Clarity and confidence is what allows me to do what I do – share my life with all of you. It is what the energy is made up of, that allows me to grow, to seek new ventures, and to ask for what I believe aligns with the truths that make me, uniquely me.
However, clarity and confidence is not something that comes automatically, freely, nor easily. This is especially true in the realm of social media, “influencing”, or any life that is shared openly with the world. Most times, when one is first beginning or immersing themselves in such a way of life, the energy to share tends to be firstly shaped by the outside approval from an audience.
For me, the “clarity and confidence energy” has been a long time coming. Because I have from the very start, shared all aspects of my life via the Balanced Life Aloha outlets, there were times where certain rude commentary that was beyond ugly and judgmental would temporarily stunt my growth. That is because I am a mother and wife first, so commonly I didn’t have the time to really sit down, focus, and deal with the elephant in the room. At one point, that elephant in the room morphed in to a self-resistance which inhibited me from sharing certain things, like any of my food or recipes that contained animal products or meat, as well as certain products that involved plastics. These were the two biggest “issues” or points of contention along my personal journey towards this “clarity and confidence energy” from which I can now emanate from.
Within the past year, any hesitances that I once had to share my (imperfect) life, have all been truly lifted off of my shoulders. I wish that I could tell you some exact formula or sequence of events that brought me to this point of freedom to share ALL ASPECTS and MY TRUTHS, but it really was a culmination of many different things.
One thing for sure that helped, was coming to terms with that fact that I will never live a life where everyone I come across, will “like” me. Now that doesn’t mean that I believe in just being an utter a-hole because “people won’t like me anyways” – no, that is not what I am alluding to here. What I am saying, is that THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is that YOU LIKE YOURSELF! That is a top priority, because when you love yourself despite downfalls, you fortify a confidence to just be you and not care who ridicules. It is a huge weight released from your entire being.
Just as important, is the fact that YOU DON’T HAVE TO REMAIN THE SAME PERSON INDEFINITELY. You can wake up everyday and choose who you want to be and the things that you want to change going forward. Furthermore, letting go of the world’s idiotic hold on your conscious to be a certain way/look a certain way/accomplish certain things, – that release also brings internal peace. No one should feel shame in the evolution of their system of beliefs or way of life – releasing these holds brings a soul-quenching freedom that I cannot even put in to words.
RE: MY 80/20 LIFESTYLE/
Whatever your lifestyle is, if it brings you wellness, overall good health, inner peace, doesn’t cause you pain, you’ve seen proof in lab results or in other tangible ways. . . THAT should be celebrated. Do not tolerate any attack to your own unique blueprint of life.
So we are clear, “80/20” is not an EXACT definition. It wavers. But for the sake of this article, and documenting in a prosaic way, I use this ratio of 80/20. (Santiago claims it to be more 70/30, but hey – this is my article ;] )
Overall, I describe my personal lifestyle as this 80/20 approach. The 80% is made up of the goal that meals are primarily cooked at home, which include the foods that promote health and healing for my personal circumstances (and what we believe to be best for our family). This 80% aspect also includes spending quality time with my family, quiet intellectual time, as well as writing, working, and exercising. The other 20% consists of “everything else”. That ranges from ordering meals to-go, dining out, getting a coffee or tea, lunches with friends, business meetings, life celebrations, and everything in-between.
The 20% is just as crucial as the 80% is in maintaining a well-balanced life. Personally, it allows me to avoid holding myself to an unhealthy standard of perfection. You see, I have an autoimmune condition, but although I committed years ago to making choices that would allow me to heal and thrive, along the journey I became mindful of the mental aspects and the importance of not allowing it to take complete control over my life. I learned that poor thoughts and mindsets can make autoimmune diseases flare just as quickly as poor food choices can. Therefore, BALANCE is what I strive for, and the only way for me to really live my life.
RE: THE 80%/
- Wholesome, anti-inflammatory when needed, quality ingredients.
