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I used to judge the way I look and the way other people look somewhat harshly. Maybe that is part of being a teenager or being female or reading demented fashion magazines… But I no longer look at people and think about whether they are “good looking” or not. The people that I love are gorgeous to me; the people I dislike can be repulsive. But most people are neutral because I don’t know them. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
I work in a health food store and I attend naturopathic school. So, as one might expect, I am surrounded by people who are in better physical shape and healthier looking than the average population. Yet, these people still fall victim to the body image problems that are far too common in society. Within my class alone, it seems like everyone wants to lose weight, even if it is “just 5 pounds”. At work it is even worse – our customers (mostly women) are always looking for that next “magic” weight loss supplement, but most of them are not overweight! Maybe it’s because I am a triple Taurus (Sun, moon, mercury) and have many other planets in earth signs (more on astrology in another blog!), but I just think that most people aren’t patient enough with themselves, particularly when it comes to health.
I have found (after 4+ years of following the BTD) that I have not lost much weight (didn’t need to), but I have gained more muscle (which is why I weigh nearly the same, but look slimmer) and that the distribution of weight on my body has changed dramatically. I used to hate my legs and think my arms were too skinny, but now I am content with how I look. I feel light, strong, and energetic. There are limits to how much you can change your body shape, but I do believe (and I think I am walking proof) that you CAN change it quite a lot. But, it takes years of consistently eating right, exercising well, getting enough sleep, and dealing with stress healthily. In the short-term, your cells are the same cells you made when you were unhealthy. Or they are cells that don’t regenerate at all, so their health depends on your lifetime of health choices.
Red blood cells have a life cycle of 120 days, while bone (on the other end of the spectrum) takes 7 years to regenerate. Other cells (skin, liver, pancreas, muscle, etc) are in between. Some cells regenerate nicely (epidermis, mucus membranes, liver, fibrous connective tissues, bone), some don’t (kidney, skeletal muscle, cardiac tissue, nervous tissue).
Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues and remove carbon dioxide. If you start exercising, you may notice improvement quickly, but imagine the results you might achieve after replacing ALL your red blood cells (120 days). Imagine how long you have to wait to see improvement in muscle function as muscle cells receive oxygen more efficiently and can therefore produce energy more efficiently. Imagine how long you have to wait to see improvement once all the cells of your body receive more oxygen more efficiently and regenerate themselves. And that is just from improved oxygenation. Imagine the changes possible for digestion and immune function once intestinal lining cells are healthier and you can break down and absorb everything you eat or drink better…
I’ve heard that 60% of how you look depends on your diet and that 40% depends on physical activity. Well, we already know that’s not quite right because there are other factors, such as sleep, stress, environmental toxins, etc that affect this. But even so, I think diet is much more important than 60%. We literally ARE what we EAT. Our bodies, all of the cells, are made from the materials that we ingest. For me, the best results did not appear even within the first YEAR of lifestyle change (much less overnight). I truly believe it takes years of consistently embracing a healthy lifestyle (rather than spurts of extreme compliance) to work “miracles”.
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