Are you ready to pull your head out of the sand and doing whatever is necessary to put yourself at the top of your priority list for health improvement? Think about it…if you feel like crap – how do you expect to be joyous about doing anything for anybody else. Or even able to do anything! Poor health not only affects your physical and mental outlook, but also your friends, family, co-workers… EVERYTHING in your life! I was talking with a friend and client yesterday about food allergies and being healthy. It seems that so many people are challenged to eat things that really nourish the body. Of course we know fast-food isn’t a good option, and that most meals out at a restaurant are 3-4 times the portion size and probably double the number of calories that we should be eating for the day in only one meal. Drinking pop is like eating sugar straight from the bag, and diet sodas while zero calories – come with their own potential host of health problems. But knowing all this information doesn’t seem to stop people from making poor choices when it comes to healthy eating. And of course, eating habits aren’t the only thing required to maintain good health. Exercise, restful sleep, meditation/relaxation, sunshine and fresh air, regular check-ups with your doctor, all are equally important! As a Pilates teacher and health professional, I too have been challenged with practicing what I preach. Chronic health problems, poor mental conditioning, and feeling like I have to spend all my time taking care of everybody else in the past has really gotten in the way of me taking care of me! Does this sound like something you’ve allowed to happen to you too? So now I’m going to lift the curtain a bit and let you into my life. I have always been an active person. Exercise has been one of the things that has helped me keep my sanity. Playing sports, weight training, cardio, Pilates, Yoga, Dance, racquetball, cycling, walking, running, skating… being in motion has me grounded and has worked to alleviate some of my symptoms for depression. I have only had about six months in my forty-seven years on this planet that I have not been depressed. That brief window opened my eyes to realize that the rest of the world doesn’t feel or think about life like I always have. But like me, there are a lot of people out there that are challenged with symptoms of depression. Way too many people are struggling with depression! Personally, medication has never been a good option for me. I don’t like feeling drugged, and suppose that when I was younger I feared that being on a drug for depression might lead me to using other drugs – which was a road I didn’t want to go down. So what do you do to feel better and alleviate symptoms of depression? We’ll get to this in a minute… Big secrets… I also have struggled with closet binge-eating issues. As a competitive athlete when I was a child, and having a coach that always told me I was too fat…I learned to hide when I ate foods that I knew weren’t “good” for me. Learning and teaching Bigu Qigong (a form of breathing and meditation for weight-loss) opened my eyes to the foods I choose to eat for emotional reasons not nourishment so when I choose to eat my emotional foods I am now able to stop and ask myself, “What is going on in your life right now that is sending you to an unhappy emotional spot?” Then I at least have the choice to correct it and not give in to emotional eating, or stuff my face and deal with the consequences of stuffing my emotions. Do you ever eat for emotional reasons, rather than hunger? Do you eat to live? Or live to eat? These are important questions to consider that can dramatically change your relationship with food. After some major medical issues in 2010, a detox-program to get off of steroids and take my life back, in December I opted to have blood-tests to determine if I had any food allergies or sensitivities, and a stool test to see how well my digestive system was assimilating what I eat. WOW, what an eye opener! At this moment in my life I was faced with the biggest cross-road ever for making Big Changes to improve my health. I discovered that EVERYTHING I have been eating (that I thought was “healthy”) was actually causing a negative allergic reaction in my body! Armed with this information – I was faced with a choice…continue eating things that I know my body can’t handle and accept the consequences of poor health. Or consciously make the effort to make good food choices and see what positive benefits might result. This brings me back to the discussion I had with my friend. She asked about my allergy testing and commented that she’s pretty sure that she is eating things that are not helping her stay well, but she’s afraid to know what she should avoid, because not knowing means that she doesn’t have to do anything about it! She’s not sure that she’s ready to “give up” certain foods. I can relate to this comment, how about you? Are you living like this too? I want to challenge you for your own good – Do you think this is the healthiest position to take? “Not knowing is better than knowing, so I don’t have to do anything about it.” And how much DO you know now, that you’re just choosing to ignore? Are you going to continue taking the “head in the sand” approach until the easy changes aren’t an option and you’re faced with major medical expenses, or even death. Why wait for this extreme wake-up call? In time and financial resources we will pay for our good health on the front end, or pay for our poor health on the back end. Doesn’t the thought of enjoying a healthier, happier life sound like the better option? Is change easy? That all depends on your mental attitude, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Is change temporary? Not if you really want things in your life to improve. Change encompasses lifestyle adjustments, attitude adjustments, an increase in daily physical activity, good food choices all of the time, facing your fears head on and working through them, and working to find a balance in everything you do to ensure that you’ll be enjoying optimal health. In January 2012 after learning the results of my allergy tests, I committed to making the changes required for my body to recover from years of eating allergy-laden foods and started eating safe and appropriate nourishment to restore my health. Let me tell you that for me, this has been a MAJOR overhaul! And now at the 6 week point I have been 100% compliant. (Which to me is also amazing! But because I feel some much better it has given me the incentive to stick with it.) I also added an additional 10 hours a week of physical activity to my training schedule. Where have I found the time? My schedule was already jam-packed. I’m having to be a little more efficient with planning meals. Mostly, I’ve given up a few hours of sleep. But the results are that I’m finally losing weight after a lifetime of struggle with chronic inflammation issues, I have tons more energy, and I am physically & emotionally stronger. When you set your mind to something and follow through it is very empowering! And one of the biggest highlights for me is the shift that is occurring mentally. The fog of depression is lifting. For me in this first six-weeks, to not have had a dip and crash into the depths of depression is a big change in a very positive direction. I realize that if you’re still reading, you might be thinking, “Gee, this all sounds great, can I do it too?” YES, YES, YES!!! The only thing standing between you and success is making the changes that you know are needed to give you a new and improved result. Is your path the same as mine – probably not, (but after my experience with allergy tests, I would toss this out as a suggestion for something to consider if you’re dealing with any chronic problems.) Ask yourself this question, “What can I start doing today that will compound to give me lasting effects for a healthier life?” Now, commit your efforts to following through. Take action and enjoy tracking your results! I want to support you in your efforts to improve your whole-body health! Drop me a comment and let me know what you’re going to do to start making BIG Changes to improve YOU. YOU CAN DO IT! START NOW!