- Responsible sources, grass-fed meats, organic as much as possible + NON-GMO.
- Nutrient-dense, color-filled veggies and fruits for all of the antioxidants, fiber, and stuff that science has yet to even discover.
Common goals stem around balancing out HPA-axis dysfunction, blood sugar dysfunction, and overall hormonal health. Of the same importance, is supporting my elimination and detoxification organs to remove toxicants and lower my overall toxic load. GUT HEALING IS EXTREMELY IMPERATIVE!!! Adequate amounts of fluids. Steady physical exercise. Brain exercise. Dedicated family time without distractions. + SLEEP!!!
*Like I said, things change and shift over time to stay in-sync with my evolving body, conditions, and overall status of life and wellness.
RE: THE 20%/
(About) 20% is living and eating for just. pure. joy. This part of my lifestyle stems from basically eating and enjoying whatever I want – yes, seriously.
There were many years where I didn’t allow myself any amount of freedom to ever eat or do whatever I felt like, for the sake of, well, just wanting to! Also, there was a small amount of time while I first started developing this 80/20 balance, in which I didn’t feel like I should share the 20% aspect with my audience.
Then, my mindset transformed. I made the choice to have a GROWTH MINDSET (that evolves), versus a FIXED MINDSET (that things should stay the same and be concrete). As a result, this shifted my beliefs about healing, sharing my life, and social media altogether. The growth mindset set me free to share the indulgent and gluttony portion of my life. I embraced that the act of celebrating isn’t meant to be critiqued, it’s just meant to be ENJOYED! So I decided that I would never allow the fear of being critiqued for an imperfect diet, stop me from enjoying the F^@! out of my life.
Now today, it’s common (if you follow me on social media) to witness me share a meal or celebratory grub that may not be organic, or gluten-free, or resemble ANYTHING of what I used to only restrict myself to, years ago. And I am totally at peace with that, because this is the life of which brings me the upmost JOY, FREEDOM, GROWTH, and HAPPINESS.
RE: FOOD FREEDOM/
It is usually not an easy nor over night journey; it has taken me 5+ years to arrive, but the journey to FOOD FREEDOM can lead to an immeasurable joy in life. Before I go any further, I want to note that I understand that I am talking about a sensitive subject to many, especially anyone who struggles with an eating disorder. I am not an expert on disordered eating – what I am sharing here, is just my unique journey with food and the essence of my lifestyle.
The first few years post autoimmune diagnosis, I was so wrapped up in learning as much as I possibly could about healing, that I inadvertently created food goals that were not sustainable in the long run. I am not discrediting the practices or protocols that I utilized (and still do intermittently) during my healing, and there is most definitely a time and place where they are a must and can truly heal and transform a persons health and therefore, life.
But as time passed, I found myself in a place in which I didn’t HAVE to think about the physiological reaction that every bite of food was going to create within my body or how it would correlate to (or setback) my healing journey. Therefore, I slowly started to realize that, unless absolutely necessary, there is a HUGE importance in NOT placing so much emphasis on eating “perfectly” or those “perfectly healthy” foods every meal of every single day.
As a matter of fact, the amount of stress that can be created from 100% steering clear of the “bad foods”, can actually be counterproductive and cause even more harm than that actual piece of pizza would! To get to the point: TRYING TO MAINTAIN A 100% PERFECT DIET CAUSES MORE HARM THAN GOOD – that is my truth.
PLUS! I. LOVE. FOOD. SO. MUCH. I have accepted the fact that I don’t want to live a life where I always have to say no to the things that yeah, may not be the healthiest of choices, but spark so much happiness within enjoying! …really, it’s just about balance.
Food is not the one solution to saving the planet. But before your feathers get ruffled, remember the simple fact: we are all entitled to our own opinions. I surely can agree to disagree and still respect an opposing view. Yes, my diet consists of meat. If you cannot accept that, then I would ask you to just not engage with or follow me on the channels in which I share my life. I will not waste anymore time of my life arguing with anyone who does not possess the human understanding of compassion within differences. Nope.
