Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What Does "Healthy" Mean to You

I just want to warn you, this is a bit of a longer post. I am talking about how to learn how to listen to our bodies this week and what listening to our bodies even means. Our bodies were made by God to work well and have an amazing ability to tell us how to care for them. All of our bodies are different so it really takes us as individuals to learn how to listen to our own bodies and learn what our own bodies need. What my body needs and doesn't need is different from your's most likely. I didn't always listen to my body and it really cost me health-wise and I often felt so sick. Feeling sick with dizziness, headaches, constipation, and fatigue was just normal to me, because I didn't know what it was like to actually feel well. I didn't know how to care for my body individually. I wanted to share my story and background with you today, because when I talk about these things it's helpful to have a little background information about me learning what it means to listen to my own body and becoming my own doctor. 

My Story of how I went from not eating certain foods because "they're not health!" to eating whatever I please and loving life:

Today, the term healthy can mean a lot of different things to many different people. It's amazing to me that when people say healthy these days it doesn’t often mean how much nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you gain by eating a certain food-- people mainly throw out healthy as a description for how little weight that food will make you gain. That's crazy! When I say healthy I mean that this is one of the best foods that will give my body so many needed nutrients and make me feel so good! However, often times people say healthy and mean that it’s not full of things that will make you fat. There’s a huge difference. As I talked about on Monday, listening to our own bodies is very important. When we don’t it can cost us health-wise and it definitely did for me. I want to eat “healthy” so I can accomplish all of the dreams that are in my heart and so that I can be the woman I want to be in this world. I want to do good. I want to be a good wife and a good daughter and one day mom. I want to feel good and be enlivened and have the energy to do all that is placed inside of my heart to do. I don’t want to be burdened down by sickness and fatigue like so many of us are today. I also don't want to be guilt-ridden and obsessed with calorie counting or feeling guilty for eating yummy foods. These days I eat whatever I want, whenever I want without one ounce of guilt. That's part of what healthy means to me-- that and also eating foods that will make me feel amazing. I don’t want to be healthy to be skinny. I want to be healthy so that I don’t feel sick every day of my life, but instead feel actually well. Skinny is just a natural by product of that for me, but that's not even the point. The whole premise that our culture seems to miss these days is that what is healthy for me, may not be healthy for everyone. We have to learn what is best for each of our bodies and what our bodies need more & less of. I first started learning about this in college. 

Click Below To Read The Rest of My Journey And Some Surprising Facts About Eating "Healthy"...

Growing up, my mom hardly ever cooked and my dad and I always kind of ate on the fly. Really whatever I was craving that particular day was basically what we would have for dinner. Dinner mostly went like, “Dawwda (that’s what my dad calls me) what are ya craving? What do you want to pick up for dinner?” That actually worked for my body, since I do believe that our body can crave things and those cravings are symptoms for what our body actually needs. I ate that way up until I left for college. During those cold winter
This picture was at college when Ben and I had just met.
months where I was on a college emotional high, I hardly ever listened to my body. I ate tons of food and I hardly ever slept-- not because I was studying! And no not partying either— I was just having fun with all of my friends. I can't say that listening to my body was on the top of my priority list. I didn't even give myself the space that is necessary for a healthy mind and life. However, that did catch up to me and I began experiencing a lot of health consequences for that. One of those was constipation. 

Constipation was something that I kind of battled my entire life, but it got much, much worse during this crazy season of college life. I started seeing various doctors, getting colonoscopies, and then taking various medicines. Those medicines combined with the constipation and also the not listening to my body equalled a lot of weight gain for me. I’ve always been tiny and very small-framed my while life, so I’ve never really worried about my weight or obsessed about it. And counting calories definitely seemed exhausting! However, once I started gaining some weight in college, it started to worry me— not to the point of dieting because I’ve never been one to get into the whole concept of diets. Somewhere along that line, I decided I needed to eat "healthy!" I considered myself a fairly healthy eater for the majority of my life. I mean, I rarely ate fast food and we never had sodas at our home. Nonetheless, I began to have the mindset that I needed to get stricter just eat healthier! I began choosing options such as grilled chicken and rice. I may have even ate a few “low fat” items— low fat sour cream, low fat milk, etc. I basically ate the things that weight loss magazines said were “healthy”. It’s interesting to me that healthy in our culture is more about the absence of things than it is the fullness of things— the absence of fat inducing ingredients versus the fullness of nutrition and how much gain you get.  I honestly shrink at reading these things as I type this because this whole mindset couldn’t be farther from the mindset I now have or the way I live my life. At this point in my life, I honestly NEVER think “oh I shouldn’t eat that because it’s not healthy!” Those thoughts do not even enter in my mind and that is so far from how I live my life now. Living in that guilt and shouldnts was a dangerous place for me— maybe not for everyone (although I wouldn’t rule it out) but especially for me since food is one of my greatest passions. I don’t ever want to associate my passions, or anything for that matter with guilt and shouldnt's and should’s. I like to live for things, not against things. It’s the whole premise of not thinking about or obsessing over what I can’t have and shouldn’t have, but living for and thinking about what I CAN do and can have. There’s a huge difference, and I challenge anyone to think through that premise alone. If anything says low fat on it now I don’t touch it. 

