About a year and a half ago I went to my annual physical with my primary care doctor not expecting to hear anything out of the ordinary. When my doctor walked in with my blood results, she told me my cholesterol was significantly high for someone my age with such an active lifestyle. Not knowing the risks of high cholesterol I decided to google information on it. I was shocked to see a long list of cardiac problems that could result because of this. My doctor told me changes would need to be made to my diet, which was, for the most part, already very healthy. It looked like I would be on a pescatarian/vegan diet for the next year and a half. Basically I needed to avoid eggs, cheese, meat and any foods with high saturated fat. That didn’t seem too difficult on paper, but I was in for much more of a challenge than I expected.
At first this lifestyle was very difficult for me. Growing up, my family always ate healthy foods, but never had I been so strict. I would go out to restaurants with my family and not be able to order my favorite foods. Fried foods and desserts were always so tempting, but I knew they would only set me back. With all of these limitations the only food I could really eat large amounts of was vegetables, which happen to be the one thing I do not particularly enjoy eating. What vegan doesn’t love vegetables!? There were more struggles than just the food. I struggled with the fact that it seemed like no one else was dealing with this problem so in my mind I had no one to sympathize with. It was challenging for me in a way that was totally different than anything I’d ever experienced. However, I was determined to do whatever it took; I was determined to lower my cholesterol through natural ways instead of medication.
One of the biggest takeaways from this whole experience was learning that food is a blessing, and that it should be seen as a source of fuel rather than something to indulge in. Of course food can still be enjoyed, but we should eat to live not the other way around. I experienced true freedom by being able to turn down delicious foods, because I knew it was best for my body; I was not a victim to my desires. I was even exposed to foods that I would have never known about if I hadn’t had such a restricted diet! My love for spices grew when I realized that just because something was healthy didn’t mean it had to be plain! The tofu at chipotle (one of my favorite restaurants) is incredible! Who would’ve thought?
At my last physical a couple weeks ago I found out that my cholesterol had finally gone down! My doctor was very proud of me! Even though it was difficult for a long time, in the end this experience proved to be one that allowed me to grow in discipline and freedom. This past year one of the daughters of St. Paul, Sister Helena, came to talk at A&M. She asked us, “do you think you have a body, or do you think you are a body?”. My first thought was that we have bodies, but then she told us that we are bodies and that at the end of time our souls will be reunited with our glorified bodies! If I am a body, then I have to take care of myself, because it is all that I am as well as a gift from God.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
1 Corinthians 6:19