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Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Taste of My Passion Concoction

I have not always been an advocate for public health, well at least the kind that matters.

When I was younger, I would love McDonalds and would ask to go get a couple Oreo Chocolate Chip McFlurries after every gymnastics practice, and I would love to loathe eating naturally colorful things like broccoli, or red bell peppers. I was repeatedly pounded with ads and PSAs that said “healthy foods save lives” or “McDonalds can kill you” but no message ever sank in, especially because of the lack of gained weight I maintained due to the grueling practices. There was no reason for me to stop. There were two eras in my life that cemented me into my current regimen. When I started developing hormones that resulted in skin flares, I became eager to find the next remedy to mend my skin and confidence. Everywhere I looked there were websites and Dr. Oz shows saying “Solution to Acne: Healthy lifestyle”. Through this realization, and through extensive research on acne and the longevity of one’s vitality, I began to control myself. However, this became an unhealthy obsession, some might say that it was an addiction.

As I was quitting the horizontally and vertically growth stunting sport of gymnastics after seven years, I was entering the phase of puberty in which you become conscious of what others think about your appearance. I began exposing myself to the fashion industry’s “model-standard”. It was then, that I began fencing, and after a couple years of recreational fencing, I started competing. One summer, I experienced my first case of tendonitis - my first chronic injury within this new sport. I was suggested to take a couple months off, which I did after 4 months of stalling with the athlete’s tendency to work through the pain. During those 2 months, I started worrying about gaining weight and fat due to the lack of doable exercise available for me. Thus, starting another long era of calorie-tracking (sometimes I even went days eating less than 600 calories while exercising to bring in a negative net). I was not the slightest bit aware in that zeitgeist that through this form of malnutrition (although I was only eating fresh produce, fruits and organics) my mood became unbearable and easily phased, my focus on priorities shifted into a downward spiral, my relationship with my family was on edge, and my injuries were not healing, instead, they were getting worse. Those around me were always pushing me to eat more, but I refused to give in because I thought I was doing the right thing. This scary era in my life went on for about a year. No one else knew about it, but the effects of my decisions were publicly visible.

It was a very gradual change that put me back on track and better than ever. It started with me becoming seriously competitive in the sport, which resulted in an increase in intensity and time in my training. The effort and the energy needed to maintain my composure and improve my performance could not even merely be met with my current habits and lifestyle. Thusly, as my food intake grew, and the category of foods consumed were nutritionally optimized, my mental and physical health skyrocketed. I hadn’t felt so energized in forever and a year. Oh, the wonders that were evoked from dormancy; my ability to focus was peaked, my muscle gain was unprecedented, my irritable mood was controlled and put into a coma (hopefully for forever), my grades catapulted upwards with less effort, my relationships with my family members were improved, my priorities shifted for the better, etc. However, these catastrophic results were from a constant uphill of nuance-like changes. The progressive changes and persistence turned my life on a novel and efficient track. Now, you might call me a hypochondriac, for I am still in a healthy extreme as far as consumption of certain foods. Through my battle against the darn acne, I’ve refrained from even tasting the slightest concoction of cacao/choco (it’s a myth, yes, but it is a completely viable excuse to repeat to myself when I have a healthier option or the choice to say no - which is all the time), stuff that cooks in a pot of oil, and many other foods that I have similar peeves about. But my decisions are based on the result of the consumption, the future, not the present. I know that if I do not get enough lean protein, then my performance goes into the red. If I do not eat my 5 different natural colors each day, then cancer is inevitable (exaggeration; but thank you, Dr. Oz). The most important concept that I learned is that you certainly are not what you eat, however, what you and how (much) you eat defines you.

