Nothing warms my heart more than the scrumptious taste of freshly baked pastries, French-inspired crepes, and a good Cuban entree. Food is love, am I right? It’s an entity that has so much influence over our decision making process. It even affects our view on cultural traditions — such as family reunions, gatherings with our girlfriends, etc. The relationship we carry with food also determines our maximum productivity, the generation of our mood swings, and the longevity of our energy.
When I was a junior in college, I met a crashing point in my health. In addition to working three part time jobs and juggling a full-time class schedule, I served as a campus magazine editor and served as a coordinator for Hispanic Club. Many mentors would ask how I was managing it all; I barely had time to answer that question. However, because of my ridiculous schedule, my dietary habits began to suffer.
Since I was living life in the fast lane, I ate anything that was put out in front of me — donuts, coffee, French fries, coffee, fried chicken — did I mention coffee? Within weeks, I was hospitalized for dehydration. As doctors cautioned me to slow down, I decided to seek help. That summer I enrolled in nutrition counseling and began a two to three month process of rediscovering true wellness and quality living. As women, we love to overcommit and volunteer for every open door opportunity that hops our way. With nutrition counseling, I realized wellness is not limited to just daily exercising rituals and meal prep — that just scratches the surface. Well-rounded health bleeds into every area of our lives: relationships, stress management, mental health, and so forth.
Here are a few key points that transformed my unhealthy eating habits and created awareness in me to seek out wholesome living.
Eating healthy is a gradual process and not an immediate response.
When deciding to make better eating choices, it’s important to not cut out what we’ve been eating regularly right away. Let’s say soda has been the household favorite; slowly begin to serve it less until it’s been replaced with a better alternative. The body experiences heavy withdrawals to common dietary habits, so we must think twice before throwing out all of our food. I remember one day waking up and deciding I should just eat fruits and salads the whole day, and guess what… I felt awful. My body began to ache with nausea and fatigue. When the body is used to a certain lifestyle, it will take at least a month to restructure the eating patterns it will consume.
Mental health is a key component of balanced nutrition.
Our mind is going at 100 miles an hour during the week. From bright colored visuals to countless conversations, our brain experiences a lot of movement, so taking a break from our technology devices and getting a chance to sit back for relaxation is crucial. It’s okay to implement saying “no” too. For people who may struggle with people-pleasing, it’s difficult to reject invitations or to decline commitments — but it’s crucial to make ourselves a priority.
The best way to serve people is by offering the best version of ourselves, and if we’re not able to do this, it’s because we haven’t been taking the time to invest in us. With this in mind, go ahead and schedule a mani/pedi after work, grab a glass of cabernet, and make time to disconnect from the world for a bit. There is no shame in resting.
Exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it.
Oftentimes, exercise gets associated with losing weight and changing our physical features with insecure motives. But, ladies, it’s time to own what we’ve got. Our bodies deserve to feel loved through every roll, wrinkle, and imperfection. Exercise is simply a way of showing some love to ourselves because we deserve to have a healthy body and to feel great in our own skin. Working out can be intimidating, but we all have to start somewhere. If we’re starting at a lower level of strength, simply start walking the lake every day after work. Getting the heart rate up gradually allows for the mind to clear and for the body to sweat. It’s an amazing stress reliever, and it’s also a way to connect with nature.
The relationships we choose determine the life we live.
I never thought of relationships as being a central part of nutrition, but they totally affect us more than we know. Relationships affect our decisions, our habits, and, at times, our self-confidence. Are the people we’re surrounding ourselves by building us up, or are they tearing us down? What voices are we allowing to speak over us on a daily basis? From family members to significant others, it’s important that we choose to surround ourselves with people who motivate us to be better human beings. If there are peers who offer encouragement and loving support, keep them! They are the ones who make the world a better place with their positive and forward-thinking mindsets. We were never meant to live this life alone; who we allow into our circle makes a difference in the people who we will become.
Health and wellness should never be contingent upon achieving the perfect bikini body (although there is nothing wrong with having goals); rather, it’s all about finding what works best for us individually. It’s a journey that takes work and effort — in the midst of our overwhelming responsibilities and commitments.
Ladies, wellness was a conversation I avoided for years because of comparison. But ultimately, when we neglect to implement good eating habits, it adds unnecessary stress both mentally and physically to the body. In place of deafening diet plans and redundant “how-to” books, I’ve learned that health is a daily choice; it’s an opportunity for us to take good care of our bodies for both the short-term and long-term goals we aspire to accomplish. Health and wellness should never be contingent upon achieving the perfect bikini body (although there is nothing wrong with having goals); rather, it’s all about finding what works best for us individually. It’s a journey that takes work and effort — in the midst of our overwhelming responsibilities and commitments.