Proudly presenting the only fruit I had in Hungary up until yesterday morning. (Bananas not included: I brought about a crateful of those with me from home and had them for breakfast for the entire first week of our vacation)
A particularly windy and not-at-all warm morning in Hungary with Manfriend still sound asleep, me and my idiotic morning person tendences wake up. Bored and hungry, I pull a sweater over my head and stroll towards the minimarket for breakfast. I decide to get a cup of coffee while satisfying another one of my basic needs: Internetz.
There is free Wi-Fi at the reception so with coffee in hand, I park my butt on a bench outside and
check my work e-mail (lol no) browse Twitter and Tumblr. While I am sitting there, drinking my coffee and tending to my pathetic Internet addiction, a Whatsapp message conversation transpires between me and my best friend Angel.
Somewhere in 2013, Angel made herself a weight loss goal to reach before her 25th birthday: 30 pounds. A short, curvacious Cape Verdian girl with stunning smile and the most gorgeous waist-length curls ever, she looked good at whatever weight. But I knew she was heavier than was good for her, and that she weighed more than she wanted to weigh.
Already looking great in my eyes, after setting her goal, slow but steady*, she started look great in a smaller package. It was so gradual I didn’t even notice it on my own. It wasn’t until a mutual friend pointed it out to me I really gave her a ‘wait a sec’ lookover. She proudly told me she had already lost 15 pounds by that point. All of a sudden I could see it. Not somewhere pinpointable on the body, but visible overall. She looked great, and only started to look better.
I went on vacation when she was only a few pounds away from her actual goal. I didn’t know if she had made it so I inquired. She reported she did: She had lost the 30 pounds!
“How does it feel, sweetheart” I typed, in all honesty expecting something along the lines of an excited “Great!” and “I am so happy when I look in the mirror!” or “I can’t wait to go shopping” or “I love the muscle definition.” But she didn’t say anything like that. Instead, she told me what it really felt like to her:
“Like my body is healing itself. That’s how it feels. By giving it healthy food and moving it I gave my body the opportunity to, and now it is healing itself. All this time I had a Diesel engine and I was giving it the wrong fuel. That’s not good for your body’s performance.”
She added “Now if only it wasn’t so damn expensive to eat organic I could start giving it bio-diesel!!!”
Sitting there on a bench, drinking a hardcore double dose of caffeinne on an empty stomach, what she said humbled me. It reminded me of the most important thing that happens when eating healthy, exercising and taking care of your body: The body heals itself.
If you give your body the right ingredients and the proper amount of exercise, you create the right internal environment. When you stop giving your body the wrong things, you take away a source of continuous stress for the body to deal with. Without the stream of junk food, sugar, alcohol or whatever other vice, the body doesn’t have to do execute immediate damage control all the time. Instead, it can focus on other things. Healing itself.
I wrote something along those lines before in Girl Meets Yoga, just phrased differently: Your body loves you (read or download that section here). It will try to get you healthy again if you give it a chance.
And when it does, you will feel better. Healthier. More energetic. Maybe you’ll sleep better. It might help your mood, your sex life, your concentration. Maybe you’ll feel minor ailments go away. Maybe you’ll even notice that a bigger health problem will become less dehabilitating over time.
Humbled by my conversation with Angel, I looked at my coffee and mentally ‘tsk’-ed myself.
I’m healthy, sure. I haven’t let myself go completely, but that’s not my great body awareness or discipline. It’s just the habit of green juice in the morning and salads for lunch I have at home. My obsession for high intensity (and slightly insane) yoga takes care of the rest.
But I’m not at my healthiest. My high percentage raw food days are so far behind me I can’t even see the celery stalks in the distance anymore. I drink more coffee than I should, I eat more meat than I ever intended when returning to non-vegeterianism** and I think Tony Chocolonely could continue to exist based solely on my Caramel&Seasalt chocolate purchases.
Angel hand-delivered me my favorite type of inspiration: Catapulting me right into action.
Immediately after our conversation, I downed the rest of my coffee*** and walked back into the minimarket. I got myself half a pound of grapes, a 1.5 liter bottle of water, some veggies and some whole grain bread. I had the grapes and a whole grain bun with peanut butter for breakfast. I did some yoga postures in the toilet facilities (lack of privacy and excess of wind gusts outside) and freaked out a cleaning lady with my backbend. During the day I drank a lot of water, had cherry tomatoes, more whole grain bread. I just tried to eat sort of healthy****.
Right now I work with what I got; but I at least make an effort. Back home, near a juicer, Bikram yoga and actual grocery stores I can continue to do so a lot more effectively but the underlying point remains.
Because Angel made me aware of a very basic thing. By eating right, exercising, and other healthy behaviors*****, we are creating space and opportunity for our bodies to heal themselves.
Think about this for a second. Forget about weight loss, looking better naked, Nike twitter updates, abs or pecs, Instagrammable pictures, postures or track records, daily food intakes, the struggle of chosing healthy food over junk food and the effort it can take to get up from the couch to exercise. Instead, think of the favor you are doing your entire body.
Think of it not as a challenge, but as an opportunity, the possibility of creating health by doing what you do. Think of the positive effect you’re having on your internal organs, your digestive tract, your skin, your brain. Think of the nutrients you give yourself by eating healthy, the endorphines and muscle exercise you treat yourself to every time you have a great work-out. Think of the favor you do your blood sugar levels and your cholestorel by abstaining from cupcakes and McDonalds.
Think not about what you are giving up, but think about it as giving. To yourself. You are giving yourself something. You are creating the optimal environment for your body to take care of itself, of you. Just give your body what it needs. From thereonout, trust it and watch what happens. Heal Yo’ Self.
I know I am going to put some more effort into my health habits from hereonout.
Partly motivated by looking forward to referring to this blogpost with ‘(an) Angel made me do it’, ‘touched by (an) Angel’ and ‘On the wings of (Angel’s) inspiration’.
*I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how Angel pulled it off so I asked and here it is: Angel changed her diet to mostly pure, natural food, based on protein and fats, veggies and fruit and some slow carbs like sweet potato and brown rice.
She also created a quite impressive gym-routine. Five or six (!) times a week she would work out: 2 high intensity cardio work-outs, 2 weight training sessions, 1 low impact cardio and 1 yoga session. My favorite thing she said was that yoga wasn’t really exercising – she said it felt more like ‘opening up and connecting with her body.’
**Not going to lie, I changed back to meat-eating for multiple reasons. One of those reasons was bacon. That reason has been getting out of control a little bit.
***I couldn’t throw it away. It was COFFEE. I mean, REAL, actually made from coffee beans, ACTUAL COFFEE. I haven’t had any non-vending machine-made-from-powder-and-bullshit coffee in a week.
****A for effort for the rest of the day but for dinner I had the most horrible cheese pizza in my life and need a licensed therapist to help me deal with it. There was feta on it.
*****I feel this can range from rest days to enemas, massages to meditation, saunas to juice feasts. However ‘normal’ or ‘eccentric’, I’ll leave the interpretation of healthy behavior upto you.