I started on my journey to wellness, together with my husband and high-school sweetheart Sandro, over ten years ago and we have not looked back since. It started with us opening our eyes to the cruel reality of the food on the shelves today and the harm some products can have on your physical, as well as mental well-being. We believed we were eating healthy by limiting fast food, buying “reduced fat”, “low carb” foods and replacing white bread with whole wheat bread. We were very diligent in reading the visible nutritional tables on the product and making a decision as to whether or not that item was healthy by focusing on the calorie count, carbohydrates and fat content. Sometimes, just looking at the front of the box or bag and reading the “LOW FAT”, “ALL NATURAL” or “NON-GMO” in bold font was enough to satisfy us that we were making the right choice – the healthy choice. Does this sound familiar to you? Marketing and packaging of products can do such a good job of distracting us from what is truly important!
On our journey to wellness, we shifted our focus from the nutritional tables and persuasive packaging – to focusing on the list of ingredients. Not only in the food, we were consuming but also in the beauty and household products, we were buying. Most of the ingredients in the everyday products that line the local grocery store shelves are ones the average person cannot even pronounce. Ingredients that we skip over and don’t give a second thought to because after all, if an ingredient was harmful or not beneficial for us, why would it be there in the first place? It can’t be that bad, right?
We started being proactive and researching the unpronounceable ingredients that were in our favorite foods, beauty and household products to gain an understanding of what they were and the potential effect they may (or may not) have on our body. As a result, we abandoned tons of products we had been accustomed to and started looking for healthier, natural alternatives. After all this is what we were ingesting, putting onto our body or using in our home. We were spending our hard earned money on these products and exposing our kids to them.
“If you want things in your life to change, you have to change the things in your life”.
This is a powerful statement that means a lot to my husband and I. We can’t expect to do the same thing day in and day out and get a different outcome. We knew that we could be doing better for ourselves and our family and if we wanted to live a healthier lifestyle, we would have to make some changes.
You may be someone who makes a conscious effort to buy “All Natural” and “Organic” products and you may even be able to pronounce all of the ingredients on the products you buy. Although I would challenge you to look twice at the list of ingredients and you may find items such as colour, natural flavors and synthetic vitamins. You may even be surprised at how long the list of ingredient is as some products are more processed than they need to be and contain many ingredients that simply do not need to be there. In my opinion, although all natural and organic products may be better alternatives than some other items on the shelf, I would suggest you make a habit of reading the list of ingredients to make sure you are comfortable with the choice you are making. You may want to consider if there is a better alternative or if the product is something you can simply do without.
It was very overwhelming for my husband and I to give up many of the products and habits we were accustomed to and even harder to explain our choices to our family and friends. We had to unlearn the misconceptions about what we thought was healthy. Undoing years of bad habits and try to convince people we weren’t crazy in the process. We felt isolated at times as we began a different path than those around us. But after a few weeks it became easier. I started to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from sticking to it and being an individual – not a follower, which is something that we try to instill in our children everyday.
As it relates to staying active and keeping in shape, well we had always made time to workout regularly. It was and still is a priority in our lives and we believe that it is important for our physical and mental well-being (one less thing we needed to change in our lives).
Our busy schedules can often lead to damaging habits and sometimes we just need a nudge in the right direction. I know first-hand how busy life can get but we can’t afford to use that as our excuse not to live a healthier life. I have a challenging and demanding career as a Chartered Professional Accountant. A fulltime career that I juggle in addition to my role as a wife and the proud mother to four amazing kids; Valentina (age 11), Alessio (age 9), Santino (age 7) and Massimo (age 5). It is important that we are raising our children to understand the difference between whole foods and processed foods. The difference between natural and artificial. That they learn it is ok not to follow the crowd and be an individual. With the rising rates of obesity and disease, it is important that we teach our kids the importance of living a healthy lifestyle so they can be armed with the tools and knowledge they need to make informed decisions when the time is right.
The path of wellness is a journey. It is not always easy and the path is not always straight. It can be challenging to maintain the discipline to live a healthy lifestyle and stand out from others around you who may not be on the same path as you. Nevertheless, like anything else in life, with a bit of practice, living a healthier lifestyle will become second nature and there will be no turning back – trust me.
Thank you for being here to share the journey with me. I am always learning and growing and strive to be a better version of myself each day.