How Do You Feel?

How do you feel? 

This is the question I get asked most often since making the decision to become a vegetarian and rid our home of foods with added chemicals and preservatives. The question is a loaded one–one that I get the feeling many ask in order to see if the benefit is worth the cost. I often tell people that I feel great and that I am definitely noticing a change in my body and overall wellness. This couldn’t be more true. Nearly two months into this lifestyle change, I fully believe that adjusting my eating habits has played a role in the changes I’ve noticed. However, I’ve got to be perfectly honest and admit that a huge part of why I’m feeling so great is that for once, I’m in control.

For the first time, I’ve made a change without the goal of losing weight but rather to be the healthiest version of myself possible. Lord knows I have a TON of weight to lose, but that’s not my focus. My mom has always told me that in the grand scheme of life, I’ve always conquered whatever I set my mind to: school, extracurriculars, my career. My health, though, has always been put on the back burner in order to achieve my dreams and goals.

It was this realization that led me to the place I am right now. I’ve realized that, after years of hearing my mother say it, achieving my dreams and accomplishing goals means nothing if I’m not healthy. Therefore, I’ve stumbled upon a few things that I want to gain out of this journey:

  • I want to push myself beyond the limits I previously imagined were impossible.
  • I want to be fit. I want to be strong. I want to gain endurance.
  • I want to be an exception to the notion that black women don’t care about their health and that they don’t run.
  • I want to be an inspiration.
  • I want to run a 5k, a 10k, a half, and eventually a full marathon.
  • I want to take charge of my health BEFORE being told by a doctor that I have to make a change…or else.

I’m not naive enough to believe that these things won’t take an uncomfortable amount of sacrifice and even more time. A lover of all things sweet and anything carbonated, each and every day is a struggle and a string of conscious decisions to ultimately get myself to the person I want to be. I am surrounded by a great support system who encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing [even if they do enjoy telling me how good bacon is]. We experiment with new recipes, restaurants, and grocery stores now. Much to the amazement of my friends and family, vegetarian and non-processed foods are actually pretty tasty and while they take a little more reading and prep-time, it may in fact be worth it all in the end.

However, there are times when I come into contact with people who want to tempt me to “cheat” in order to feel better about themselves. Much like my religious beliefs, I’m not going to force what I’m doing on anyone. It must be a conscious decision made in the heart and soul of the individual in order for it to be successful. However, I must say that the biggest challenge I’ve faced in all of this is not the day in and day out decisions to make healthy choices and seeking better alternatives for my old food loves, but the overwhelming amount of people who want me to fail.

It seems that the apostle Paul knew exactly what he was talking about when he said in Phillipians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Every painful run, every hard decision, and every workout class is a sacrifice and an act of dying to myself, my temptations, and my selfish desires. While most people may not see eating and working out as a spiritual journey, it’s been just that for me. I tell Loman all the time that I did what I wanted and ate what I wanted for so long and now I’m paying for those choices. I’ve often been accused of being too much of a “feeler,” but for once, I think this trait is working to my advantage. 🙂

All in all, the question “How do you feel?” is a loaded one. I give the same answer every time in an attempt to save time, but this is what I’m really thinking every time I’m asked.

Thanks for reading.

-B

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