I have endlessly opened up my mind and heart to learning aspects of all different kinds of lifestyles and dietary ways. My choices are not ignorantly nor blindly made. Although there are most definitely some horrible (and needing of improvements) aspects to conventional livestock production, etc., something that I found to be missing in pretty much every single anti-meat campaign that I have seen or read, is the essential role that grazing animals play in genuinely sustainable agriculture. Some aspects of livestock production may need to be reformed, but eliminating it completely would do more harm than good. Livestock is necessary for maintaining healthy soil food webs on our agricultural land. Their trampling, grazing, and digestive systems cannot be replaced by wild animals nor by technology.
There is no doubt a significance to the question of, “What should we eat to reduce our impact on the environment?” However, the other part of that question that is repeatedly omitted, is, “…while also reducing the incidence of the diet-related diseases which threaten to completely overwhelm our healthcare systems.” A large percentage of food production debates that I have listened to and read, are very predisposed and biasedly dominated by people with little (or sometimes none) practical experience with actual food production.
Now when a campaign vilifies meat or animal products all together, for the sake of “sustainability”, more times than not, the following issues are not even mentioned or touched on at all:
- The environmental impact of palm oil/soy bean oil, sunflower oil (etc.) production.
- The environmental impact of nitrogen fertilizers.
- The decline in pollinating insects and the correlating effects.
- The harm of pesticides (also with known carcinogenic impacts) that basically would have been banned A LONG TIME AGO, if it were not for the fact that seed oils/vegetable growers can’t produce food without them now.
- The soil degradation and sterilization.
According to an SFT (Sustainable Food Trust) Policy Director,
Environment Secretary Michael Gove himself has warned that we are 30-40 years away from running out of soil fertility on large parts of our arable land.
Contrary to popular belief, continuous crop production is not sustainable. That’s the mistake made by the Sumerians 5,000 years ago in what is now Iraq, and the Romans in North Africa 2,000 years ago; and in both cases the soils have never recovered. Far from abandoning livestock farming on grassland, we actually need to reintroduce grass and grazing animals into arable crop rotations.
It’s true, and a very great concern, that human activity is destroying the natural world in a completely unsustainable way. The growing of grain crops specifically for intensive livestock is clearly part of the problem, as is highly intensive grassland farming. However, blaming meat consumption so specifically lets an awful lot of practices off the hook. When one considers the rabbits, hares, deer, moles and wild birds killed each year to protect food crops, and the decline in hedgehog and other small mammal numbers since the 1950s – in part due to the removal of hedgerows to make fields larger for crop production – plant-based diets could even be responsible for the deaths of as many mammals and birds as animals slaughtered from the livestock sector.
Since we were (mistakenly in my view) encouraged to switch from animal to vegetable fats 35 years ago, we’ve also consumed and used ever-greater quantities of palm oil from south-east Asia. Its production has been responsible for the near annihilation of many species, including orangutans, pygmy elephants and Sumatran elephants, rhinos and tigers. With demand still growing, similar pressures are now building in equatorial countries in Africa and South America where palm oil production is also taking off. The scientists behind some of the most recent research on species decline blame “human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption…” rather than livestock production specifically.
Okay, before I go any further, (you can disagree or agree – that’s your own business), I want to share one of the most important understandings in my opinion, in regards to being constantly inundated with other people’s unique lifestyle beliefs and the never-ending choices of labels to place on oneself:
There is no one dietary lifestyle that is healthy for every single person all-around.
One of the many strangers, who attacked me for eating meat, had said this to me, “If you care about the planet or your health and not getting cancer you REALLY should stop eating meat. Go try a Beyond Meat burger, I promise that you won’t miss those atrocious meals you eat that further the suffering and killing of innocent animals!”
…….First of all, BEYOND MEAT IS ACTUALLY BEYOOOONDDDD ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY “HEALTHY”. If you actually read in to the ingredients of these products, they are also not sustainable either.
