If I Could Get in the Best Shape of My Life, Anyone Can
I'm not a nutritionist. I'm not a personal trainer. I'm not a yoga instructor. I have no certifications or formal education in health and wellness at all.
That is why you should read this.
I'm a Chartered Professional Accountant, a network marketing professional, and a dog-sitter.
So, I'm a normal person.
But I'm a normal person who, in the past year, has lost about 20 pounds and, more importantly, am feeling and looking better than I ever have. Before I tell you how I got there and how I’ve stayed there, let me give you a bit of background about myself.
I’m a Canadian-born Chinese. I grew up on a typical Chinese-Canadian diet. Fried noodles or rice with processed meats was common. Take-out food like pizza, burgers, and fries were quite regular. Oh and a few veggies... sometimes. I also drank a lot. I ate whatever I felt like eating and paid no attention to what it was doing to my body or how it was making me feel.
I’m about 5'10. In March 2016, I was 170 pounds. It’s not the weight that matters. However, most of that was around my belly and my chin. Even though I exercised two or three times a week I felt pretty lethargic (at least compared to now).
During that month, I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross about the benefits of juicing and doing a juice cleanse. To even my own surprise, before I knew it, I was ordering a juicer online. A week later, the juicer arrived, and I started a juice cleanse. For seven days, I drank three to four juices a day and didn’t eat any food. I was hungry the first few days. By day four, however, I was feeling pretty energized! I had lost eight pounds. I wanted to maintain that level of energy so I started thinking about how I could do that (the juice cleanse was meant to “reboot” my digestive system. It was not a long-term lifestyle change).
That’s when I read Kimberly Snyder’s book, The Beauty Detox Solution. In this book, she talks about how to minimize the amount of energy your body has to spend on digestion by understanding the time it takes for the body to digest certain types of foods. You know this book was very easy to understand when someone like me, who previously had very little interest in nutrition, could relate to it.
As my juice cleanse ended, I started eating again with my health in mind. Being an Independent Consultant for Arbonne, a health and wellness company, I was surrounded by a community of others who were learning to do the same thing. I joined our 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond Program. The community we have doing this program has blessed me with tips, tricks, meal plans, recipes, and most of all, positive support. It helped me get into the habit of eating healthy regularly.
As I started losing more weight around my belly and chin, I felt better and better. I started working out more consistently. I followed Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training program and I follow his Early to Rise channel on YouTube. It provides short, high-intensity body-weight workouts that anyone can do from home. I do these types of workouts now about five days a week. The workouts range from four to twenty minutes, so they can be very short and efficient!
As I write this, I am 150 pounds. I'm leaner than ever, and I can safely say I have never felt this great in my life. To give you an idea of how I maintain this, here are some details on how I generally eat these days.
I make sure to eat more nutritious, whole foods like fruits, veggies, and good grains (brown rice, quinoa, for example). These are easy to digest. I mainly avoid dairy, refined sugar and starches, wheat, and gluten, because they are not easy to digest. If you just follow this paragraph, you will be able to transform your health. However, let me give you a glimpse into what I eat on an average day.
I start almost every day off with lemon water (lukewarm water with the juice from half a lemon). I then have a cold-pressed juice for breakfast almost every day, followed by an Arbonne Protein Snack Bar (or two). Later in the day, I have an Arbonne Protein Shake Meal Replacement — vegan protein, no artificial flavours or sweeteners, loaded with vitamins and minerals — blended with things like almonds, avocados, coconut milk, and mint.
Sometimes the shake will have me full until dinner. If not, then I have a small meal or snack in the afternoon as well (crackers or carrots dipped in hummus, a salad etc.).
For dinner, most of the time I will eat a meal loaded with nutrients and free of the unhealthy ingredients, which I described above. I simply search online for recipes to follow. Kimberly Snyder is a wonderful resource for recipes! A few meals a week (usually on weekends) I indulge in some of the meals I enjoyed growing up. Generally, I eat clean 80 percent of the time.
I know there are many people who grew up just like I did. We didn’t learn much about nutrition, and we ate whatever we felt like eating, and most the time it was not healthy food. If you’re in your late twenties or thirties right now, you are probably feeling pretty lethargic and tired very often, just like I was. What’s more, a lot of us like to write this off as “because I’m getting old”, and we just accept it, thinking it’s the normal course of life. I'm here to tell you it’s not, and that we not meant to feel that way. I'm here to tell you that if I could get out of that funk, anybody can.
Let me break down for you, from my experience, the key things to keep in mind if you want to change your habits and look and feel your best as well.
Keep it Simple
You want to look and feel healthier? Then eat healthier. Get in the habit of eating foods that are nutritious, and reduce (or eliminate) ones that are not.
I described to you above what I eat and what I try to avoid. That was through some research and picking the brains of others. You are free to do your own research about what’s healthy and what’s not and structure your meals accordingly. But again, keep it simple. If you complicate it and think about it too much, you will intimidate yourself and probably not even start.
Support and Influence
It will be very hard to get through making a change if you do not have support from others. If you’re surrounded by people who never think about nutrition and clean eating, sooner or later their attitude will rub off on you. Talk to them. Let them understand why you’re doing this. Often times, friends will at least give you moral support, cheer you on, and not try to get you to take one bite of the cake they’re eating for dessert.
Reading and following people who inspire you will do wonders. If you go back to my journey that I described above, you will notice that I got inspiration from several different sources: Joe Cross, Kimberly Snyder, my Arbonne community, and Craig Ballantyne. Those four pillars were, and still are, in my ear providing me with the inspiration I need to offset any negative influences I might come across.
Think Long-Term vs. Short-Term
Just like any other change, it will take time. If you are reading this and wanting to get healthier, chances are your eating habits right now are not serving you. Be patient as you work to change those habits. There might be times where you go back to your old habits and eat something you feel you shouldn’t have. In those cases, just look to your next meal and plan for something healthier. The goal is not to be perfect and eat 100% clean for a short period of time. The goal is to develop a regular routine where you default to thinking about the healthier options. If you can do that, more often than not you will be eating cleaner, healthier meals.
Also, remember that you don’t necessarily have to go for the home run right away. If eating clean the entire day is challenging for you, consider starting with changing your breakfast to something that is nutritious and easy to digest (a healthy protein shake is perfect). You can also start by changing your snacks — replace your afternoon coffee or candy bar with carrot sticks, a protein bar (a healthy one, like the Arbonne Protein Snack Bar), or fruit. Once you are used to that, then start making more changes gradually. Small changes matter.
This might be the most important. I used to think eating healthy meant “I can’t eat the food I love to eat.” That’s a scarcity mindset, my friends. I used to think people who ate healthily just ate salads and other bland foods 100% of the time. Instead of having that mindset where you’re trying to stop yourself from eating certain things, approach it as an opportunity to explore new foods. Through my exploration, I started to develop an appreciation for the taste and the benefits of all sorts of foods that were always an after-thought for me.
Open your heart to trying new things, and I guarantee you will find healthier things that you love. Over time, you will likely find yourself feeling a lot better, and you will begin to crave them just as much as you crave junk food.
So embrace the adventure. You will not only have fun along the way. You will have even more fun when your energy levels begin to skyrocket.
Good luck. Actually, you don't need it. You can do it. You're going to do it! Please do reach out if you want some support.