My efforts to become a more “efficient” person in all aspects of life, have gained me my present stance. And now, in hindsight, through my experiences, I have gained the knowledge through self and public observance that everyone has a striking potential, but not everyone’s has been unleashed fully and/or correctly, but equally as important, not everyone knows that they, themselves, contain such capability. Generally speaking, if each and every person could be able to release and effectively use their capacity, the world would be able to advance with lightning speed; the impoverished would hack away at social classes, and problems would be solved much more efficiently. With this line of thinking, the next generation, even if they are birthed into a hard state, will be able to achieve and accomplish feats that seemed unachievable and unattainable to them before. We must, as people who are granted lives that are much more comfortable than the lives of others, balance this unbalanced equation for ourselves and our surrounding peers. In retrospect to all that I, personally, have gone through, what my family has gone through and, of course, what those around me have gone through, I have come up with mottos that I live by. One of the many is: “Food drives the mind. The mind drives the life.” If food awareness, access, and reach are all obtained, think of all the possibilities that could be brought forth from the masses of potential released.

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I have, on the other hand, always been an advocate for our natural sustainer.

My first memory that sparked my promotion for the environment started when I first entered Elementary School. I clearly remember at lunch, every day, those sitting around me would say “Aw man, Mommy packed me this again?” or “Ew, I hate this!” I was already growing accustomed to the complaints but what happens after the moans are still very foreign to me. The grievances were 95% of the time followed by a shoot and a score into the nearby trash bin. Horrifying. Absolutely horrifying that the natural tendency of people is to waste things. Even more horrifying is how humans make a game out of such things. I was raised in a hardworking household who have seen and experienced starvation, thus heightening my awareness and action towards eating every bite that I am given. When Hurricane Katrina made her spill down the staircase, I can undoubtedly recall the masses of food cans and the sort that were piled up in my school’s front office for donations. This phenomena really did not make sense to my preteen mind, and it still does not today. How could people waste things that are commodities to them so frivolously on a daily basis but once a blue-mooned disaster that makes headlines powers through, they are willing to generously give supplies? Disasters are perpetual in a world like ours. As follows, everyone should be frugal with their commodities and not take them for granted, because the person next to you right now might need those extra apple slices that you just tossed into the trash because you weren’t famished or you don't have a preference towards the nutrition-packed-fruit.

The earth produces all the materials that we need to make things, likewise, the earth can reuse the materials that we deem “waste”. BOOM! MIND EXPLODED! If our mother earth has the power to do such a thing, why don’t we have that same power? Well, we do, and I learned this through my own frugality. Simultaneous to my acne-phase, I began my obsession to have the clothes that were deemed “trendy”, however my family was and is very frugal so anything that is extraneous to our needs was quickly eradicated from our buy-list through logically reasoning. “Trendy” and expensive Hollister cotton tees were included in this eradication. I did not let my own values go, so to combat this wanting and yearning, I decided to make my own “poser-trendy” pieces. I would use clothes that I, my sister, and my mother did not wear anymore and completely transform them by use of a simple sewing machine and tools/pieces around the house. To this day, one of my mottos is “Nothing is Waste”. I create much of my wardrobe and style from hand-me-downs or fabrics that were bought and that had served a different purpose in their previous life (curtains, etc.). I also had myself a short-term business going with altering and transforming jeans and pants for my friends from samples from my father’s business. Nothing is waste. I believe that through this passion and eye for creating new products out of the old, I was able to mesh my frugality and my eco-friendly/problem-solving attributes together. Going back to the thesis of this paragraph on how the Earth creates matter as a cycle, it is our job on this planet to maintain and further enhance this cycle. Landfills will fill up, yes, global warming will affect and has affected all, yes, but what are we doing? There is potential in every nuance and crevice in this world. And this is the next concept that I advocate. The beauty of composting (and methods alike and in different fields) is that we can use natural methods to renew what we deemed of as “waste”, that the Earth originally naturally produced, and reuse what we, with the help of our nature, made. The soil that is essentially a natural and chemical-free fertilizer now goes back to create more things such as organic food, etc., and the cycle goes on. The Earth is truly genius, and we must exploit and use her knowledge and omnipresent resources efficiently.

Lastly, I created the name “The Food Ark" so that it’s back story could allude to the story of “Noah’s Ark” and how Noah essentially saved many, many, organisms from disaster. That is ultimately our goal: to provide the Earth with those who are passionate who will sustain her, and to provide people with a channel that leads to success.

The Food Drives the Mind. The Mind Drives the Life.

Nothing is Waste.

Everything Has Potential. Everyone Has Potential.

We are the Food Ark.

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