Healthy Lessons from Life
[Editor’s note: This is a guest story from Pam Williams. Hope you had a great Easter weekend. I think this is a great story for spring! Let’s get out walking and eating fresh food! PS the photo this week is by Pam, too!]
My Mom is the reason why I am aware of healthy eating and healthy living. If it was left to me, I would have made colorful meals with gummy bears, peppermint sticks and lollipops. My Mom would take the candy away and remind me how important it was to get my colors from fruits and vegetables rather than candy. I complied but back then, I thought candy was a better choice.
She also believed that walking every day was good. Never mind that my brothers and I had train passes and could ride the train for free. She would help strap our backpacks to our backs and for five long miles we would walk the distance to our small school. I believe this is how I learned to count into the thousands. Everywhere, the sidewalk had cracks and I knew the number of each one. Number 4376 resembled a wiggly worm and was at the corner of Halsey and Broadway. I knew I had at least 5,624 more steps to go. This is how I learned to appreciate walking.
As a young adult I loosely kept to the rules taught by my Mom. Although, candy didn’t appeal as much to me as when I was a kid; cheese cake and chocolate cookies brightened my world. Don’t worry, though. I still ate zucchini and collard greens to stay alive.
The impact of these habits didn’t become clear to me until my older brother had his first heart attack. Even though he knew we were supposed to keep physically active, and eat green, yellow and red vegetables, he just stopped. Fried chicken and potato salad filled his plate but he didn’t know that the pressure increased in his heart and veins. Mix in other factors such as stress, and the perfect disease storm made its way into his life. He didn’t know that his heart was not as efficient as it once was. The exchange of fresh oxygen for waste material went sour. A heart attack. In my mind, this wasn’t supposed to happen. My parents were as healthy as oxen. No heart attacks should have ever enter our household. But I was so wrong.
Although I was heartbroken, the reality before me became clearer. I understood a little better the whys of healthy eating and physical activity. I encouraged my brother to do what we did as kids. Let’s eat right and keep moving. Unfortunately, the importance of healthy habits didn’t kick in and by the time my brother had his third heart attack and passed away, I was devastated. My family lost him because of poor lifestyle habits.
I looked back over our lives and started to understand more than I thought I could. Apparently the stuff that made these diseases may have been in our genes. By eating healthy and exercising, I could keep heart attacks, diabetes and cancer from developing in my body, or at least reduce the risk.
It took awhile for me to finally understand that God made our bodies and he made fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods to give us exactly what we need for the best health possible. It’s almost like a hand in a glove. I need fiber, vitamins and minerals to live and when I eat what God made, I get what I need to live healthy. I also get all the colors that help fight these diseases. These and other foods give me energy and when I walk or exercise, I use the energy to keep my muscles in good working order and keep my blood vessels as clean as possible.
Today, I am still saddened by the loss of my brother but I am also overwhelmed by the idea that when God spoke fruits and vegetables into existence, it would have what I needed to live. When I pray before a meal, I can imagine creation and get a little insight into what it means when God saw that vegetation, plants and fruit trees were good. (See Genesis 1:12) They are really good for life. I thank Him for my Mom, her God-given wisdom to exercise and for making plants to help me live.