The first step to a new you: put down the soda and make some tea

Janice Daniels

Two years ago I was 80 pounds heavier than I am right now and since I am still fairly new to being “average” sized, I am constantly asked “How did you do it?”

I don’t know exactly what it was that sparked all that motivation in me, but I knew I wasn’t going to quit until I got where I wanted to be. I changed my eating habits, cut the fast food, did a ton of research on the internet, started shopping at health food stores, started cooking, became a vegetarian and about a year ago, I began practicing the vegan lifestyle.

My friend Tanya and I in December of 2009; A few months before I decided I needed a change in my eating habits.

Posing with a delicious batch of vegan ginger cookies in October of 2011. 

No one told me to lose weight or even guided me on how to do it. I just woke up one day and started doing it myself. I remember when I first started, I ate the stereotypical healthy stuff such as granola bars, yogurt, string cheese, banana chips and salads. As my research progressed, I found myself drifting further away from all of those things. These foods were a great way to initiate a healthy lifestyle, but I eventually learned those “healthy” foods are not so healthy after all. What is healthy about limiting yourself to only what you think are healthy options and leaving out the stuff you really like?

I read a great book called “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works,” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, that informs on how detrimental dieting is to the body and mind and how honoring biological hunger – all while also teaching yourself to form healthy eating habits – is the key to being satisfied with your body image.

In the book it states, “Fasting or restricting is particularly detrimental to appetite control. It simply turns on the neurochemical switches that induce us to eat.” 

I believe a healthy person is someone who gets adequate nutrition through food she enjoys eating, not food they feel they have to eat in order to live in the bodies they dream of.

You’re probably thinking: But the food I enjoy eating is unhealthy. That’s where the hard part comes in. When I first started eating healthy, the food I wanted to eat was crap, too, but I knew if I was going to live a long life then I had to change my way of thinking and develop wants for nutritious food. I’m certainly not saying I don’t want crap anymore, because I am human and crap tastes good once in a while. What I am saying, though, is that it is important to train your mind to want nutritious stuff also, that way you aren’t caught up eating only junk all the time.

Once you wean your body off of the junk you normally eat on a regular basis, you will eventually stop craving it. Ever heard the saying, “It takes 21 days to break a habit?” From my own experiences, I find it to be true. Of course, 21 days without soda will feel like detoxing off crack for some, but once you break through it and no longer crave it anymore, you will be satisfied without it.

Find healthy things to replace the bad stuff you used to consume. For example, tea- I’m not talking about tooth-rotting Arizona, either! – instead of soda, or whole grain bread instead of white bread? Even doing something such as choosing to eat chicken or fish instead of red meat can make the biggest difference in the bathroom (you know what I mean) and in the way you feel about yourself.

This is some tasty red MarieBelle tea I got in Williams, Calif. at Granzella’s shop. Who needs soda when you have this? 

This might sound like another health column from “Self” magazine, but I am not someone who is telling you this stuff only because I have the power, knowledge and degree to do so. Instead, I am telling you this because I have experienced it for myself and want to help others better their own lives through good, nutritious food.

Remember to start small by setting small goals that you can easily accomplish, but don’t put too much on your plate at once. Once you are consistently achieving these small goals, it will get easier and easier and the satisfaction you gain from reaching those goals will only motivate you even more.

Daily goals are a great way to start. For example, if you eat out a lot, make a goal not to eat out today. Then, do the same thing tomorrow. Take it day by day and it will get easier. But remember, feeling healthy is not something that happens overnight, and it will take a lot of patience.

Changing your lifestyle is not nearly as much about exercise as it is about the food you choose to eat. If you eat junk, that five hours you spent at the gym hardly counts because someday, when you stop going to the gym, all you’ll have left are those darn bulges on your butt and a bad heart due to the donuts you could never bring yourself to stop eating.

Now get off YouTube, go grab an apple and take a freaking walk. It just might be that first step to a new you! 

Janice Daniels can be reached at [email protected]