How do you want to live your life? Live life to the fullest of course!

And why not? Don’t we all want to fill our lives to the brim with fun and (mis)adventures? We may not be aware of it, most of us treat life like we’re going to live forever. The bad news is, we’re all dying. Every day is a funeral march that brings us a step closer to the grave. But the good news is, we can drag our feet, take the long circuitous route, so long that it would allow us to live life to the fullest. 

The funny thing about it is that what can kill us, can also be the elixir that would let us live forever. Well, at least in the context of what’s forever in this day and age. I’m talking about food. It’s the key to a short life as well as a long one.

If there is an ode to food, I was the waddling and panting version of it.

When I worked a 9 to 5 job as a development worker, I dealt with stress through my insatiable appetite for fast food. I felt invincible and full all the time…but a debilitating and recurring migraine reminded me of my mortality.

I was in a love-hate relationship and like relationships of this kind, it was an unhealthy one. I knew I needed to get out of it. As expected, we know the right thing to do, but we don’t do anything about it because!

The words "organic" and "natural" used to intimidate me, mainly because they meant eating food that tasted like cardboard. Besides, I can’t live without pizza! Well, I can, but it’s not my idea of a happy existence if I keep my distance from that delicious cardiac delight! 

The thing about temptation is that sometimes the only way to truly make us resist it is to learn things the hard way. An illness, or worse, a death in the family reminds us that we are mortals. One day we’re going to stop breathing, whether it’s ten years into the future or tomorrow, it’s going to happen. But even if it’s the former, there is the quality of life to consider. Surely, we don’t want to suffer through the years because of an illness brought about by an unhealthy lifestyle.  

Whenever an illness reminds me of my mortality, my resolve to changing my lifestyle and not just my diet, becomes stronger. If I want to enjoy life, at over 200 lbs, and a waistline that’s fast exceeding my age, a transition to a natural lifestyle is in order.

Now, you can go cold turkey, go slow, or slow and easy.

If you're like me, you'll go with slow AND easy because a radical change often sends me tumbling down to a condition that’s worse before I started. I have noticed that in most cases of successful and effective weight management and lifestyle switch, it always starts in the kitchen. So rev up in the kitchen then once you conquer it, that’s the time to hit the floor!

Here are the surefooted steps towards a more natural lifestyle.

Quit Drinking Soda

The first thing to go from my diet was soda. It was a difficult move especially when I’m used to drinking it every day. When your body detoxifies, it goes through a phase that will leave you feeling all sorts of weird...and cranky! But after about a week, you’ll start to feel better. In two weeks’ time, your craving stops.

I drank water...lots of water during this transition. You can always add some flavor to your drink by infusing it with your favorite fruits and herbs. But I advise against drinking infused water throughout the day. Although fruits are natural, they still contain sugar.

Go Easy on the Sugar

I was on my 5th month without soda when I decided to remove one dessert from my meal a day. I always end my meal with a dessert. As someone who has the sweetest tooth, this was the hardest part for me.

Use coconut sugar, honey or stevia in place of your regular sugar. Better yet, eat fruits which have naturally-occurring sugar. Just how many servings do you need to consume everyday? The American Diabetes Association offers portion tips for fruit servings based on your body mass index.

Purge Your Pantry One Processed Food at a Time

While others seem to have no problem with this ritual process, it’s like burying a loved one for me. There’s grief each time I say goodbye to a favorite (I have a lot of favorites) processed food.

You may opt to do this week by week. I know that if I let go of one each day, they’d all be back in the fridge in two weeks. Slow AND easy…remember?

Just Move

You don’t have to have a gym membership to make sure that you’re in tip-top shape. All you need is to move – your body, some big muscle. Rolling your eyes does not count. You can go walking during your office break or hiking after dinner if you happen to be one of the lucky ones living in villages with a hiking trail or a wooded area for a backyard. Catch the sunrise, hell, chase the sunset…just move!

Get Enough Sleep

So much has been said about the benefits of getting enough sleep and they’re all true – we need to get enough of it. The thing is, we don’t need a guru to educate us of its benefits. I’ve woken up from 4 to 5 hours of sleep (even less) and went through my day mostly tired than productive. It’s a no-brainer.  

Get Support

It helps if your family is going through this transition with you. But if you’re going solo on this, it helps to have a community to make the process easier for you. If you can’t find a local group that’s motivated to do the same thing, try searching online. I’m sure Facebook won’t disappoint.

Cook from Scratch

To ensure that you’re slowly detoxifying your body from all those junk food, avoid eating fastfood and prepare your own meal instead.

This part of the transition may seem too daunting a task but weekly meal planning can help you manage your time as well as your budget. Going for natural food is not expensive if you plan your meals well.

Shop at your local farmer’s market and load up your basket with organic produce. Eat seasonally.

Grow Your Own Garden

There is nothing more empowering than watching a living thing grow under the care of your hands. You can transform your backyard into one big, beautiful garden. But if you don’t have a green thumb, well, get some help either from a friend or try a different approach like aquaponics where fish can help you grow your plants.

These are baby steps, but integrating these into your life repeatedly and long enough for these to become a habit can only bring about good results. You don’t have to suffer and deprive yourself of good and delicious food to be healthy. Believe me you can choose a natural and healthy lifestyle and truly enjoy it. The question is, how willing are you to make that change now?

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