Last Wednesday I was interviewed by Donny Carpio for a course he’s taking called, Insights for Innovation. His project was to gain insights on how to create healthier eating habits for families and he decided to interview me for my history of practicing healthy habits myself and with my family.
Donny had excellent questions and as I heard myself answer some of his questions, I gained more insight into why I do what I do and why I make the choices that I do. One of his very first questions was “How did you first get into health and nutrition?” I love answering this question because we all have different stories. Some people decide to embrace a healthier lifestyle to cure their digestive issues, lose weight, or perhaps clear acne. But for me, it really started when I was 15 years old and had joined the Cross Country team in high school.
“But for me, it really started when I was 15 years old and had joined the Cross Country team in high school. “
I wanted to run faster, increase my endurance and speed up my recovery time in between runs. As I was doing research at the time on what I could do to improve my performance, I was fascinated at how much I found related to nutrition and the impact it had on running performance. At that point I was hooked. I became obsessed. I began to religiously follow a 40-30-30 diet (40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, 30% protein). I counted every calorie, every nutrient and carried my meals everywhere I went. Family dinners, parties, you name it – I was devoted to my nutrition plan. Aside from the benefits I gained with increasing my performance in my running, I also began to feel better over all. I felt like I was “on point” with everything else in my life. My grades were getting better, I was being more productive, I was feeling a lot more clear about my goals and where I was headed. It was a euphoric feeling, I just can’t explain it.
“At that point I was hooked. I became obsessed. I began to religiously follow a 40-30-30 diet (40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, 30% protein). I counted every calorie, every nutrient and carried my meals everywhere I went.”
And that is when I learned that “When I eat good, I feel good. And when I eat crappy, well, I feel crappy!” From that point on I experienced these feelings on both extremes. My first year of college I gained the “freshman 15+” and was all over the place. I was eating a lot of “healthy processed food,” not exercising, and just not managing my time well. Looking back now, almost 15 years later, I realize that although the eating had a lot to do with my weight and how I was feeling, my life was actually a “mess.” I wasn’t doing so well at SDSU, I had started my first job ever, and was getting used to a whole new lifestyle. In other words, I was navigating through a life change. And this is where I had a bit of an “aha” moment. I realized that it wasn’t all about exercise and nutrition. It was about how I felt emotionally, about my career, education, finances, relationships, etc. And at that point, I was feeling crappy about everything. I had no idea how to manage my finances, I was failing miserably at SDSU, had broken up with the high school sweetheart, and was so confused about what the heck I wanted to major in and what career I wanted to pursue. Can you relate to this at all? It was like a ripple effect – and I became so out of balance.
“It was like a ripple effect – I was so out of balance.”
My point is – while, yes, exercise and nutrition are extremely important, you can’t ignore the other factors in your life that make you whole. Sure, when I was 15 years old I felt like my life was “on point” because everything seemed to be in place. But the reality is that I was obsessed and a bit too extreme – I couldn’t enjoy myself and I didn’t have nearly half of the responsibilities that I later had as an independent adult. As I’ve grown and gone through other “life changes” such as putting myself through and graduating college, establishing my career, getting married, having kids, etc. it’s almost as if nutrition has become secondary in my life and everything else has become primary. My career, relationship with my husband, physical activity, home environment, and joy all come first now. But – the big BUT – there has to be some kind of balance. And that is what I’m trying to get at.
My point is – while, yes, exercise and nutrition are extremely important, you can’t ignore the other factors in your life that make you whole. Sure, when I was 15 years old I felt like my life was “on point” because everything seemed to be in place. But the reality is that I was obsessed and a bit too extreme – I couldn’t enjoy myself and I didn’t have nearly half of the responsibilities that I later had as an independent adult.
Your personal balance may change throughout different stages of your life and that is okay. The key is to remain aware of life’s changes and realize that $h!t happens. There is no sense in eating all the kale in the world if you’re so unhappy with your marriage, hate your job and are living paycheck to paycheck. You have to do what you can and take it one step at a time. Eating healthy is perceived differently by everyone and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa.
Unfortunately there is so much information out today regarding what is healthy and what isn’t. One day coffee is bad for you the next day it isn’t; one day animal protein is the key to weight loss and the next day it’s the enemy.
The best way to not get so overwhelmed is to
- Educate yourself as much as possible
- Find out what works for you
- Be confident about your decisions.
Sure, society doesn’t make it easy with the easy and inexpensive access to sugar and fat laden foods at the grocery stores, fast food restaurants, etc.. but, you do have a choice! Again, remember education is empowering and be sure you question everything you read!
“The best way to not get so overwhelmed is to educate yourself as much as possible, find out what works for you, and be confident about your decisions.”
I was very flattered to have been interviewed and I hope that my responses will help Donny with new and innovative ways to help everyone become the healthiest version of themselves.
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