A little over a month ago I was at a conference speaking and going through my normal routine. No eating before I speak, isolating myself, changing what I was going to say and in awe of how far I’ve come as a professional. After I was done speaking I ran into a good friend mine, and while we were talking realized that I hadn’t taken care of my last speaking ritual; drinking a Coke or Mountain Dew.
My friend Meshelle; who along with her husband and family are extremely health conscience people. As I was fiending for a soda, she kept telling me that I didn’t need a soda, that I should have a water or juice. Not trying to hear her I got distracted by talking to someone else and while I was engaged in that conversation, she came back and handed me an orange juice. (btw I love orange juice.) I said thank you and she took it up another notch. She went on to tell me how I should be taking better care of myself and that sodas aren’t good for me. I listened knowing in my head that as soon as I had the chance to get my hands on a dew that conversation would be a distance memory.
Then she said this; “I/we need for you to show up in the world.” That stuck. I haven’t spoken to her since, so she doesn’t know this story (yet).
Later on in the hotel room. I thought about what she said and how I must have sounded obsessing over a soda. When I got home the next day, I went into our refrigerator and realized that other than my son’s milk there was nothing healthy about the drinks we had and her words hit me again. I thought about the weight I was gaining and the fact that I had been totally disgusted by the size of my gut. A fact that my son, often reminds me. It was at that moment I knew something needed to change.
So the next day March 1st I was thinking about all the things I could do; join a gym, go on a diet, exercise more, eat smaller portions, etc. None of those things struck a cord and then I prayed. In that prayer, I ask the Lord for longevity in my life. I asked for the courage to change my health habits because my family needed me to “show up in the world”. I asked him to release me from whatever addiction I may have to sugar and caffeine. He answered by encouraging me to challenge myself to do something I didn’t think I could do. I thought about fasting for a week; but I had done that before. Then I thought to myself, it wasn’t that fasting doesn’t work, its that I never made a real deep and meaning commitment to to give up something was hard or a real sacrifice.
So I decided to change what started this; my drinking habits. 30 days of drinking nothing but water. No more Mountain Dew, Coke/Pepsi, Sweet Tee, Lemonade, Pineapple soda, Orange Juice; nothing. Huh….Could I really do it? I didn’t think so, but I said what the hay; let’s go for it. Now let me be clear, what I did not change was my eating habit. One step at a time, but a strange thing happened as a result of changing my drinking habit.
Well over the last 30 days that’s what I did, drink nothing but water. The first week, I didn’t; think I was gonna make it because even though I wanted to change my habits, my household weren’t changing their habits. So at times it was hard to drink water watching everyone else drinking whatever that wanted. I also noticed that much of what I drank had to do with what I was eating. For instance; Coke goes with McDonalds, sweet tea goes with soul food, lemonade goes with a burger, Mountain Dew goes with everything and why order a water when going out to eat (seemed like a waste of going out).
As a result of that revelation, I realized that because I wasn’t drinking soda, I stopped going to fast food restaurants or when I did I got something healthy like a salad. I also got over my habit of having to order a coke or pepsi just because the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink. I realized that a good piece of chicken or steak tasted just a good with a glass of water. The biggest change in habit was the amount of snacks I would eat in the middle of the day or late at night. I didn’t eliminate them, but cut them significantly. I became much more conscience about what I was consuming. But this time did something about it; not eat it.
So what was my biggest lesson. Well, the fact that on March 1st, I was 239 pounds; on April 1st I was 228 pounds. I lost 11 pounds in 30 days. That gut that I so much despise is disappearing and I didn’t have to starve myself to do it. In addition to that, don’t be fooled by the picture; I also did not do any exercise in the last 30 days. That is my next challenge to now add exercise to my routine in the hopes of losing 10 more pounds in the next 30 days.
What I became more aware of in the last 30 days is that I have bad and inherited habits just by virtue of being a man. That my health has always been on the lower rungs of my priority list. However for the sake of my family and more importantly myself, if I want to continue to do good, I must be well. Sacrifice is neccesary. Not showing up in the world can never be an option.
Because I don’t want to get too wordy here and lose you..I’ll end here. Thank you Meshelle for reminding me how important I am to the world and everything in it. As Men’s Health Month approaches in June, you will be hearing more from me about health and my journey because I have more to tell you.