Why Bother With Clean Eating?
Last week two things came my way that inspired this blog post from me. Firstly, although I hardly ever watch TV (not out of principal, only because French TV is not really my thing, and I’m too lazy to spend time channel surfing), I saw that Sean Penn/Susan Sarandon flick “Dead Man Walking” and it got me to thinking about many things, including “What would I eat if I knew I would die and was given a last meal?” I promise you, I had many deep thoughts about this movie too… (amazing movie if you have not seen it).
And secondly, my Facebook feed showed a post by Richard Gere (yeah, right, as though he posts on Facebook!) about how we have to appreciate our loved ones every day because we never know when they might be gone. In the post, he wrote about how someone he loved was super duper healthy (eating right, exercising, no vices, etc) and died of some horrible disease. And then how someone else he knew was a party-kind-of-guy who was the opposite of healthy and lived a long, happy, disease-free life.
So I thought to myself, what the heck is Richard Gere promoting here (okay, I know it was someone else…but still)? Isn’t he an ordained Tibetan monk? Certainly a vegetarian or vegan … All that to say, Sean Penn and Richard Gere got me thinking this week about why we bother to be healthy sometimes. Go figure.
Why does anyone bother to be healthy?
It IS true that we could all die tomorrow, or crossing the street at lunchtime today, or of some terrible disease regardless of how healthy our habits. But honestly, we could also live very long lives too, right?
More importantly, which I’ve come to realize is the reason I spend my time promoting wellbeing at all, I truly believe that what we are all really after (in whatever form you pursue this) is feeling great. Sometimes we go about this in not-so-healthy ways. Regardless, a lot of what we do in life is about our pursuit of feeling great: physically, mentally, spiritually, psychologically….
Eating clean (as in ditching most processed or factory made foods), and including some form of exercise daily, plus sleeping enough (apparently for the vast majority of adults this should be in the 7-8 hour time frame) is my idea of healthy. Since I live in France, the French version of clean eating is totally up my alley. Not restricting food groups, not being extreme in any direction, eating mostly whole foods, cooking at home, and, most importantly, the occasional coupe de champagne and vanilla éclair (or an Ile Flottante, mousse au chocolat noir, tarte au citron… you get the picture)! Oh yeah … there is no way I’m going on any clean eating bender if there isn’t some type of yummy dessert on the weekly plan.
More importantly than “being healthy” to me, is “feeling great”. My friend Liz once said something to me like, “We have no idea how many people are walking around feeling like crap every day! And I think they might not even know any better because it’s how they’ve felt forever!” I know that when I eat too much junk, go overboard on alcohol, skip the water and don’t move and sleep enough…I feel terrible!
What is terrible to me?
Tired (that’s the worst!), bloated, pessimistic, stuffed, sad, undernourished, lethargic, demotivated. The list goes on. What strikes me the most about not being healthy is not necessarily the physical manifestations (weight gain, bloat, dreary looking skin, limp hair…) but the mental ones. A beautiful Sunday with my family after a big night out drinking, eating too much and not enough sleep is the worst for me! Time feeling like I was run over by a large vehicle, when I could be enjoying it in nature with the people I love. Not. Worth. It.
Some people might feel like this often. So back to my point about living in general. Do I want to spend my days alive on Earth feeling like crap and unmotivated or do I want to feel great and enthusiastic? To me, that’s the reason to be healthy – it actually feels great!
I have talked to many, many, many women about lack of motivation, bad eating habits, non-existent fitness schedule or, the issue that plagues us ALL: a busy life! No matter how organized we are (promise to get to this post in the next month or so!), how “simple” we try to make our lives and how in control we feel – life these days is really busy if you have any or all of the following: family, kids, work, school, social life, hobbies, etc, etc, etc.
And lots of times, “being healthy” seems like a “to-do” list item (post it notes that say: “eat clean”, “eat more veggies”, “go to the gym”, “walk 10k steps”, “skip dessert”) and something to achieve when all of life’s ducks are lined up in a row. “Healthy” can seem drastic, a total re-haul, a large mountain to start climbing in the future, last on the to-do list, no fun, too tiring, for other people who are motivated, for health freaks and athletes…
But if you just commit to changing one or two little habits every once in a while, they will add up and you will notice a change in your moods, your disposition, your enthusiasm, your motivation. Start with anything — whether it’s fitness or eating. Commit to one thing you don’t necessarily do that well, but make it a small change! Don’t drink enough water? Commit to an extra two cups a day this week. Then increase with time, but keep going. Keep promising to exercise more? Commit to an extra walk/run/hike/swim/whatever on the weekend, and once you’ve kept it up for several weeks, do a bit more. Small changes can make you feel great. When you start feeling great, you want to keep it up!
The difference between being alive and feeling great is just amazing
And it’s obtainable by almost all of us, no matter where we are in our wellbeing journey.
And, just for the record, if I were to order a last meal, it would definitely include some amazing poultry and roasted vegetables, Ho-Ho’s (I’m a child of the 70s brought up in suburban America…hello?), Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (jumbo-sized if they exist), watermelon, grilled eggplant, Suzie’s Cupcakes (if you live in the San Francisco area, I feel sorry for your clean eating regime!) and FOR SURE the most delicious item ever produced on planet Earth: Argentinian Alfajores in dulce de leche and chocolate! I’m definitely crossing over to the other side with an Alfajore in my belly! Thank goodness they are totally unavailable where I live cause this whole post and going on about moderation would be a SHAM if I could buy them myself!
Wishing you a HAPPY week ahead! The benefits are just as mental as they are physical. With warmer weather around the corner, walking is a great option! And don’t forget: When you inspire others, you’re actually inspiring yourself at the same time!
I’m a 20 plus newlywed, nutrition student and aspiring writer, with a love for chocolate, oatmeal and exercise. I enjoy exercising and learning about nutrition and health, and I am currently training for my first half marathon.