There are two pandemics affecting the world right now: COVID-19 and obesity. My concern is people are willing to talk openly about the former, yet there is hesitancy and uneasiness in openly addressing the latter for fear of embarrassing someone and being labeled as a body shamer. Frankly, obesity is one of today’s most blatantly visible and most neglected public health problems.
Most people’s lives are touched in some way by obesity, whether It’s being obese themselves or knowing someone who Is — and I am no exception. I have personally lived an obese life for many years. It was only when my doctor informed me, I was pre-diabetic and my lifestyle needed a major overhaul that I decided to make life-saving decisions and change my daily habits. At first, I was in denial and hesitant to change my lifestyle, but eventually accepted that changes had to be made.
As I was running this morning, I was listening to the Impact Theory Podcast with Mel Robbins as a guest, and many of her points could be attributed to diet. She stated, “Silence and hesitation are decisions.” When I was overweight and pre-diabetic, I made the decision every day to live with myself the way I was (obese). I made excuses not to have to do the work, instead saying I would get in shape later or go to the gym after I lose a few pounds. I, like many other people, was one decision away from anything I truly wanted. I’ve realized in a split-second of time, emotions have a strong effect on our decisions, which later impact our food choices (emotional eating), which further impact our health, well-being, and mindset. It’s in those tiny micro-moments of time that we need take control of our thoughts and decisions in a way that will actually allow us to shift our trajectory.
Ultimately, quality of life comes down to the decisions people make. If people change those decisions with healthy goals in mind, they change everything for the better. People have a choice to be on “diet autopilot” (denial) or make a mindful choice to change. I think we all know what to do, but none of us understands how to do it. Sometimes just knowing how to get started can get the ball rolling in the right direction. From my own experience, I’ve come to believe that if it’s truly important to you, you figure out how to self-regulate and apply yourself. This change comes about when you believe in yourself and your capabilities enough to want to be better, stronger, and healthier, and, in return, want to share your successes and failures in order to help inspire others (see photos).
We are all flawed; it’s the beauty of being human. Yet instead of trying to make our lives perfect, we should learn to accept our weaknesses and start working on or shortcomings. For me, my weakness was my diet — lack of self-control because I love sweets — and my increasingly sedentary lifestyle. People consciously make the decision to stay where they are, whether it’s to stay stuck in a job they despise, stay in a toxic relationship, or stay in a body they are not proud of because they refuse to change their diet. People won’t always feel ready to make changes, and people don’t always want to do what’s difficult, even when their health depends on It. It’s not going to be easy, but the right decision is fairly simple to make. We all struggle with self-doubt, and change comes down to our own decision to want to change. Ultimately, we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones.
Changing one’s diet can be as simple as a Google search, in order to see which foods to eliminate from their daily intake, or one can take it upon themselves to make more concentrated micro-changes. As for me, one of the biggest changes was adopting a low carbohydrate/high fat diet. It’s similar to keto, but I like to take it further and call it “Clean Keto.” People can easily choose to eat their double cheeseburger with bacon wrapped in a lettuce leaf and go into ketosis, OR they can make a better choice to eat cleaner by eating less-processed, whole foods. One example of a small, simple change In diet could be making a marinade with a buttery flavored oil, such as Malaysian Palm, which is an Incredible renewable resource. Malaysian Palm also hits all the sustainability bullet points.
Quite frankly, people don’t even need a standardized recipe to understand and cook a meal. For example, recently I had a fire going for some freshly caught fish (alternately, you could use some clean, grass-fed beef or pasture-raised pork or chicken). I also had a head of cauliflower in the fridge, so I trimmed the leaves off the cauliflower, put the cauliflower in a cast-iron pot with a lid, and added a dressing of minced garlic, shallot, lemon juice, anchovies, palm oil, and red-pepper flakes to the pot. I added a few ounces of veggie stock (or substitute water), put the lid on, and placed the pot it in the coals. Twenty minutes later, I had a flavorful, sliceable head of cauliflower to accompany my fish. The resulting liquid made a quick, impromptu sauce. It was a healthy, clean eating within minutes, made from leftover ingredients that I had on-hand.
I believe that anyone can make mindful choices when they have a strong desire. I would ask people who are obese and/or have health concerns to visualize how they would like their optimal body to look. Subsequently, I would pose a follow-up question: “How would the person in that optimal body chose to eat today, at this very moment, in order to maintain that strong, healthy physique?”