Some thoughts about being healthy, getting in shape and my own path to obtaining this... A critical part of preparedness!
A very important component of preparedness is good health. Besides having the ability to hike, walk and physically do the work that will be necessary for survival in any extreme condition, If you are unhealthy, you most likely will be in need of many things that may not always be available. For instance, due to bad health, you may need various medications that could be eliminated by getting healthy and taking better care of yourself. Although this may not always be the case, most of the time it is.
So the big question is, how do you get healthy? There are so many "quick fixes" and "secret diets" out there that people are often tricked into the latest fad or extreme, and often dangerous diet. These can include harmful drugs or hormones, unhealthy herbs, starving or just eating a particular type of food while avoiding essential parts of your diet. Through the studies that have been done, many of these work... temporarily. But not without a cost. And most often, the cost is harmful to the body, permanently damaging and sometimes even deadly.
That leads us to what really does work. And not only what works, but what is long-term, healthy and effective. And surprisingly, there's no "quick-fix" to true results. Like anything that lasts, it's hard work. What's the secret? Eat healthy and exercise!
Now, to eat healthy and exercise, certain things are required that many people lack, particularly in today's society. You need self control and patience! Today, everything is now, now, now! Fast food, instant meals, video on demand, information on demand, etc. etc. If the fast food drive through doesn't have our meal waiting for us by the time we get to the window, we get mad and impatient! It's no wonder we are wanting our good health and optimal weight on demand too!
And then there's our lack of self control. Just look at our eating habits. Everything is "super-sized"... plates are bigger, soup bowls giant, sodas are quickly approaching a gallon, etc. We eat bad food and we eat huge portions of it. And it extends to all areas of our lives, not just our eating habits. For example, take a look at our financial situation. We are a society of give it to me now, give it to me big and I don't want to wait for it, even if I can't afford it or shouldn't have it. Lack of self control and lack of patience has overcome us in many areas of our lives.
So how do we overcome these problems on a personal level and obtain self control and patience? Well, sometimes it needs to be a specific moment when you stop and realize something is wrong and you need to make a change and make it now! Sometimes this can be a decision you just make on your own and sometimes it is due to a life-changing event. Either way, the decision needs to be made and the long-term commitment made.
For me, this decision was made at Thanksgiving time, 2010. On Thanksgiving night, I wasn't feeling very good. The next few days found me sick and wishing I was dead. I had a bad case of the flu, but without a fever. Not sure what was wrong, I was just sick. After a few days, I started to get really frustrated. The treadmill was in the room where I was resting, watching movies and feeling sick. Finally, I got up and got on the treadmill. I remember thinking that it was time to get healthy or die, whichever came first. I know it sounds a little dramatic, but I was frustrated and sick and tired of feeling the way I was feeling. So I started jogging (for not very long) and then walked. Then I'd jog (for only 30 seconds or so) then walk for a while and walk some more. After about 30 minutes or so, I started feeling better. It was a really strange thing. I still felt sick like I was getting over a bug, but somehow I began feeling better too.
At that moment, I made a decision that I was going to change everything. I was 100% committed to getting over the slump I'd been in and the struggle of getting in shape that had been weighing me down for so long. And best of all, it was going into the holiday season...
So from that moment on, until I reached my goals (which are pretty big), I decided that I wasn't going to drink any soda or eat any candy or deserts until I reached my goal (except for Christmas day, which was my day off to eat whatever I wanted). And I was going to avoid unhealthy carbs like white bread and other refined flour items, eat lots of vegetables, fruits and healthy meats and proteins. I was also going to focus on drinking lots of water. We made homemade wheat bread and I got a slice of that with each meal, with no butter (It's amazing how good toasted homemade wheat bread is all by itself). I ate eggs for breakfast almost every day (with a little ham, a little turkey, some salsa or whatever else I could put with it to add variety). I was going to decrease my portions and evaluate everything I ate as to whether it was good or bad for me. Amazingly, much of what I thought wasn't "that bad" was put on my bad list. I began to eat for health, not out of boredom or simply for pleasure.
Then, I committed to exercise daily. I began doing the RaceRx cardio program as well as bike, elliptical and treadmill. Many days, when I felt lazy, I'd simply walk fast at an incline on the treadmill until I felt like exercising. Sometimes this would be 5 miles. The more I exercised, the better it felt, the further I could run, the better my endurance, the more fun I had.
Christmas day came and I had been saving up many of the treats that I'd been receiving from people. I'd stick them in the freezer, fridge or wherever else so they'd be fresh and ready for me on my day off. Well, that morning after our traditional steak and eggs Christmas breakfast, I dug in. Half way through the day I felt sick and wanted to vomit. Those things I thought were so good that I was sacrificing, weren't really all that good like I'd remembered. After lunch time, I decided to go back on my healthy eating routine just because the thought of another sweet was making me sick. Three days later, I finally worked off what I'd put on during those Christmas hours of gorging myself with treats. I'd eliminated that inner craving for sweets.
Every few weeks I would also take a week and focus on higher protein, lower carb meals. This was kind of a "reset" of my system and just long enough to get me over the rut that I'd find myself in. During that time I'd focus on lots of vegetables and healthy meats, often cooked with olive oil. And during that week, the few carbs I would eat would be healthy carbs. It wasn't a "no-carb" week, but a "lower-carb" week.
Well, 12 weeks have gone by and I'm down almost 3 pant sizes and about 50 pounds! I have much more energy and feel a world of difference! I'm still not to my goal, but have hit a huge milestone. Now that a lot of my weight has been shed, I'll be adding more weight lifting and muscle strengthening to my routine. This time it's a long-term goal that I am still 100% committed to achieving and maintaining.
Now it is much more enjoyable to do the things I enjoy. Hiking, backpacking and being out in the mountains is completely different when you're in better shape. And I am already seeing how important this is in a person's preparedness plans. Get healthy! Get in shape! Strengthen your body and prepare yourself so that when stressful and demanding things are required of you, your body is better prepared to handle those tasks. And when those demands are not there, you can better enjoy the healthy new you!
As for reaching the rest of my diet and health goals, I'll keep you posted...
Enjoy the journey!