KEVIN KLEIN, MyToba.ca
I remember the day I crossed over to the 40s. No big deal, right? I felt younger than I did when I hit 30 and if I kept telling myself that, it should come to fruition. I did not and I was hit with the reality that I had to make changes to my lifestyle to maintain my health and shape. This is not easy and it requires more effort than I thought it would when making the decision.
The first big obstacle was eating habits. Why is it that we are addicted to all the stuff that will kill us? Think about it. We are easily addicted to soda pop, tobacco, sugar, salt, caffeine, chocolate bars, bread, fried foods and so on and so on. Our bodies crave these toxins daily … why? In my younger years, pop and chips were a food group. I became accustomed to eating that at any time of the day — no harm, right? — I was young, invincible and I was addicted! I have never met someone who is addicted to lettuce but most of us are not trained that way.
Companies make a fortune off our bad choices. They’re like “dealers” with their TV commercials, low-cost food, fancy packaging and sports-celebrity endorsements. How many times have we heard “After a tough game, I reach for an ice-cold pop.” I use that term as description for a few beverages, if you know what I mean. They make it all look so good … what’s the harm? Look at those people having a great time and in great shape. Then without even knowing it, we’re hooked!
After 30-some years of treating my body like an amusement park, it craved the bad foods (like we all do when we go to the fair) and it became harder and harder to get clean. I realized I needed to go cold turkey to help teach my body to be addicted to healthy foods. In the beginning I just couldn’t go out for lunch or dinner, no way, I just didn’t have the will power. I found it was best to simply stay away from such places until I had rebooted my system.
Going cold turkey for a few months worked for me in the end. I tried a scaled-back process where I only ate junk food every other day but found I binged on those days making up for lost time. I attempted the weekend cheat strategy, eat well on weekdays and let yourself enjoy life on the weekend, didn’t work. I found I was still addicted to junk food and now simply saw it as a reward. That meant I could indulge. I did so well all week, I deserved it ultimately, meaning the bad food remained important to me and continued to negatively impact me.
The only solution that worked for me was cold turkey for three months. It was hard, very hard, but after a while I was feeling better. I had much more energy. I was more alert and conscious of what I was eating. It is much easier when you have a partner committed to the same program, you suffer together, just being honest.
Today we do indulge in “treats” but we are able to implement little steps to reduce the impact. For example, if dessert is ordered we always share. In fact, going out for dinner is simple — skip the bread and drink a glass of water before your meal arrives. Staying away from soda pop was very easy with flavoured water. Six months into this program you actually enjoy your food choices as you are more aware. The one thing that stands out most to me is I don’t see food as a reward as much as it is a necessity.
Are you living life after 40? My suggestion is to start your healthy eating. I wish I was taught this when I was younger. Which is why I fully support the programs that many school boards have implemented allowing only certain foods on school property, bravo! Now if we could just convince the leaders of our nation that they need to find a way to ensure healthy food is affordable for all, because today junk food is the only choice for many people, given the cost.