When I was under the impression that healthy meant a list of things such as chicken breasts for dinner, oatmeal for breakfast, low fat milk in my coffee, and not a lot of really yummy foods basically I started feeling sick all of the time.  I felt probably the worst I’ve ever felt in my entire life physically. I was constantly feeling sick. I was constantly constipated. I was constantly getting dizzy or getting headaches. My skin was constantly itching and I was breaking out. I was gaining more weight even though I was eating what our culture said would make me loose weight, and on top of all of those things I constantly felt this dark cloud over me. Food no longer was about taste and goodness but was associated with shoulds and shouldn’ts and even guilt. If I had brown sugar (or God forbid white sugar) with my oatmeal then I would feel guilty for not eating oatmeal with honey instead. Having guilt and eating this way made me feel sick all of the time. The sicker I felt and the more weight I gained eating so called healthy, the more I deprived myself and only ate more oatmeal and dried fruits as “sweets." The more I ate those things the sicker I felt. 

My Husband and I now
One day, it was all in a flash it seemed but I decided to throw caution to the wind. None of this was worth it to me. I didn't care about extra weight this much after all. I wasn’t going to deprive myself anymore as food became NOT FUN at all and I was going to not care about my weight gain and just eat however I wanted once again like I was used to doing all of my life.  I definitely was not going to live under a blanket of guilt for eating unhealthy things. I think that’s one of the worst things we as people can do. I started eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I was getting by more than okay, but there was more for me to learn. Since I could eat anything I wanted, I wasn’t constantly obsessing over what I shouldn’t eat like I had been when I was depriving myself. Because I wasn’t constantly obsessing over it, my eating sort of went back into balance like I had been used to. I ate what I wanted and I stopped when I was full because I wasn’t in this depriving myself mentality. It became a non-issue for me. I lived this way largely for a long time— the way of eating whatever I wanted. As I took time to listen and eat what sounded good to me, my body began responding to that so well. My body began just falling back into it’s usually routine, pattern, and size the more I ate this way and the way I was used to. The weight fell off of me and I went back to my usual size and the size I had always been. This was when I was NOT trying to loose weight and when I actually just completely stopped trying. If you will remember, when I was trying to loose that weight I had gained, I only gained more. Hmmmm. So that was the first step. I was still experiencing physical symptoms such as constipation, stomach aches, and fatigue.

The second step didn’t occur until when I was married. Once I got married I did what most new wives did. I was so excited to be able to have my own little family to cook and meal plan for and I had all of that newly married excitement about it all. I also was budget conscience. At this point in my life I didn’t know the difference between organic and non, I didn’t know the difference between local foods grown in your area and foods grown across the country or world from you. I bought foods to use as ingredients for recipes I found on pinterest. I bought food for recipes not food that was in season. All I knew was my newly wife excitement and the satisfaction in feeding my new husband. Since I was budget conscience I began buying budget friendly food. What’s a pretty common budget friendly option? Chicken! We still joke about how much chicken we ate when we first got married. I shrink at that now. I even bought the frozen chicken breasts from Sam’s and Wal-Mart! I began buying many things just because they were cheap. Now while I wouldn’t suggest one buying the most expensive things, it didn’t serve me well to just buy certain ingredients and food just for the price. What I want to highlight here is that I began not listening to my body once again and instead choosing food options just for price sake. I get it. Thinking about price is a necessary component of life. However, I became sort of obsessed with the price of things that I thought about that instead of listening to my body on food choices once again. What did this lead to? I didn’t feel good often of course. My body didn’t fall apart to the extent it did in college, but there were noticeable differences in my health and how I felt on a daily basis. I began not feeling good again and after a certain period, I knew I had to do something differently because I was sick of feeling off and sick constantly. Along with how sluggish and bad I felt, my emotions were always changing here and there as well.

