37: Making My Health a Priority

37: Making My Health a Priority

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Making My Health a Priority

The greatest wealth is health.

~Author Unknown

As the daughter of a doctor and part of a loving family, I was always taken care of. I wasn’t responsible for my health and nutrition for the first eighteen years of my life. Besides, back then, there really was not too much knowledge about nutrition.

In 1984, due to the national war, dictatorship, and communism in my native country, Nicaragua, I moved to Costa Rica to pursue my university studies. I was on my own and had to figure out a way to take care of myself. I was busy studying; therefore my meals consisted of whatever fast food was available between the university campus and the National Library.

After graduating, I got married, but we couldn’t go back to Nicaragua in the midst of war, and we couldn’t stay in Costa Rica as our student permits expired after graduation. We had nowhere to go. Then we learned about a beautiful land that was opening opportunities for immigrants… Canada. After some research, I was convinced of the fact that Canada was the best place to live in the world. There was true democracy, freedom, no violence, no judgment, and countless opportunities for our new family. Even though it sounded too good to be true, we immigrated to Canada in March 1988.

My husband and I came to Toronto with one small suitcase and a box of books, with no clear awareness of what Canada was about, just hoping that the war and dictatorships we experienced our entire life would be over for good. As an immigrant, there were many challenges to overcome, and no time to think about my health; it was not even an issue, so why should I care? We had so many other things to worry about, such as finding a job, working on our language skills, adapting to the new culture, and learning to live without the extended family connections. I missed my mom, dad and siblings very much during an age when there was no Internet, Skype or cheap phone calls.

Our finances were very tight, but I was so happy to think I could live in a democracy; I didn’t pay attention to small details such as the weather. We didn’t realize that moving in the middle of winter might not have been the best idea. We encountered our first challenge, moving from +30 degrees Celsius to -30 degrees Celsius, a 60-degree difference overnight! We handled the challenges one by one and appreciated them as big opportunities in our newly found dreamland.

A couple of years down the road we obtained permanent residence in Canada, which was a major gift from God. We finally had a place we could call home. Our first kid, Sergio, was on his way, and I was so happy to finally look forward to a future. I forgot about myself again, and for the next twenty years I dedicated one hundred percent of my efforts and my time to my family and to my newly founded business, a translation agency. I thought success was having a happy family, perfect kids and a growing business, and I was so focused on all that, that I just forgot about my body. I gave birth to Adriana and when I had my third child, Juan, I was already carrying thirty-five extra pounds. Even though I would prepare what I considered back then “healthy meals” for the kids, I was not doing the same for myself. There was no time allocated to taking care of myself, and since I had no medical issues, I had no worries. I thought I was made of steel.

In 2008 I attended an Anthony Robbins event that motivated me to work on several areas of my life. The big breakthrough that impacted me the most was working on my health. I realized that, unless I did something right then and there, I would not last for too long. I had three amazing kids, teenagers at the time, who still needed me.

Being in my early forties, I only had mild health issues; it was easy for me to “catch” a cold or flu, I had headaches, allergies and some temporary conditions. During the seminar, I understood what could happen to my future if I didn’t take immediate action, so I did. I decided to eliminate from my diet all red meat and coffee, and I decided, for the first time ever, to be in charge of my health and prioritize it in my life. From then on, I started to add small changes, one at a time. If I could stop drinking coffee, I could do anything! I knew I had too many things to learn and correct to do it all at once.

After eliminating red meat and coffee, my next step was to introduce water with lemon to my diet. I also started to do yoga regularly, I switched my office chair for a stability ball, I drastically reduced my intake of acidic foods, such as meats, dairy (switching regular milk to almond milk was huge for me), commercially prepared products, canned foods, sugar, bad oils, and much more.

I finally understood what juicing could do for the body, and this was a major change for me as it required some of my “precious time.” I strongly believe that my daily green smoothie has a lot to do with the fact that I have not had a cold, flu or allergy symptom in over six years! After twenty years of carrying thirty-five extra pounds, I released them and kept them off, and my pants size went from a size 10 to a size 4. I feel fantastic!

I understood the impact of stress and excess cortisol in my health. I regularly do guided meditations, I learned to breathe properly (which most people do not know how to do, by the way), and I do it daily as part of my routine. I have gone through forgiveness exercises that allowed me to be at peace with myself and others. Stress and negative emotions create more acidity in our bodies than the worst foods we could ever eat. I am still in the process of learning to slow down while cultivating positive emotions on a daily basis.

I am happy that I have been influencing my family, friends and colleagues to also take care of themselves and have become, as I define myself, an ambassador of health and happiness. I have more energy than ever before and I am still on the journey of taking care of the only body I have. I finally made the time to take care of myself and thrive!

~Lola Bendana

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