never returned to fast food, sodas, or microwaveable meals even though now I eat a lot more carbs and desserts. It makes getting back on track easier.
My husband and I had been feeling like we needed a reset. For him, it was a jumpstart to motivate him back into the gym and lose some pounds he put on. For me, it was more about mindset and cleaning up my eating habits. One of my running buddies told me about mimic fasting and it caught my attention. Last week we did it! I did a five-day mimic fast and my husband did a three-day water fast. Although the process is painful (Orlando’s was way worse than mine), I found it was a wonderful way to get us back into a healthy state of mind. We ended the fast feeling empowered, excited, and full of energy.
As for me, with this reset I realized I’ve entered a new stage of life. I’m no longer the person who is oblivious to food and how it affects my body and mind. I’m no longer the daughter who is coping with her dad’s illness or grieving his loss. And I’m no longer the mother of infants who is trying to get it right.
I am now a woman who understands food and enjoys nutrition, exercise and feeling great. I’m a person who is aware of genetic diseases and will do what I can to avoid them. And I am a mom who wants to lead by example and guide my kids as they navigate their own health journey. It’s a good place to be and I’m grateful for the journey.
As for you, it’s important to know what stage of life you’re in. You might need an extreme lifestyle change to lose weight, reclaim your health, or adopt habits that stick. You might need a simple reset to kick you back in gear. Or you might need to leave things status quo because you need to focus on other priorities right now.
Wherever you are today, know this: It’s temporary. Have patience with yourself and do the best you can. A new season will come. But remember, you always have the power to start a new cycle in your health journey.