Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead: Facing The Facts About My Unhealthy Lifestyle

By Crista Tappan - May 05, 2012

Two years ago, while on traveling out of the country for the first time (Peru), I got terribly sick. Not in the, "I drank the water, now I have the shits for days" sort of sick. It was the, "I can't stand up straight, and I feel like I'm dying from the inside out" sort of sick. The saddest part of the whole situation was it was pretty much a food-induced sickness. I had eaten myself into a foggy, lethargic sandpit before I had left-- I had been told that I'd be eating an entirely vegetarian diet the majority of the time I would be in Peru. So....I did what any normal person would do. I ate all my favorite foods for the week before my trip. At the time, I was pretty much in the worst shape of my life, in the worst health condition, and in a third world country. It didn't get much worse than that.

This picture is of my dear friend Mikey and I. Both of us were completely unprepared for the insane amount of hiking we were doing every day. This photo was taken probably ten minutes into a relatively easy hike. I wanted to sit down every five seconds. 

How had I allowed myself to get to that point? I ran track, swam, and played water polo in high school. I was athletic all my life. Then it kind of just hit me all at once (it's silly to think of how obvious it was). My diet was completely destroying my body. The "I can eat whatever I want!" rule, although it may have not been affecting my waist line, it was significantly impacting my health.

Let's talk burgers. During my undergrad, for five entire years, I had to drive past In & Out Burger THREE TIMES on my way to school. Three separate locations, all conveniently right off the exit. So, that's a total of six moments that I had to exercise self-control while usually starving. I mean, if we are being honest, In & Out is as close to a perfect meal as possible. It NEVER disappoints. You can't really make that claim with many food establishment meals under five dollars. And being a college student, it was more in my price range than going into Whole Foods and spending my entire months food budget on some fancy kale chips and expensive rare fruits. So for five years, I averaged a burger almost every day. EVERY DAY.

Unlike some lucky individuals, I am not the kind of person who can quit something cold turkey. The second the words "I'm going to stop...." come out of my mouth, I immediately start craving whatever I'd just swore up and down I was done with. So instead of punishing myself like that, I chose a lesser evil..."I'm cutting back." Or, "changing my habits".  I now eat a burger every two weeks, and try to really enjoy every bite. In the photo above, I got a little creative, and added avocado for the first time to my burger. BEST IDEA EVER. I try to save my burgers now like little rewards after a week of running. 

In desperation, I remember asking my cousin how she always stayed so thin and healthy. She was running fantastic times for her races, always had tons of energy, and I pretty much wanted to bottle her secret and sell it for millions. This documentary, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, chronicles the journey of Joe, a middle-aged overweight dude who decided to quit the sick cycle of unhealthy food and prescription pills all through the use of a JUICER. I'm not much for fad diets by any means, but after watching his transformation, I was pretty impressed. Equally impressive were the several other people followed in the documentary who also underwent major changes in their physique, health and lifestyles. The basic message that I got from watching it was a sudden feeling of horror-- because at the time, I really couldn't remember the last time I had greens. Fruit, sure. Vegetables...sometimes. But I realized the most important foods my body needed were completely absent from my diet. It almost shocked me that my body was even able to turn my burgers, sodas and candy into usable sources of energy. If people had any idea how much energy is in leafy greens like spinach, they would be eating salads for breakfast instead of waffles! (I eat a huge salad for breakfast every morning-- best habit I've ever had). 

This photo was taken at the end of Mile 8 a couple weeks ago. Notice the difference in my disposition compared to the first photo from Peru? ;-)

It has been two years since I watched the documentary about the healing powers of food, three years since I went to Peru, and since then, I have made drastic changes to my eating habits and exercise patterns. Gone are the days where I would binge on food and not care, or worse, try to tell myself that I'd "run it off" the next day. Well, let me give you a piece of advice: trying to run the next morning after stuffing myself with greasy Chinese food is NOT a good idea. To this day, I find that eating bad foods the night before a run drastically reduces my endurance, makes my body hurt, and generally....I just can't do it. 

So, what I'm trying to say is, learn from your mistakes. Listen to your body after you eat. Moderate the things you love (that you know aren't that good for you) and gradually add in things that are good for you. Sooner or later you will start to love the things that are good for you, and appreciate the other things less often :) Just some ideas. 

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  1. "Do one thing every day that scares you" -- Eleanor Roosevelt ... Word to live by! Challenging yourself is exciting and rewarding. You are a living inspiration, my dear!

    1. Wouldn't be where I am today without my rockstar cuz :)

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