Eating for Freedom
This month, we celebrated our Freedom and Independence on the 4th of July. But even as independent people living in a free country, with the freedom to choose our career path or decide what goes into our bodies, so many of us don’t exactly feel ‘free’ as we’re weighed down by the effects of unhealthy habits. We feel tied down by our climbing weight and hectic schedules, which can leave little “me time” to cook and exercise. The good news is the freedom of choice that got us where we are, also gives us a way out. It’s your choice if you get up 30 minutes early to go for a walk. It’s your choice if you pack a lunch instead of getting caught off guard and going for the vending machine. The freedom to choose can be liberating if the choices you make benefit your health. Even with our freedom to choose, we know how a rushed, hectic schedule can leave you feeling as though the choices are limited. But an on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t have to mean poor nutritional choices. If you have found yourself grabbing convenience foods in the form of fried, greasy meals because you don’t have the time to cook or plan ahead, Tropical Smoothie Café can help you move from fast-food bondage to fresh (and healthy) food freedom! Using your freedom of choice to select a nutritious and balanced food plan will lead to other forms of freedom:
Freedom from Fat:
Saying “no” to trans fats and processed foods and replacing them with fresh fruits and veggies will get your health back on track. Choosing fresh and healthy foods (like our delicious Thai Chicken Salad) is exercising your freedom of choice wisely. If you’re carrying a lot of extra pounds, your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases jumps way up. Dropping even a few extra pounds can lower blood pressure and begin to reverse existing health issues. Imagine if you had 20 pounds to lose. That’s four 5-lb. sacks of flour. If you had four bags of flour in your arms right now, you would get tired during the course of your day a lot quicker than if you weren’t dealing with that extra weight. Now drop the bags (mentally, so you’re not sweeping up flour). Are you feeling lighter and freer already?
Freedom from Fatigue:
Many overweight people begin to experience problems with getting enough sleep, and may even be dealing with sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, you stop breathing for a few seconds to a minute or longer. The brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it’s hard on the heart, there’s a severe lack of the restorative REM sleep and you wake up feeling exhausted. This is a cycle that, if left untreated, can become very serious, leaving you feeling increasingly tired and fatigued. Also, salty, greasy foods are not good for the brain function. That inability to concentrate – that foggy cloud feeling – can be lifted when you’re eating the right foods. Now that’s freeing!
Freedom of Movement:
A sedentary lifestyle contributes to the gradual accumulation of excess weight over the years. It also contributes to joint pain, back stiffness, a decrease in lean muscle mass and a limited range of motion. The heavier you become the harder it is to breath or even do things that used to be effortless (like playing catch with your kids or your doggie). With difficulty in breathing, activity decreases and thus begins the difficult cycle of limited movement and a slower metabolism that exasperates the weight gain problem. Chris Powell of Reshape the Nation recommends using your own body weight to create resistance and build muscle. For example, a simple way to start moving is to get up from the couch (don’t use your arms to push up from the couch; use your legs and core), sit back down, repeat. Do some simple stretches and go for a daily walk to increase your strength and flexibility. If you’re moderately active, kick it up a notch with yoga or Zumba classes. Start from where you are and always take your personal medical history into account (and get the okay from your doctor) before increasing your activity level. Movement can be anything from walking, hula-hooping, and swimming to aerobics, volleyball or water-skiing. It doesn’t have to be a treadmill in a gym, staring at a wall, if that’s not your thing. You have the freedom to choose a wide range of fun activities to keep you moving.
Freedom of Self-Confidence:
When our outer appearance doesn’t reflect who we are on the inside, many people will find themselves declining invitations, avoiding others and isolating themselves because they’re not comfortable with how they look or how they feel. That’s no way to live. If you find yourself closing yourself off from others, that is a prison of its own…the opposite of freedom. So, grab a friend, sister, co-worker or neighbor to take the health journey with you and hold you accountable. If you don’t feel like there’s anyone you see yourself partnering up with, then please get support from an organization or group. Go to an in-person Weight Watchers meeting, talk to an online community with similar health goals (like SparkPeople.com) or find a walking group through MeetUp.com. You don’t have to wait until you’ve met your goals to enjoy life. Get with like-minded people who will support you, lift you up and remind you how great you are. With each small and large goal met, you’ll notice a spring in your step. You’ll have the freedom of picking out some new cute clothes to fit your new and improved body. You’ll walk into a room with confidence, unconcerned about how you look or who looks your way. You’ll just feel strong, empowered and confident. You’ll fly up that flight of stairs and maybe even inspire someone else to take charge of their health. And, maneuvering the healthy food maze doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t even need to cook, if you’re the type that likes to eat out and keep it simple. Just swing by our Café – we’ve got you covered with a variety of fresh and flavorful options. Ah, sweet freedom.