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My Personal Healthy Vitality Journey So Far
I had been totally vegan since 2017 and yet it took time for me to evolve my plant based journey into a genuinely healthy one. No, eating vegan isn't enough - especially if your food choices include too much of these:
- Oils (yes, ALL oils - even highly marketed olive oil);
- Salt; and (see my SOS post by clicking here)
- Processed foods.
Mine included all of the above -- until January of 2022 that is.
Over my first five fully plant based years, I first lost weight easily and quickly. The best benefit of all was perhaps how my high cholesterol dropped 150 points within weeks. The lost pounds, however, slowly but surely returned because I was eating too many delicious, sugar-filled desserts and processed foods (including potato chips). And sadly, putting on extra pounds very often couples with decreases in our motivation to exercise. Not good because we. were. born. to. move --- not to sit all day as too many of us do!
Finally, I started waking up to the importance and huge value of true clean eating. My efforts to "clean up" my plant based diet started with quitting all alcohol early in 2021. Then, in January of 2022 I cut out all desserts, most sugars and any and all kinds of chips. I increased the portion size of my nutrient packed meals and that's all it took to fill me up enough. I also substituted chips with carrot sticks,celery, raw and unsalted pumpkin seeds.
I began digging in deep to learn all I could about whole food plant based meals via resources with plenty of solid and extensive scientific data to back them up. By May, 2022, I had completed and become certified by Main Street Vegan Academy as a Vegan Life Style Coach and Educator (an amazing experience along with the unexpected gift of making several new and wonderful friends).
I read (and still do) LOTS of books and articles, listened to countless podcasts, watched videos on YouTube and elsewhere. I also joined other groups and classes that kept my hunger for plant based knowledge happily fulfilled. Perhaps the best decision of all was becoming a member of Healthy World Vitality Plan (HWVP), a national nonprofit association. For just $40/year, membership offers folks an abundance of well vetted, reliable and life changing resources. The perks include educational, life changing and extremely enjoyable 11 week small group sessions twice a year.
- And WOW did I ever make some great changes when it came to my exercise hygiene! I upped the daily walking/hiking miles I logged in distance and pace. I added indoor rowing and it quickly become perhaps my favorite sporting activity of all times. By September, 1, 2022, daily rowing had become the norm for me. I logged around 1,000 miles in the first 10 months and still look forward to my indoor rows every single day. Some of the main reasons I have taken to it like a duck to water include:
- Rowing is a full body exercise that involves about 85% of all our muscles.
- In addition, since it's a seated exercise, it does not beat our joints up like many weight bearing options do.
If anyone reading this is ever interested in trying indoor rowing, please keep in mind that patiently and steadily learning the basic technique and proper form are essential before jumping right into it. You must have the patience to do this if you want to avoid back or other injuries. An absolutely WONDERFUL book on indoor rowing and one I have read and continue re-reading is: D.P. Ordway's, "Row Daily, Breathe Deeply, Live Better" - it's practical, loaded with understandable body effect explanations and offers many real life examples from a diversity of moderate rowing fans. And, if you're looking for super good YouTube coaches with great videos, try Austin Hendrickson of Training Tall. I personally hired him for a one-on-one Zoom coaching session and can vouch that he is an excellent, personable and very knowledgeable coach in every way. My favorite workout from Austin's YouTube collection when I started rowing can be found by clicking here. This one still one I go to for a hearty but not crueling 30 minute workout. Shane Farmer of Dark Horse Rowing is another superb rowing coach and all his videos have been most helpful, educational and informative.
At the very end of 2022 and in addition to daily yoga and walks plus my dumbbell workouts 3 times a week, I added the Tibetan RItes (5 exercise movements to stimulate and coordinate our endocrine systems). Please note, however, that the Tibetan Rites are indeed energizing and wonderful, but like indoor rowing, it is very important to do your homework carefully before proceeding and work into them slowly (starting only with about 3 each). We must let our bodies build up to the strength needed for each of the 5 movements - some of which will remind you of certain yoga moves. By clicking here, you can view a YouTube video on how to modify the rites as you grow and strengthen into doing each of them.
