As a Chef, one would think that daily diet and health are easy to be great at. On the contrary, it’s actually not that easy to manage…at all.
You’re working in a professional kitchen. The most indulgent foods are at your disposal daily. (Note: You shouldn’t be eating the menu items…line cooks, I’m looking at you ?). You’re working either very long and/or very late hours. During service, you’re snacking…taking what you can get…the ends of duck, dry aged steak, chocolate truffles stolen from pastry…etc. If that isn’t enough, once you’ve finished your shift, you go out and eat more food (that’s 10 outta 10 times not healthy) and then you drink copious amounts of liquor.
That lifestyle in my 20’s and early 30’s led to hypertension (high blood pressure) and Type 2 diabetes in my mid-late 30’s. I was diagnosed in 2011.
It sucked…admittedly. I was told I’d be on medication for both for the rest of my life. Part of me wanted to fight that notion, the other part just kind of accepted it as factual.
The first year I took it super seriously and was on a “sugar free” diet etc. After I got tired of all the “sugar free” this and that wreaking havoc on my digestive system (???), I decided real sugar couldn’t be that bad…right? So I slowly crept the bad stuff back into my diet. McDonald’s, Bodega Sandwiches, maybe a real Coke every now and then etc. These patterns had my blood sugar in a bad place from 2013….until literally last week.
March 2018 I made a decision. I made the decision to live strong and healthy! Because you see in January 2018, my doctor made a decision…to put me on insulin. Taking insulin was my absolute worse fear! To top it off, only 2 days after I was made to take insulin shots daily, I left the country for 5 weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa. In Johannesburg, my health spiraled downward.
Once I was back home in NYC, I knew I had to go “hard in the paint” and make some drastic changes.
So I started working out….everyday. YouTube videos. Walking anywhere from 2-6 miles at a time. Workouts that I’d done previously with trainers. Squats. Sit ups. Push ups. Making up shit. You name it, I did it. I cut out fast food. But not without 2 trips to Popeyes first (haven’t been since). I grocery shop weekly. Fruits, green vegetables, lean proteins and healthy snacks. I got introduced to a challenging form of yoga, Ashtanga, which I now practice 5-6 days a week (on top of my other workouts). I meditate everyday for at least 30 minutes.
It’s not easy. I couldn’t even make it through 2 sun salutations when I first started (yoga). My mind wonders most days when I meditate. At least 3-4 days a week my body is sore.
I’m losing weight. My muscles are toning. My attitude and demeanor are calm, joyful, understanding, focused and patient. My blood sugar is the lowest it’s been (consistently) in 7 years.
I’m healing myself….Mind, Body and Soul.
Am I telling you all to do exactly what I’m doing? No, I realize my workout schedule isn’t realistic for most. I’m lucky to have the time currently to make it a habit.
I just wanted to share my personal journey with you all to hopefully inspire someone to kick start a mindful and healthy life path. People have definitely encouraged me in many ways!
Drink some water today. Maybe walk instead of driving. Incorporate fresh, non-processed foods into your diet. Take time out to quiet your mind daily. Be kind to others (and yourself).
Thanks for reading!
-Airis “the Chef” Johnson