One of the main ingredients is soy protein isolate. For me, having a thyroid condition and autoimmune conditions, soy is something that I try to avoid as much as possible (80%). Also, according to a Dr. Mercola source,
Soy protein isolate is not something you can make in your own kitchen. Production takes place in industrial factories where a slurry of soy beans is first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution.
Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. The resultant curds are spray- dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder.
Another Beyond Meat ingredient is canola oil. When rapeseeds are highly pressurized, to extract the last of the oil, canola cakes undergo a 70-minute wash with a “chemical solvent.” This chemical solvent, is hexane. A neurotoxin. Furthermore, once the oil cools – it is also bleached!
A Beyond Meat “burger” is created in a lab, with toxic ingredients. Also, most are obviously unaware that Tyson Foods (yes, like Tyson Chicken Nuggets), is part OWNER of the Beyond Meat start-up…. so buying a Beyond Meat product means financially supporting the meat industry.
Let’s Pause for one second though, because I want to make it clear that this was just a response to one, yet still – I AM NOT PREACHING THAT MY DIET IS 100% PERFECT + ALWAYS ABSENT OF SOME OF THESE INGREDIENTS! Let me get to the bigger point here and the remainder of my response (copy/pasted):
Every human is biochemically unique & what is “healthy” for them depends on a plethora of things like their microbial terrain, gastrointestinal integrity, ancestral history, physiological milieu, micronutrient sufficiency, etc…
If you (for no very specific reason to your health or just because of a current fad) vilify one food or diet choice – you can completely miss out on the possible therapeutic values of it. For example, people with autoimmune conditions (like me) can thrive with the inclusion of animal products because of the bioavailability of Vitamins A, D, E, & K, etc…
& In regards to your comment about cancer – the same mindset applies. Consider researching (for one example) Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, who put late pancreatic cancer and other cancers into remission using two varying approaches—one being a vegan diet and one being red meat/animal products. The approach was decided upon by the patients’ ratio of sympathetic to parasympathetic tone and type of cancer. This basically recognizes the INHERENT biochemical individuality which DICTATES ones response to any certain dietary intervention/lifestyle.
All in all though, dietary dogmatism and the cult-like following to any one “diet” tends to be seriously hypocritical. Ones dietary choices should be able to evolve with/like/as their health does. These “what’s right to eat” arguments and fear-mongering that “all meat causes cancer”, etc. – what ppl like you think you are doing, in actuality, is really just becoming the monster that you think you are “fighting against” or trying to prove as inferior/wrong. Please just unfollow me if you don’t agree with my lifestyle. I will not respond any further.
RE: OFFAL + FOOD WASTE/
America is in many ways and for a large group of people, a place of abundance. Though food deserts are still a very real issue in some rural areas, for the most part, food is accessible. However, what coincides with that, is the fact that a majority of people turn their noses up towards anything other than the same ‘ole common cuts of meats or generic vegetables that they have always chosen and can be found in excess at their grocery store.
I’m touching on this topic briefly, because it has a presence in my overall lifestyle and diet today.
I grew up with both parents working full-time for my entire life. A big part of my upbringing was spent with my grandmother. She grew up during the Great Depression, and never ceased to tell me stories of her catching and killing chickens just to have one meal a day, most times, during that era. She instilled a way of thinking that wasting food (or “picky eating” altogether) is utterly sinful. True story: she once made my brother and I, mac-n-cheese with strawberry yogurt, because she had run out of milk. And you guessed it, we had to eat our entire serving without a grimace.
Now this is an immigrant country. Most ancestral stories include parents or grandparents coming to America from other countries. A lot of those countries of origin being much more poor – places where every scrap of food is of high importance. A very big reality also, is that the parts of animals that most Americans contemn, like offal, are a customary part of the rest of the world’s meals and essential nutrition!
