Updated: Feb 27, 2021
Last August 25-27, 2019, I attended the Third Convention of the Philippine College of Lifestyle Medicine (PCLM) at Cebu Parklane International Hotel in Cebu City. Prior to the main event, I also registered as an attendee of the pre-convention seminar on Culinary Medicine. I also took part in the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) Facilitator’s Training last August 27, 2019 in the same venue. In case you’re wondering why I attended all those talks, I wanted a good foundation to jumpstart my real journey as an advocate of lifestyle medicine (LM) and be a certified International Board of Lifestyle Medicine (IBLM) physician in the future.
As in other endeavors or goals, like being healthy, everything begins with baby steps. Like a child still learning how to walk, you must have the courage to take that first step. At first, you have to hang on to something as you fully stand. Then, you walk holding on to the hand of your mother. You may wobble initially, but eventually you have to let go so you can explore the world on your own.
You begin by knowing where you are right now and where you want to go. What is your goal? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to lower your cholesterol or blood sugar? Be clear in your thoughts. Crystallize that by writing it down and having a concrete plan.
As you lay out your plan, you have to trust the process. Your first step may be drastic like completely eliminating animal protein in your diet and replacing it with heathy protein like legumes. It may also entail denying your body’s craving for sweets that you may feel like you are having withdrawal symptoms. You may even resort to calling a friend to help you avoid temptation especially when you are passing through the grocery aisle of your favorite junk food. Make sure that you seek guidance from a certified health professional to assist you or coach you in your journey who may request for initial work ups.
The transition may not be easy. Your palate has to get used to the new taste of food. However, make sure that you consult your attending physician and inform him that you are trying a new diet that is evidenced-based and backed up by science. It is very important that you also update your doctor because he may need to adjust your medications if you are taking any maintenance drugs for your diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease depending on your anthropometric measurements like your weight, height, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, vital signs and outcome of your laboratory parameters like your fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Don’t despair. Have faith that you will overcome the hardships and embrace a healthy lifestyle. It may take some time for the effects to be seen but just enjoy the journey and learn from it.
Once you have decided to adopt a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet, it is time to prepare them yourself. You are now empowered to be your own cook at home. You may also grow your own food to eliminate the risk of eating plants sprayed with pesticides or genetically modified (GMO) food. You even learn how to read the labels and scan for the ingredients that may play havoc to your system and hence avoid them. When you shop in the grocery store or supermarket, you go directly to the produce section and buy organic fruits and vegetables if those grown via biodynamic farming are not available.
Make a meal plan for the week. Start with a simple breakfast that you can prepare the night before so that you don’t need to hurry the next morning. You just add the fruits on top.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is like running a marathon. You prepare your body to the changes that will be manifested later on. Slowly you are building momentum so that by the time you are ready for the race, you will run a sprint that will win the prize of a healthy body, mind, soul and spirit. No matter how many times you fall and revert to your old habits, like eating that melt in your mouth chocolate, rise up and start again the next day. Persevere to the very end until you have accomplished your goal.
You fully embrace a healthy lifestyle when you eat WFPB diet, exercise regularly, expose yourself to nature, enhance your positive thoughts and emotions, energize yourself with enough sleep and prayers to the ONE above. You may even convince your family to do the same when they see the benefits in you.
Your journey to a healthy lifestyle begins when you S.T.E.P. (Start, Trust, Empower and Persevere).
What do you think about my story?