Healthy from the Inside Out

Healthy from the Inside Out

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Hello to a Better Body!

Healthy from the
Inside Out

I stepped on the bathroom scale. It groaned, and then revealed that I had gained a significant amount of weight during my painful, drawn-out divorce. At age fifty, I knew that excess weight could create serious health issues. It was time to take action.

Throughout my life I tried fad diets, and with youth on my side I was able to manage my weight successfully. I found it easy to shed the weight I’d gained during my two pregnancies and if I gained weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it came off easily with some attention to diet and a little extra exercise.

However, once I hit menopause the weight didn’t come off as quickly or as easily as it had in the past. It seemed that if I so much as looked at chocolate cake it would show up on my hips! I realized that if I wanted to win the battle of my bulge I would have to take an entirely different approach to weight loss. I had to make lifestyle changes.

One day, while perusing the health and fitness section of the local bookstore, I came across a book touting the benefits of eating raw.

I began to read about the benefits of eating fresh fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, and juicing versus eating processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and white flour. I was intrigued. I purchased the book and my education began.

I learned that cooking vegetables depletes the vitamin content and can reduce enzymes necessary for efficient digestion. Eating raw vegetables combats diseases such as diabetes and cancer — both diseases prevalent in my family history. Raw vegetables provide an excellent source of fiber, resulting in feeling fuller, longer. As a result, the urge to snack diminishes. Fruit contains a good amount of water resulting in hydration and provides an excellent source of vitamins. The natural sugar found in fruit gives us a boost to get through the mid-afternoon blahs.

After reading the book from cover to cover, coming to terms with the poor food choices I made in the past, and forgiving myself for my ignorance regarding said choices, I was ready mentally and emotionally to move from a sugar-rich and white flour-rich diet to a diet rich in raw foods. I was ready to commit to hard work and discipline so I could reclaim my good health.

Initially, moving to a sugar-free diet was tough. I experienced withdrawal symptoms: headache, diarrhea, nausea, lethargy. Despite all this, I knew my body would benefit and that kept me motivated. I sought support from a friend who was familiar with eating raw and her encouragement helped immensely.

After eating raw for about two weeks I noticed that my skin began to look younger and took on a softer tone. My mind was sharper. I began to sleep soundly without waking in the wee hours for no apparent reason. My heartburn began to dissipate; the antacids I regularly chewed to dispel the discomfort remain untouched. Mood swings disappeared, as did the bloating I had experienced in my fingers and ankles. Not only did I feel great, I looked great, too. For the first time in years I felt healthy from the inside out. An added benefit? Within the first four weeks I lost sixteen pounds and I was ecstatic!

After four weeks, I added exercise to my regimen. I began walking around the outside of the building in which I worked, a distance of half a mile, twice daily during my fifteen-minute breaks. The sunshine provided me with vitamin D. The fresh air gave me a natural high. During periods of inclement weather I’d walk in the mall after work or use a low-impact glider that I purchased at a yard sale. I even got a headset for my telephone so I could talk with friends and family while exercising!

When I reached a weight loss plateau I was not concerned because I knew that my body was adjusting to the new foods, exercise, and vitamins I’d introduced. But when that plateau continued for three weeks I became frustrated. I called my friend for advice.

“Just keep exercising and watch what you eat. Eventually your body will respond,” she told me.

Two weeks after our conversation I was still at the same weight. Again, I called her for advice. We talked at length regarding what I ate, when I ate, how much I ate and how much I was exercising.

“Increase your water intake,” she recommended. “If you add a little bit of fresh lemon juice or lime juice to the water that might make it easier to drink. It will take some time but you’ll definitely benefit from the additional water.”

Following her advice, I began to increase my water intake. I drank water rather than coffee during my morning commute. I replaced my mid-morning coffee at my desk with water and included an additional eight ounces on my evening commute home. Drinking additional water became part of my routine and the benefits showed — my joints no longer ached and my skin looked less wrinkled. Best of all, when I stepped on the scale two weeks later I had lost nearly four additional pounds!

I have since continued to lose weight as I have made healthy choices — replacing white flour products with wheat flour, replacing beef with poultry, and by reading product labels to identify unhealthy ingredients. I have maintained my exercise program.

Everyone’s life is different. For this reason, I asked a lot of questions to find what would work best for me, would fit into my schedule and allow me to integrate wellness into my personal routine in an enjoyable way. The methods that had worked for me when I was younger didn’t work once I turned fifty. However, by making a few lifestyle changes I have improved my overall health. This has been the path to my success — a path I will continue to walk for the rest of my life.

~ Elisa Yager ~

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