For Father's Day, This Goes Out To The Dads We Lost
Some people don't understand my healthy lifestyle or personal choices in creating a well balanced mind, body, and soul. Investing time, money, and effort into preparing nutritious meals, coming up with healthier and creative recipes, researching healthy ingredients, and participating in regular exercise is not everyone's number one priority. Today, on a very significant day to myself and many, I want to give some background to why I do the things I do. Why health and wellness is so essential to my every day life and more importantly why I encourage the hell out of it.
Today is Father's Day. As I watch families walk down the street smiling, young children on their Dad's shoulders or holding their hands, and friends celebrating their Dads on this special occasion, my only wish is that I could go back in time to have one more hug, one more kiss, one more dance on your feet in the kitchen.
I lost my father 12 years ago to a heart attack on my sixteenth birthday. Numb, empty, paralyzed, it took years to feel certain feelings again. It is so difficult to accept death when it is unfamiliar. It is even more difficult to accept death when you don't get a chance to say goodbye. On the outside my strength and perseverance dominated difficult conversations, my ability to go back to school/sports and excel, and to continue living the most "normal" teenage life possibly in the wake of a personal tragedy. On the inside I felt broken, damaged, and lonely. Friends and family members were extremely sympathetic, but that empathy that was so desperately needed was inexistent as no one had similar experiences.. yet, unfortunately. You never know how strong you are until it's the only choice you have.
Until you lose a loved one you will not understand the true meaning of the word pain. "The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not "get over" the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to."
So let's talk about prevention and why I have dedicated my life to health, wellness, and balance. Obesity doesn't happen overnight. It develops gradually over time, as a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Our bodies are not designed to hold overwhelming amounts of fat. Moreover our bodies are not designed for a sedentary lifestyle. We need to move. Overeating, lack of physical activity, and even medical reasons contribute to weight gain, which leads to obesity, a global epidemic in both children and adults. The health of the world population is dramatically worsening and people are suffering from preventable disease. The standard American diet is spreading rapidly throughout the world and simultaneously bringing the chronic disease it causes along with it such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world and the leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 375,000 Americans per year. Heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the U.S. Someone in the U.S. dies from heart disease about once every 90 seconds.
My father was not always an obese smoker with sleep apnea. In fact, he was an athlete, an amateur baseball player and semi-pro bowler who had accomplished a perfect 300 game. Once he sold his business, he became a traveling salesman who stopped at the drive-thru for a good amount of meals for convenience. He struggled with diet and exercise for years and he was a workaholic, putting an incredible amount of pressure and stress on himself to achieve perfection. He did extremely well, always in the top 3 for sales and competitions with his colleagues. Everyone knew how dedicated he was and that his work ethic was unmatched. He had integrity. He was humble. He was kind. He was generous. He was loving. More importantly he loved his three children an inconceivable amount. I can only imagine that if he used that same work ethic and determination towards his health he might still be alive today. I wish I was educated back then in holistic nutrition and wellness as I am now, to help him. I was a naive teenager who thought she was invincible. I didn't understand the long-term effects or consequences of not eating healthy or taking care of yourself.
This is why I won't apologize for being a broken record. I won't apologize for encouraging and inspiring others to nourish our bodies with whole foods, to sweat, and to take part in self-care. We only have one life to live and one body to exist in. Treat your body right. Whatever that means for you as an individual, please do it. If you need help, seek it. The bravest thing you can do is raise your hand for help in a world where you are too scared to ask. I've said it before and I will likely say it again, we're all in this together. Happy Father's Day to all the incredible Dads out there and to the ones we've lost - we love you and we miss you. You are always in our thoughts and hearts.
"We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind's greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear."
Stay Balanced xo,
*Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, Arnett DK, Blaha MJ, Cushman M, de Ferranti S, Després J-P, Fullerton HJ, Howard VJ, Huffman MD, Judd SE, Kissela BM, Lackland DT, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Liu S, Mackey RH, Matchar DB, McGuire DK, Mohler ER 3rd, Moy CS, Muntner P, Mussolino ME, Nasir K, Neumar RW, Nichol G, Palaniappan L, Pandey DK, Reeves MJ, Rodriguez CJ, Sorlie PD, Stein J, Towfighi A, Turan TN, Virani SS, Willey JZ, Woo D, Yeh RW, Turner MB; on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics— 2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published online ahead of print December 17, 2014]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000152.
*Quotes by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross