Improving My Health

by Kelvin Belfon

improving-diet-exercise-health

Keeping an exercise routine wasn’t something I scheduled into my life back home on my island. Because transportation was limited, we walked to go everywhere: grocery store, school, post office, church and special events. If I was late, I ran. And I was late quite frequently. Then there was the seasonal farming, which was a serious “workout” under the hot tropical sun.

In school things were more formal. Physical education class required demanding exercise drills followed by cricket and soccer games or track. Games after school with the neighbors were a ritual we looked forward to as kids. We were very active and always took advantage of being outdoors.

Our diet wasn’t perfect. The starches we ate fueled our active lifestyle. But they only became a problem as people got older and sedentary. No one talked about being a vegetarian or vegan except the Rasta man, known to abstain from meats, especially pork.

I don’t recall using the word dessert in my vocabulary. If you were hungry after dinner, you went outside and found fruits such as golden apples, skin up or sugar apples. Julie mangoes remain my all-time favorite.

When I moved to Miami, Florida in the 90s, I tried to continue my “healthy lifestyle.” I jogged a little and ate well but it was tough. The fast food I saw advertised was cheaper and seemed to fit my busier schedule. It was also much easier to vegetate.

Though my wife embraced natural habits, I became lazy about fitness. And because we moved around a bit, living in different states, I always had the perfect excuses:

  • “I’m too busy”
  • “I’m too cold”
  • “It’s too expensive to eat healthy”
  • “I’m a married man with kids to focus on raising”

Then during a certain period, some time ago, I came across the hot topic suggesting that the leading causes of death in America are preventable by a healthier diet and regular exercise. Moreover, weight did not always factor in what was considered “healthy.” The fact that one can be unhealthy and appear “good” on the outward scared me. When I began focusing on simplicity last year, improving my health was an obvious decision.

So I make some changes. Juicing, reducing the consumption of animal fat and eliminating most processed foods from my diet were key. Regular exercise helped reduce stress, kept my mind alert and motivated. It provided a time for meditation and kept me from becoming lethargic during a time of unemployment.

On several occasions, I even went jogging in below freezing temperatures. These were some of the most refreshing times. They gave me an excitement about my ability to face the tough times and anticipate success.

But getting outdoors wasn’t only for me. I enjoyed all kinds of activities at the park with my wife and kids. Everyone benefits from an active lifestyle and a healthier eating habit.

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10 thoughts on “Improving My Health

  1. Gillian Claudia Johnson-Baptiste says:

    Well said Kelvin. You reminded me of my own childhood experiences when we didn’t need to do any structured exercise. I walked three miles to school everyday, down-hill, and another three miles back up. I started working at the same primary school I attended as a child and the great exercise continued. I had no problems with high cholesterol then, now, I drive to work and things are different. And I complained about the Long walk during those days, now I long for them.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      For me the purpose have changed. Sometimes I use the walk to spend time with my wife, mediate or just enjoy the beautiful creation. So it’s not really a boring or “exercise.” Instead of 3 miles maybe go for 1 or less and make it fun!!

  2. Barbra says:

    A good reminder since we don’t live in the Islands, we need to take control of a healthy approach to life!! 🙂 Good point about the challenge of taking on tasks giving us confidence to do that in all areas of our lives!

  3. Terri says:

    Oh, Kelvin, sooo sooo soo true. It’s so sad that in today’s society, it’s cheaper to eat fast food or mass produced food than it is to eat healthy produce. Lots of documentaries have shown this (I’m sure you’ve seen the ones like Food, Inc., Forks over Knives, etc.) I think that unfortunately a lot of people today are what they might call “skinny fat” in that they might look good on the outside, but inside, that ticker of theirs is just laboring along like you wouldn’t believe. I think that if you schedule the exercise into your day just like you would with anything else, it will become routine. And if you do have to take some time off (like I have recently) then you find you miss it and can’t wait to get back to it, especially with renewed fervor.

    Especially with your recent news on facebook, it’s great you are watching out for your health. You’ve got a lot of little ones depending on you to be around for a good, long time.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Terri you are right about the need to schedule time to exercise into our day like we do other things. And yes, I have a family who depends on me. So doing my part to be healthy is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.

  4. Ron Miaskiewicz says:

    Well, you’ve probably heard the stories about walking to school on railroad tracks and snow, over your knees. Back in the 60’s, we walked everywhere in all conditions. When I got home, it was time to gather rock, weighing several pounds, and take them up to the hill, we live on. The rock was used to build retaining walls which was what my father was building.
    While in high school, my best friend and I hauled lobster traps! We had 300 traps and hauled 150 a day (this was a spring and summer job).
    I regret none of the above as it established, a work effort, that I have continued all my life and was great exercise! It has also helped in my struggle with Parkinson’s, neuropathy and depression. I am truly blessed with the friends and family that have helped me to be who I am!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Ron this is a cool story. The work ethic you describe is something our society lacks today. Sounds like a real workout as well. Thanks you for sharing this historical account!!

  5. Kellyann says:

    Eating clean and exercising is my way of improving my health since last October. I had several excuses as well, but I said mind over matter and I am in control and I can do it until last month when I hit a plateau which I am still trying to get over. I do a green smoothie all fruits green apple, pear, banana and veges Kale, lettuce, cucumber, parsley, celery, spinach, lemon juice , flax seeds,blended together with a cup of water super healthy…use honey instead of sugar, reduce salt, no process foods, quinoa and fish or Salmon more steam foods over fry…use almond/ coconut milk…
    30 min exercise…

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Way to go! All the super food like kale, fruits, ext. Nice! Also staying away from all the processed food is the right decision. Congrats Kellyann!

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