Many people use the new year as a time to take on new challenges, give up bad habits, and make positive changes. This year, I challenged myself to wake up EVERY morning with a positive, joyful attitude (regardless of my current circumstances). I also decided to challenge myself to eat ONLY whole foods for 30 days…just to see how I would feel and if I could do it. Well, it’s two weeks later and I am feeling amazing. I call it my “fresh start.”
I have been living a healthy life since 2011, when I decided to make a change and begin exercising 5-6 days a week (so, I’m not new…but I am always learning and growing). Many times, people ask me, “Josie, what should I eat?” Or, “Josie, can you send me some exercise ideas?” Of course, I always send them ideas and tips…but I always encourage people to think of food as fuel. I love thinking of food as fuel, because it’s a great image of how the body reacts to the foods you eat. A car needs good fuel in order to start its engine and operate properly. If your car is filled with bad fuel, it will not start. In order for your body to “start,” you need good fuel. Now, your body will run on “bad” fuel, but it will operate poorly and leave you feeling exhausted and disappointed.
So, what’s considered fresh?
When I tell people to eat fresh foods, I suggest purchasing their foods from around the outside of the grocery store. Aim for fresh veggies, fruits, lean meats, nuts and olive oils. Avoid going down the aisles, anything in cans, and especially anything processed or filled with sugars and sodium. Instead of going for the pre-canned veggies, purchase fresh veggies. Instead of buying canned soups, make your own soups using fresh foods. Still not sure what’s fresh and what’s blah? Don’t worry, I’m going to give you a meal guide that will help you understand what foods to aim for.
Now…when should you fuel your body with freshness?
EVERY day. Food is powerful and it has the ability to push you forward and keep you going or drag you down. I eat around five to six meals a day. “Josie, why do you eat so much?” Or, “Why do you eat so many carbs?” Food is FUEL, I’ve said that a few times now. Let’s go back to the image of the car. When your car runs out of gas, what happens? It stops! If I do not continue to fuel my body throughout the day, my metabolism will slow down and my body will begin storing fat. People who choose to skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner will experience difficulty in reaching their goals and sustaining their weight-loss victories. In fact, people who do not change their lives in a healthy way, with a sustainable mindset, will actually be more likely to gain that weight back at a rapid pace.
How do I know all of this?
I’ve been there and experienced this. In 2011, I decided to make a change in my life. I started eating healthy and exercising. At first, my new life consumed me… and I got addicted to losing weight (crazy, but so real). I ended up becoming underweight as I lost 40 pounds! I was skinny with no muscle and no energy. This is because I was only eating 3 meals a day with a strict caloric intake of 1200 calories per day. Not only was I counting calories, but I was also burning around 600-800 calories a day through exercise. It was not until 2013 that I realized I had a true problem and I needed to change the way I viewed my body and the way I fueled it. I began eating more and feeling better. In 2014, I began my weightlifting journey and started gaining muscle. I absolutely LOVE how my body feels now.
The hardest thing is getting started.
Once you start fresh, you will never want to return to your old ways. Now, I’m not saying that starting is a one-time event. Most people begin…but not everyone commits to their fresh start. It has to be a mind over matter type of change. You have to have a solid purpose that drives you or you will never overcome and commit. My purpose is rooted in my faith in God. My faith has driven me to want to share health and wellness with others and to encourage people to feel strong, empowered, and joyful. My prayer is that I glorify God through every action and every decision. My purpose is also my family. My family has struggled with heart disease, diabetes, and being overweight. I know if I continued down the path I was on (two McDonald’s Big Macs in one sitting + no exercise), I would experience heart disease, diabetes, and obesity…among many other chronic diseases. My purpose has driven my fresh start.
Today is a great day to begin. It’s a good day to write down your purpose and create a list of goals that will push you to make a change. A fresh start begins with a mind over matter decision. A fresh start begins with YOU.
Below is a fresh start plan to help get you started!!