Discovering Happiness through a Healthy Lifestyle Transition
By Kirsten A. Womack
I have always fought to maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss has always been a part of my life; I can remember being worried about my weight as far back as the seventh grade. I have spent the majority of my adult life trying to lose weight. I used to be a serial dieter, trying many popular diets and some extreme eating—or rather, not eating—tactics. I was the very picture of a yo-yo dieter. I jumped on all of the latest diet plans for years. I lost, gained, and plateaued repeatedly. I did this without thinking of the health effects on my body.
In 2011, I had a wake-up call in the form of a thyroidectomy. I got serious about my health. The biopsy that was completed once my thyroid was removed showed cancer was present in my thyroid. It’s unfortunate that it takes a health scare to get most people on the right path. It was a bit of a slow process, but once I understood that I needed to focus less on weight loss and more on living a healthy lifestyle my journey began.
I slowly transitioned away from red meat over a year. I recently transitioned away from all meat. I still eat some seafood. I do love the taste and smell of bacon and chicken wings are one of my favorite foods, but neither is healthy for me. I have read articles and watched movies about the way animals are being fed, injected, and doped up. I can’t risk adding chemically treated meats and processed foods to my body. I see a growing number of friends, coworkers, and family members being affected by cancer. I truly believe meat and processed foods play a major role in cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Cancer is prevalent in our society; too many people are suffering from illnesses. To me, it’s simple: it has to be the food we eat. I believe our bodies cannot process the chemicals and the buildup of those chemicals results in illness.
My transition has become less about weight loss and more about providing my body with the necessary nutrients. The weight loss is secondary. Yes, I do need to shed extra pounds to be healthy and that is a work in progress. I no longer obsess about the weight loss, but focus on eating healthy and exercising regularly. I have removed the thought pattern of losing weight to look a certain way and have adopted an attitude of eating healthy for the rest of my life so I can live longer. The scale no longer dictates what I eat. I eat nutrient-dense foods that taste good.
I’m not without flaw; I do love my wine, coffee and a few other goodies that I need to eliminate, but this is a transition and I am not perfect—nor do I want to be. I am mindful of what I’m putting on my plate. This transition can be challenging, but the reward of good health is worth it.
I enjoy cooking, which I used to avoid at all costs. I shudder when I think of the calories consumed and dollars spent at restaurants. People say it’s expensive to eat healthy, but when you remove restaurants you can add those funds to your grocery budget.
Pinterest.com and ForksoverKnives.com have become my primary resources for healthy recipes. My diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, eggs, cheese, oats, and a limited amount of seafood. You can find me snacking on a leafy green salad and whipping up a smoothie or fresh homemade juice on a regular basis. My husband is truly enjoying our healthy meals. He has not transitioned to a plant-based diet so I still cook chicken and fish for him, but a few times a week I sneak in a vegetarian meal. He often doesn’t realize that he hasn’t eaten any meat until I tell him.
I take my journey to a healthy lifestyle seriously. I am constantly reading articles and books about healthy eating. There is a lot of information to sift through and apply only what works for me. I have found this is a journey with no end. It’s not about reaching a 50-pound weight loss goal and then being done; it’s about discovering and becoming a healthy, happy you.
I can honestly say that at 50 years old I feel physically and mentally better than I have in my entire life. The fog has lifted and the urge for so many sweets has subsided. I no longer want to eat M&Ms, drink a cup of coffee, and chase it with a Pepsi (I can’t believe I used to do that on a regular basis). Now I look forward to a bowl of berries with almonds, honey, and flax to satisfy my sweet tooth and it tastes better than the processed junk food I used to consume. I’ve found that when I eat healthy I can eat more food (I must admit I love to eat).
I have outlined a few tips for anyone serious about transitioning to a healthy lifestyle:
• It’s your life. You are responsible for your own health and happiness.
• Give yourself time to embrace and enjoy the changes you are making.
• Have patience with yourself.
• Keep it interesting: try new fruits and vegetables.
• Don’t let others get in your way. Stay strong to your conviction to become a healthy, happy you.
• Read Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Furhman.
• Turn your setbacks into learning experiences to keep going.
• Connect with others on a similar journey.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Be thankful for each day.
• Be kind to yourself.
Most of my tips are less about food and more about you. The food is the easy part. There is a ton of information available about eating healthy. You see.. it’s up to you and only you to take control of your health. You have no one to blame and no excuses to make it is your responsibility.
The most surprising and best part of the journey that I have discovered is that the journey is not only a transformation to good health, but also a journey to happiness. It’s about living out loud, self-satisfaction, and self-discovery.
I invite you to join me on the Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle. Visit www.kirstenwomack.com where I share my successes, failures, recipes, and adventures in self-discovery.