by Kelvin Belfon
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.