Americans, for the most part, only eat the muscles of animals and not their organs. This has been an issue dating back to the World War II era. During that time, the United States was preparing for war and with the Great Depression impoverishing millions, the government realized the need for substitute proteins. Margaret Mead, a preeminent cultural anthropologist, was asked to chair the “Committee on Food Habits”, with basically the task to convince Americans to eat offal.
In that pursuit, social scientists concluded this,
For one, “…lots of people simply have thought of organ meat as scraps and have no idea how to cook it—the average American doesn’t eat offal, in other words, because the average American has never eaten offal.”
And two, “The socioeconomic stigma attached to offal is a whole other problem. Many Americans, think organ meats are what poor country folks ate, and with good reason—organ meats were what poor country folks ate. This being the U.S., said stigma likely has to do with a racial component too. Chitlins, for example, made from pork intestines, first became a staple of African-American diets in colonial times, when prosperous whites dined on the choice hog meat and left their slaves to make do with the guts.”
Oddly enough, today, the hotdog is a much loved commodity in this nation. I presume that is because most are unaware that, if labeled per regulations, hot dogs can contain as much as 85 percent organ meat. But food stigma aside, there are parts of our world where people kill for food, and children die from starvation. So to me, I can’t fathom turning away a meal or dish offered to me, just because it may not be something “usually” seen on a plate or what I decided just wasn’t “for me”. Also, my husband has helped me further this way of thinking and eating; seeing as he himself was an immigrant to this country as a child, and his belief system stems from a very stoic (/grateful for the little that he had) upbringing.
So telling your kids to “eat your food because there are starving kids in ‘XYZ’ country”, it may seem half-jokingly, but at some point, most likely, someone in your family MEANT THAT command in a very serious and intimately-influenced way.
I was raised in a way in which we were always expected to finish our entire serving and not waste the food we had. Being fully transparent though – with my parents, I grew up eating mostly Italian food (Chicago-style), steak and potatoes, nothing too far-fetched or what would be deemed as “exotic”. But, my interest in other cultures and unfamiliar cuisines was very much always alive and played a large role in my imagination. So much so, that the day that I graduated high school, I jumped on a plane and moved to Hawaii by myself – and it was like I finally got what I always dreamed of. A whole new world of food and cuisine that inherently changed me and ignited what has become the ethos of my palate, love of all food (including all parts of the animal) and cooking today.
RE: WHEN I NEED A RESET/
Despite my jaunty prose throughout this article, there are times where I have to predominately focus on my health/the 80%. It is during this time, when I tend to primarily rely on the Autoimmune Protocol System (an elimination diet). Perhaps I have a bad reaction to something or an entirely new symptom pops up; this tool allows me to heal and make choices accordingly until I feel back in a balanced state. Over time, the need for such a reset has become fewer and further in between – which I feel blessed for.
*other things that I turn to, are bone broth and a wide array of herbs and supplements.
Please don’t ever hold me to a standard of an end-all-be-all lifestyle with perfect choices. I give myself the grace to adapt, for I never want to stop learning or growing – ever!
Over time, everything evolves.
For instance, years ago I could not tolerate garlic or onion – I had horrible pains that ended up with several trips to the emergency room, and my stomach was in a horrible state. During that time, I might have been sharing about these types of negative effects of FODMAPS (onion, garlic, etc.), because that was my reality. Additionally, for a very long time (most of my life) I could not tolerate dairy in any form. When I started my health journey I was also learning about potential negative effects of dairy, so, I shared that information too! However, after many years of dedicated healing practices, I have for the most part, healed my stomach veritably and rid these intolerances that I used to suffer from. Now, because of this, I have started to open up my beliefs to the BENEFITS of (responsibly sourced) dairy products and I don’t have to omit FODMOPS from my diet.
So when you are presented with differing diet/lifestyle aspects, filter the information and do your own research! As I have learned, our bodies change, and certain choices will not always be universally applicable. This way, you will expand your knowledge in correlation to your own biology, situation, and conditions.
Ultimately, it’s all about BALANCE, and being yourself.
Thank you for your compassion, understanding, and also in supporting my journey.