Maintaining a good nutrition is one of those things that we have heard since childhood. I am sure we all perfectly remember how our parents always tried to make us have a glass of milk, lots of green veggies and some fruits daily. Most of us didn’t like to have healthy foods but still somehow managed to swallow. Most of us used to loathe green veggies, despise that tall glass of milk. Having fruits was not a problem. Who doesn’t love mangoes, and berries and bananas?
In our school days, our days used to start at 6 or 7 in the morning. So, we basically had to follow the age-old healthy habit of ‘early to bed and early to rise’. Simply put, our routine pretty much revolved around getting up early morning for school -> having healthy meals throughout the day -> going to bed before midnight. This is how we spent the first 18 years of our lives – balanced nutrition at our doorstep and an overall healthy routine.
But what happened as soon as we turned 18? We moved out of our parents’ house to attend college, probably in a different city. And thus, began the journey of poor eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle. I cannot comment on everyone’s life, but this was my debut into the world of reckless nutritional choices.
I am a 26-year old financial analyst working in a hedge fund. I have been on the straight and narrow in terms of eating habits for the past one year. But, let me tell you what happened in the last 7 years.
College life means meeting new people, studying the night before exams, hanging out with friends, binge watching all night and in general enjoying our lives. Of course, the experience is different for everyone. But, some of the common factors are eating out a lot, staying up late in the night, missing morning breakfast, and countless pizzas and burgers and tempting desserts. This routine became my lifestyle during the 5 years of college.
This lifestyle was further supported by the fact that unhealthy options are easily available at cheaper price so these options are more alluring.
Moreover, I have a sweet tooth, which means I have to have something sweet after very meal. Back then, I always submitted to the cravings of my sweet tooth. However, to everyone’s surprise, I never gained weight. Rather, I was always underweight and unhealthy overall.
Then comes the next phase of my life, ‘work-life’. Well, who likes to have a boring corporate job? Stuck in office for 9 hours working for someone else. And I was no different. After a tiring day at work, all I wanted to do was order in some food, mostly junk, and watch some of my favorite shows.
Mornings were no different than they were in college which simply meant that I was missing my breakfast aka the most important meal of the day. To top it all off, I didn’t like cooking. So, cooking a healthy meal was also not an option. But again, I did not gain weight despite eating junk.
Though, weight gain is not the only sign of eating unhealthy food. Other signs of undernourishment started popping up. Hair fall, dark circles, skinny physique in a gross way, acne. How did I manage all this? Let me tell you, my response to these signs initially was to consciously try and ignore. I never sat myself down to introspect and understand what is going wrong here. I just went with the flow.
Now what changed? how did I pull myself out of this rut?
Well, we all need some inspiration in life.
We need someone who can inspire us. In my case, the source of inspiration has been my husband. We got married last year. And he is a fitness enthusiast, totally focused on adequate nutrition and routine workouts. In fact, he enjoys cooking wholesome meals and also prefers getting up early in the morning.
In the beginning, of course, there was no change in my lifestyle. For the first few months, we followed separate routines. But, overtime, I realized the benefits of his lifestyle. This made me think about my choices and their effects on my mind and body. Until then, I was willfully ignorant and didn’t really bother about my choices and habits. So, when I did start to think, I made a conscious decision to change.
It was not an overnight change. I started taking baby steps. Instead of sleeping at 2-3 in the morning, I slowly started shifting closer to 1:30, then 1, and finally 12. This in turn allowed me to get up early morning and prepare a quality breakfast. And what about all those pizzas and burgers and my sweet tooth cravings? Pizzas were replaced by delicious home-made sandwiches.
Likewise, desserts were replaced by nutritious home-made muffins, and cookies, and ice cream.
Furthermore, I stopped giving in to my cravings all the time. First few times, it can be difficult. But, once you achieve the benchmark of saying ‘No’ to your cravings few times, you would gain confidence and realize that it doesn’t even bother you anymore and you can easily live without those unhealthy foods. Overtime, Pizzas and desserts became a once in a month delicacy. Now, it has become a once in a few months’ delicacy.
I also tried cooking with my husband and experimenting with new recipes. And to my surprise, I started enjoying it. As a matter of fact, I have introduced my husband to various new healthy recipes which have now become a part of our everyday meal plan.
In a nutshell, I have achieved the following over the last one year.
· No more missing my breakfast
· No more eating junk
· No more binge watching till 3 in the morning
· No more refined sugar
Yes, I have been able to cut sugar for the most part and try to use honey or dates or stevia for those infrequent muffins and cookies.
My meals are now all about having foods high in fiber, proteins, vitamins, essential fatty acids. To effectively stick to nutritious food options, I follow a plan. Weekly meal plans are popular for good reason. It allows you to plan and prepare in advance so you can avoid last minute instant junk food on hectic weekdays. And I have saved my weekends for exploring new recipes. Another healthy habit that I regularly follow with no exception is to always keep a box of nuts and seeds in my bag as a healthy snack option. If you are someone like me with an office job, you must be familiar with unhealthy snacking.
Let’s now talk about the aftermath!
All these changes in my nutritional habits and lifestyle do have a long lasting positive impact.
· Drastic reduction in hair fall
· Gradual disappearance of dark circles
· Almost acne-free skin
· From a gross skinny physique to a slim yet strong physique
Benefits are not limited to these few tangible physical factors. There are many indirect and intangible benefits of following a lifestyle of nutritious and healthy habits. For instance, once you start seeing positive results in your body, it inherently gives your mind confidence, a sense of achievement, a state of peace which will keep you going no matter what. These habits soon become your lifestyle. Healthy meals become your comfort food. Soon you would realize that, it’s not just about losing or gaining weight, it’s all about staying healthy and strong and eating everything in moderation.
Another important takeaway is that healthy lifestyle boosts productivity and creativity. Good nutrition and productivity go hand in hand. Multiple research studies have shown positive correlation between healthy eating and productivity.
From personal experience, I can certainly say that adopting a healthy lifestyle is one of the best decisions of my life. My mind, body and soul continue to reap benefits from this fruitful decision.
Thank you so much Prerna for your contribution to darrenshieldsblog.com
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