How to Trigger the Benefits of Healthy Living: My Experience

I am passionate about a healthy lifestyle.   The good news?  I have published two books, and running a bi-monthly magazine, on health and fitness. But most importantly, I have enjoyed the benefits of healthy living – great stamina, youthful look and feel - for over thirty years.  I look much younger than my age, and get propositions from younger men to my son’s horror😁.  Anyway, jokes apart, this blog shares my experience and perception on how to feel and look  good
My indulgence in the wrong foods started during my teenage years.  The cold weather in Europe left me yearning for stodgy foods to keep me warm – the creamier buttery and sweeter the better.  As for exercise? Nah.  ‘It’s freezing cold out there my friend’, was my response to any of my flatmates prods to get off my cozy couch.  Thank God there were loads of baggy sweaters to hide my protruding belly, flabby arms and wobbly thighs.  I was also very conscious of my oily blotchy spotty face. I took an unhealthy desperate action.  I reduced my foods which left me perpetually hungry and weak.  I changed my strategy from under-eating to gulping double portions of food servings.   I ate more than my body needed, did little exercise and of course had lots of unpredictable mood swings.  I felt great one day, bad the next. I was like a roller coaster.

My views on eating and exercise changed with a copy of Healthy Living magazine I bought from Holland and Barrett store in Oxford.  I took it back to my room, read it from cover to cover, and …suddenly could not believe all the things I had been doing that I shouldn’t do, or, do less of:
  • Eating to kill boredom.
  • Comfort eating to ease emotional stress.
  • Eating larger portions than normal because I left food until desperately hungry.
  • Indiscriminate eating, that is my eyes demanding not my stomach.
  • Vegetables and fruits were hardly part of my diet.
  • No idea of the nutritional or calorific content of food eaten.
  • Preference for fried foods.
  • Frequent snacking on pastries, cakes, chocolates and sweets.
  • Hardly drinking water.
  • Shunning exercise.
A week later, I got myself a book on food facts, a calorie guide on popular foods, a pair of jogging pants, a pair of trainers, a body weight scale, combined with a new resolve and determination to stop visiting the doctor every week for laxatives.  I joined an aerobics class, ‘went vegetarian’ for a long time, joined the women’s rowing team in my college, and bought a video workout tape.  I became very critical and conscious of anything that went into my mouth.  I would walk to St. Antony’s college and back, go running, play tennis, and just kept myself physically active.

 I saw instant result.  My shape improved (better muscle tone), my hair grew faster and healthier, and my skin much clearer.  There was no more frequent constipation, water retention, painful menstrual periods or the constant tiredness that became the norm.  Instead, I had more energy.  I looked better and felt more confident, particularly when my friends complimented my new look.   

What was my secret? I dumped all the unhealthy habits. I am glad I did. 

That was more than three decades ago. Each passing year, I feel and look better.   I am not scared of ageing or looking at myself in the mirror first thing in the morning when my face is shiny and puffy from sleepy.  I am not worried about the wrinkles and grey hair.  For me this is reality.  It is more important that I feel, look good, and aging healthily.

I have also disciplined myself over the years to eat the right food, whether in my country, Nigeria, or outside.  If overseas on business or a vacation and need to stay in a hotel, I choose one that has fitness facilities within or nearby.  If staying with family, on the other hand, I join a close- by fitness club for the duration of my stay.  I also fit in an occasional jog in the park or a walk to the shops.  Most importantly, when hunger strikes, I choose healthy meals and take advantage of the different varieties of fruits, vegetables and wholemeal foods on offer.  I take a multi-vitamin supplement once a day, plus some other specific vitamins according to my needs.  I try to drink eight glasses of water a day to clear toxins and hydrate my skin.   

I try to sleep the recommended eight hours –most days.  Don’t gasp, please! Sleep is my best medicine for any ailment, no kidding.    A healthy lifestyle is worth all the efforts.  In any case it soon becomes part of who you are.  The good thing is that my friends don’t call me a health freak anymore.  Ha, thank goodness.  They are beginning to buy my gospel of the need to ‘indulge in healthy living’ as a lifestyle, not a fad.

Photo credits: Creative Common


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