When people tell you stories, do you listen? I’m not just talking about passively listening, like the kind that insinuates you are somewhat “listening” and also preoccupied with some other data stream- but more so the kind where you are actually actively anticipating what comes next…?
I hope that this story elicits what was just described above. My intention here is to build a foundation of knowledge and awareness that you, the reader, can take with you on your journey through your life. When I was a kid, I was super chubby. I ate pretty much whatever I wanted, and I am almost certain that my parents secretly loved it because it gave them the excuse to eat what I wanted to eat too. There was always a soft voice in the back corner of my shoulder telling me, you look different than everyone else, too bad you can’t wear what everyone else was wearing, etc- because, you know, in middle school and high school, what you wear is everything and can be the biggest statement of your life. It was not until 6th grade that, and I will not forget her name- Mrs. Borek- came into my life and shook it permanently. This woman had to have been in her late 50’s, probably chain smoked when she was younger and had recently quit, or not, and was malnourished or had some form a thyroid condition judging by the discoloration of her skin following her neck down to her feet.
I kid you not when I say: this women would not likely be your first candidate to teach a health class and educate 6th graders on the ‘new’ food pyramid and about being hygienic. She had a scratch in her voice, and often times would try to get her point across by either raising her voice to seem more serious, or attempt to relate to us, the crowd of kids who were just having their first rounds of pimple outbreaks and pubic hair growth, through old-age anecdotal phrases. That being said, there was some algorithm in her approach that jibed well with me, and forever changed my life. One day after school, I went home, a 12 year old, and began throwing the Oreos, the Cheez-Its, and the Cinnamon Toast Crunch out…you see where I’m going with this. My parents were taken aback, and immediately lashed out, defending the food saying over and over “We paid for this, please don’t throw it out”. I defensively cried out- “It isn’t good for us!”
This was the beginning of my life. I was coaching my parents, as a 12 year old, through healthy dietary choices. I suppose Mrs. Borek should be proud that atleast one of her students was spreading the O.G word, but this couldn’t have come as more of a surprise for my parents considering I never once openly conversed about health and wellness. A short blip for the background- my parents were not healthy, and were by choice or not, unaware of the implications of their health status. My father, obese, diagnosed with DT2 (type ll diabetes) sleep apnea, congestive heart failure, and my mother, chronically stressed and obese, did not understand their health, and didn’t want to! I cannot blame them at all. But when I was 12 I was ignited with a sudden flame-some would call it passion, some would call it anger- that wanted to change their health for the better by means of the way we can control-diet (as in daily nutrition) and exercise.
In 7th grade I joined intramural cross country. Still eating the way I had prior to my latest discovery on the food pyramid, I would find myself getting nauseous during runs, wanting to throw up and feeling like I couldn’t even make it another 1/4 mile (we would only run up to 2 miles a day). However, I noticed as I made small tweaks in the diet, and as I continued to run, a positive feedback cycle occurred. I would consume healthier foods than I was previously, I would run faster, better, harder, and stronger (yes, the reference to the Kanye song is there- sing it in your head now) and I would get such a hard dopamine rush to the head about how great it made me feel and how much more elevated I felt emotionally and physically.
This feeling is what I live for- this is living for me- and the physical nature of it as it manifested itself is what I wanted to plant into my parents’ heads and hopefully all of yours as well-
On my journey, I have attempted to become more knowledgeable than ever in the field of psychology, neurology, fitness, wellness, and overall health. In doing so, I majored in neuroscience and public health, completed a thesis in traumatic brain injury and the premature implications it has on athletes later in life, began a consulting business focused on efficiently planning and executing neurosurgery specializing in the utilization of new OR technology, bothered my parents on a daily basis about their health, and fell in love. The story of my parents continued down a more positive track, and eventually, my father, adhering to his physician’s advice (not just mine), was able to stop administration of daily insulin injections. His pancreas began making its own insulin again, and his body began appropriately responding to it!
This entire process, now looking back at the age of 27, has made me who I am and want to be, everyday. This blog is not to influence, its to broach topics in order to spread awareness in the wake of health and wellness. If food is medicine, and I am to study medicine, what is even the point in going to medical school? Great question- I will answer that when I actually have some breadth of professional medical advice to share. That is to say- this blog is by no means me pushing medical advice on you, the people, without anything to warrant it. I am not a medical professional, and whatever is shared on this blog, just know, is being reiterated and paraphrased back to you after reading thousands of pages of research that was also paraphrased to me within the forms of medical textbooks, peer-reviewed scientific articles, medical literature, etc. So please, take your time, digest and review, assess, analyze, do whatever you would like to do with this information but understand this one thing- we are living a life for a purpose we choose to define, and we cannot have any of it if we do not honor the one mechanical ‘thing’, otherwise known as our body, that allows us to make those decisions.
Trust in thy food. Food is thy medicine. ‘Till death do us part-