I knew as I began to get sick that I needed to do something about my health. I began with my eating and I started making more time to watch my body and how things affect me. There were certain foods that kind of deep down I didn’t love and I started with those. The first was chicken. We had been eating a lot of it and yet I never really liked chicken deep down. If you remember when I tried to eat “health foods” in college I resorted to eating a lot of chicken because it’s what our culture tends to think is low-fat and “healthy.” Then I ate it again because of the price. During both of those times my health really got worse. I didn’t put two and two together, but once I purposed to start listening to my body I started with the things that I never really liked and chicken was at the top of my list. So I started watching how I felt when I would eat chicken and sure enough I would get a headache, dizzy, and stomach aches every time I ate it. I kind of didn’t realize how sick I felt all the time, that feeling sick was so “normal” to me that I had never really realized how sick it made me feel. am allergic to chicken. I never knew and I ate it often thinking it was healthy. For me, it wasn't "healthy." I started eating foods and just watching how I felt each time. I pretty quickly realized what foods made me feel sick and which ones had no affect on me. I can say it’s pretty amazing to eat food and not feel sick afterwards! I love that now I know what foods to stay away from and which ones not to. However, I had to take that time to figure out which foods that was for my own body. No one can tell you that. It takes listening to your own personal body. I will give you some practical suggestions for how to do that on Friday. As for now, just start to pay attention. That's what I did for a season. It takes time and a bit of diligence. If you don't make that time and you're just running around eating to survive, you won't let and listen when your body tries to speak to you. Do you want to feel sick every day or do you want to feel amazing and have the energy in life to do things you want to do and accomplish your dreams? If you don’t want to feel sick, start watching how you feel when you eat certain things and eliminate those from your diet. And stay away from processed foods and high fructose corn syrup as a whole and hormone filled meats and dairy! 

What Do I Eat Now: 

Well here is what I don't eat: I don't eat meat or dairy with hormones. I don't eat high fructose corn syrup. I don't eat processed foods. I don't eat canned anything or boxed anything. I only eat chicken about once every two months, if that. For two years straight I never ate one bite of chicken to cleanse my system from it, because I would feel so sick every time I ate it. Now, I eat it sparingly without any affects. I don't ever, ever eat chicken that is not pasture raised to this day. What I do eat is whatever I want. I eat grass-fed butter, full of fat and good nutrition. We drink the cream off of the top of our milk. We eat cheese. We make homemade pastas, homemade bread's. We eat really amazing, good food. If I want something really badly that does have high fructose corn syrup, I'll indulge and eat it. Now, that happens very rarely-- maybe once every four months. However, if I wanted peanut MM's from the store, I would eat them. It's that simple. There is no guilt in my mind whatsoever about having to eat healthy or that I shouldn't eat certain things. It's not that complicated. I don't stick to a diet such as paleo or anything like that. I don't do some specific thing for thirty days. I try to stay away from anything like that, except for maybe a candida cleanse once or twice a year. I also do make sure I get in enough water, because dehydration feels slumpy and yucky. Yes, I made up the word slumpy. I eat guilt free and I eat whatever I want. Ben and I feel so absolutely privileged to be able to get such high quality ingredients from our Farmer's Market that taste unlike anything you've ever had from the grocery. We eat so good. Healthy does not taste less then. Healthy for us is about fullness. We feel privileged that we are able to eat ingredients that make us feel amazing and that taste amazing!! That's what being healthy is to us. 

Come Back Friday To Read My Tips on How You Can Learn Your Own Body! 

You can see Part I of this series here and Part III of this series here. Also, to read more about what others consider healthy you can see some of our interviews where we asked others about their views on being healthy: Dr. Shumway's, Gabrielle's, Jennifer's, Kimberly's, Monica's, and Mine and Laura's

Disclaimer: PRTLIVING (and all of those feature and interviewed) is limited to providing self-help education in natural health matters and advocating of a healthy lifestyle for the sole purpose of sharing personal experiences and historical information about the traditional use of God-given herbs and natural remedies. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. No medical claims are made. If you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of your medical doctor.
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