I have always enjoyed working out - specifically running. It was my escape, my stress relief, my calm. I absolutely loved pushing myself, getting a good sweat in, and feeling that endorphin rush. Runner’s high?! Oh yes! I dabbled in other exercises like kickboxing and Pilates, but running was always my go-to. It really began to become a staple in my life during college. Even in my mid-to-late twenties I consistently ran at least twice a week, three times on a good week.
However, as I've mentioned before, food and nutrition were nowhere on my radar. Being that annoying girl who could eat Mexican food every Friday night with a Whataburger meal at least once a week; my scarce running and high metabolism were keeping me physically where I wanted to be. Yeah, I wasn’t really toned or muscular; but I was “skinny” and that was enough for me (at that time anyway).
My First Lesson On Nutrition
This working out with eating whatever I wanted continued until my late twenties. But once I started trying to conceive, I had my first lesson on nutrition. My husband and I had quite a time having our first baby; but that story is for another blog. At that time, I became more conscientious of what I was putting into my body. I attempted to eat healthier, but it was not as consistent or long term as it should be.
Monday through Thursday I made decent choices (never really great choices), but come Friday, I ate and drank whatever I wanted. When my body wasn’t working the way I knew it could and should, I finally began noticing how important nutrition was. I finally began to realize what we put into our stomach does have an impact on our overall health, either positively or negatively.
The Impact of Food on My Life
Once I finally did conceive and had my first child, I was 31 years old. Pregnancy, as well as age, does a number on your body! After having the baby, working out alone wasn’t enough to get my body in shape and feeling good anymore. And to make sure I was really paying attention to the impact of nutrition and food, both my children were born with lactose and gluten sensitivities. My son (my firstborn) couldn’t keep anything down; he spit up ALL THE TIME. No joke, I had three changes of clothes for both of us if we went anywhere!
Throughout his first year of life, we saw numerous doctors to try and find the root cause. Most of them just wanted to prescribe acid reducers and proton pump inhibitors; none of the doctors suggested maybe my son was intolerant to lactose or even gluten. My second child was also born with the same sensitivities; but she suffered from eczema. By this go around, I knew what effect food could have, and as soon as I removed dairy and gluten from my daughter’s diet, her skin cleared up. Now I KNEW how impactful nutrition was to our bodies.
Exercise Wasn't Enough Anymore
As for myself, I still enjoyed the occasional fajita dinner or hamburger and fries. But I was beginning to realize I wouldn’t reach my personal goals of how I wanted my body to look if I continued on that path. I also had low energy and often felt bloated. I knew exercise was no longer enough. Maybe for my 20-year-old self; but things change as we age and have babies.
We need to fuel our bodies correctly. We need to feed properly in order to gain that muscle and lose that fat. Not only that, but if we fuel our bodies right, we can age well and not suffer from heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, or chronic pain. It doesn’t have to be that way! Getting older doesn’t have to be all about sore joints and rocking chairs. If we take care of our bodies NOW, we can enjoy them LATER.
It's a Journey
My nutrition journey has been just that, a journey. My respect for food didn’t happen overnight; it took years and life experiences for me to realize how important our food choices are. But now I strive to have a balanced, high-quality diet. I seek out raw, natural foods that provide the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals our bodies need to function properly and well. I steer clear of processed foods, fast foods, and lots of sugar (although I LOVE my desserts!!).
It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
And while I will occasionally indulge in that yummy chocolate cake or brownie with ice cream, it is a rare treat, not served nightly after dinner. And even at that, I’ve found ways to make those desserts healthier, but still just as tasty. I want my children to grow up knowing the importance of nutrition and how it impacts their bodies. I don’t want them to fight heart disease or diabetes. I want them knowing they can age well, just like you! It does take work, and it does take discipline. But you are worth it! Your body is worth it!