I have a friend, let’s call him Peter, who recently returned to America after spending 10 years traveling the world, both in the Peace Corp and as an English as a second language teacher. His adventures abroad allowed him to experience the richness of different cultures and meet people of diverse backgrounds, all of which made coming back to America and reintegrating into an American mindset all the more challenging. Once back he found himself overweight, depressed, unemployed, single and with absolutely no prospects for change in any of these areas, which was in turn, destroying his self-esteem. As his confidence waned, so did his motivation, which in turn, had him reaching for the junk food as a way to cope. Feeling low and out of sorts, desperate to get some traction in a positive direction, he took my advice and began juicing. I assured him that if he got clarity in his mind and body, he could get clarity in his life.
Life is difficult. The practical aspects of building a life such as getting a job, finding a mate, gathering the resources to make it on your own, while trying to carve out moments of happiness is challenging indeed. It can take Herculean efforts to not lose hope. Add to that the emotional rollercoaster that comes with eating junk food as a coping skill and you have all the elements necessary to be a candidate for Prozac.
Medicating melancholy and inertia can only go so far. While it may disconnect you from your sadness, it won’t necessarily get you off the couch and into your life. And while antidepressants are absolutely the right call for some people, for Peter they are not. First of all, he is not a depressive person, but rather a person experiencing some anxiety about re-acclimating to a life that is no longer familiar. He also recognizes that his junk-food habit is part of the problem. Suspicious of medications, Peter instead began juicing daily. While he still ate his typical foods, he also added a fresh juice to his diet every day. Whether it was a green drink with kale, cucumber, pear and lime or a carrot and ginger drink, he was religious about it and the results were nothing short of miraculous.
Within a month, peter lost 20 pounds. He also found a job waiting tables as a temporary position, which allowed him to pay his bills until he found a job in his chosen career of teaching. He also began dating someone he really likes and feels happy and empowered to keep going with his juicing practice as a way to help him forge his path. Everything changed. And it changed quickly. And he feels completely certain that the juicing has everything to do with it. As he began feeling better in his body he began feeling more comfortable in his mind, which allowed him to spend quality time in there mapping out his course and planning his future. All of this led to opportunities that he feels he would never have recognized as opportunities if he was still living in the haze that junk food creates.
Food is powerful medicine. It is also a terrible toxin. Taking one single step towards your wellbeing by choosing to engage one health promoting habit is not only good for your body but it is also good for your life. Your life is a reflection of the thoughts in your mind, and your mind resides in your body, getting either nourished or compromised by the foods you give to it. Feed it junk and it will reflect that back to you. Give it life-enhancing vegetables and fruit and it will help you see the possibilities available to you that can only come with clarity of mind.
Peter certainly learned this first hand. Every day he makes his juice and contemplates the road ahead. And all he sees on the path are opportunities waiting for him to be ready to seize them.