Also - If under a doctor's care, we must always make sure our doctors give us the green light for any new exercise/movement activities we want to undertake. Reminder! I am not a medical professional! I believe we must be super pro advocates for ourselves and our health, but that must always include healthy doses of common sense, patience and the essential know how. In addition, it may be wise if budget permits to hire a personal trainer for the benefit of their expertise and guidance.
2023 arrived with an invitation from the founders of HWVP for me to join their very talented coaching team. In spite of this unexpected shift to my pre-planned 2023 first quarter, I jumped at the opportunity with much gratitude and excitement. In March, I began my volunteer coaching journey with a group of some of the most talented, down to earth co-coaches and leaders that I have ever met (and my professional career has covered many years of wonderful diversity and opportunity -- plus I am NOT a young chick!).😀
The journey never ends in educating ourselves with all the data out "there" and with tweaking and improving our day to day habits and meal plans. But that ongoing learning, exploring and tweaking experience is one of the things I've treasured the most about my plant based journey.
Looking back over the past 6 years -- especially the last 18 months -- I realized several things that help me succeed in becoming healthier, over 50 pounds lighter🤪, far fitter physically and with more energy than I can remember having in over 40 years. These include:
- I made improving my mental and physical health a true priority in the living of my days - that meant being committed to making the time for these very important and life-changing priorities
- I clearly identified my health vitality goals (e.g. to improve my food choices and overall nutrition, to embark on an in-depth study of reliable data on a whole food plant based life style, to improve my exercise routines, to build a supportive community of vegan/plant based friends).
- I monitored my progress regularly to ensure I was giving adequate time and attention to each of the categories listed above and not biting off more than I could handle at any one time.
- I was patient with myself and body and trusted that positive changes would become realities both physically and mentally.
- I held on to my gratitude - That's always a great attitude to hang onto, but I reminded myself often to be grateful for every little step I made that moved me closer and closer to my healthy vitality goals. I have learned the hard way too many times that if we are overly impatient with the time it takes to reach our goals then we are setting ourselves up for disapointment, injury or both.
If you choose and embrace a sustained whole food plant based life style as I have, I do not believe you will ever regret it. You'll come to understand why I answer the following frequently asked question as I do:
"Nancy, Where do you get your will power and stay motivated to continue your whole food plant base life style?"
My no thinker reply is this:
"ZERO motivation is necessary - It is not a strong will power that kept me on this quality of life-giving journey. It is rather:
- The huge variety of recipes and foods there are just so scrumptiously delicious.
- How I feel which is fantastic, strong and grateful.
- How the quality of my days has improved beyond the loftiest of my expectations....and
- How my life style is strongly supported by a huge amount of reliable and extensive scientifically-based data to explain exactly WHY I am feeling so good -- and -- that data bank is growing every single day. Has the data been ignored and supressed by the dairy and meat industries and other institutions with more concern over their profits than our health? Yes clearly it has, but the evidence is nevertheless clear and abundant and it is not going away.
Do vegan/whole food plant based folks live longer? There's plenty of evidence indicating they absolutely do. Death, of course, will come to each of us whether vegan or not. But! Until my final day arrives, I know that the path I have chosen has changed the quality of my days for the better 1000 times over.
Are you ready to start your healthiest ever vitality transformation?
Bottom line --- It's never too late to start when it comes to creating and truly living our best health vitality plans -- whether that means better nutrition, more consistent exercising and movement, improving how we manage the stresses of our lives, learning how to enhance the quality of our sleep and all the other ways that will help us live our most healthy and balanced life.
The sooner the better, however, will always be a wise choice for each of us. Because if we don't invest in ourselves, who will?🌻
P.S. You can click the buttons below to visit my posts on plant based recipes and healthy vitality essentials. ⬇️