COLUMN: Dash(ing) to success- It’s time for a lifestyle change

In Columns, Fitness, Sports

A balanced diet, regular exercise and a body full of endorphins were each part of a lifestyle I had become accustomed to, but one bad year changed everything.

Stress of school and work built up, and then heartbreak set in. My personal relationships dangled by a string, and a long-term relationship with someone who had become my best friend ended. School, work and going out consumed my time. Instantaneously, I lost interest in my fitness routine. No more long hikes, workout sessions or runs. It seemed like my world was crashing down around me.

I hated everything—the number on the scale, the fact that my clothes didn’t fit anymore—but more than anything, I hated how I felt. I was constantly irritable. Regardless of how much sleep I had the night before, I felt tired and depressed everyday.

I had adopted a “who cares” attitude, and before I knew it, I barely recognized the person staring back at me in the mirror. I thought things needed to change.

That change starts now.

Popping pills and yo-yo dieting isn’t something I’ve ever been interested in. I want to do this the healthy way, but where to begin? I started reading up on meal plans and exercise regimes trying to find the right one for me. I discovered the Dash Diet.

Browsing Barnes & Noble, I found a book by Marla Heller, MS, RD, The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution. Anxious to begin my journey, I bought it and dove right in.

Counting calories isn’t a part of this plan. This is a lifestyle change, not a diet. It’s just the thing I need to get me where I want to be. The Dash Diet is best known to lower blood pressure, but what caught my attention was the way in which the diet relied mostly on vegetables and incorporated lean protein. Promises of staying full, craving less junk food and feelings cleaner and lighter jumped from the pages. This is exactly what I want. This plan consists of three meals with snacks in between. The guidelines are simple, stick with the plan, don’t skip any meals or snacks and drink plenty of water. According to Heller, this plan prevents blood sugar from plummeting, improves metabolism, lowers body fat, enhances strength and cardio fitness and improves health.

Meals and snacks consist of a multitude of bright fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and whole grains. With a vast variety of menu options, I don’t forecast a boring meal in my future.

The diet will start out with a two week restart, promising to boost weight loss. No fruit, no bread and no sugar for the first week. It won’t end with just changing my diet. To make this happen, to reach my goal, I need to be active. For the first two weeks, in accordance with Heller’s advice, I will be incorporating no more than thirty minutes of light to moderate exercise.

This journey isn’t going to be easy, but this is something I need to do for myself. Breaking down the bad habits and rebuilding a healthier lifestyle will finally make my goals possible.

I invite you to join me as I document my journey towards a healthier lifestyle in this column.

Let’s do this.

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