Compos mentis /ˌkɒmpɒs ˈmɛntɪs/

adjective 1. Be in control of and responsible for your actions.

I was convinced that if I worked-out hard enough, I can eat whatever I want and be happy — and for a while I was. It wasn’t until I got habituated to my eating lifestyle that the negative aspects started to weigh in. The extra kilograms, the oily and outbreak-prone skin, the animal-like addiction to junk food, those were only some of the visible effects of my unhealthy eating habits.

I was convinced that if I worked-out hard enough(no, your eyes didn’t wander), heavily monitored and restricted my diet, then I will be happy — and for a while I was. I was intermittent fasting with a 5–6 hour eating window and eating a highly restricted diet with calories not exceeding 1750 a day. On top of that, an hour and a half calisthenics(cardio-oriented) gym session and an 8 km post-gym walk for added measure. Yes, I did rock a six-pack. I also, though, experienced hormonal imbalances, loss of libido, lower threshold to any change in life, and lower tolerance(and by extension heightened anger).

Was I happy in either phase? Yes, I was happy in both. Is happiness sustainable in any of those two phases? You know the answer to this one.

“Aut viam inveniam aut faciam ”

— Hannibal (𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋)

I shall either find a way or make one (Hannibal). I understand; it’s not easy. It actually sounds harder — and it is — to find what’s right for you. What I found to work for me, a way I’m sure you will appreciate if you try, is what I like to call being “food conscious.”

Food consciousness is when you know what you’re eating; by that I don’t mean know you’re currently eating an apple, but rather know what the apple entails. For example, I know that an Unica chocolate bar is around 120 calories, is low in protein but high in sugar. I also know that a can of tuna in water is around 120 calories and is high in protein and omega-3. Know what you eat.

After developing the habit of understanding what my food is, it became much easier for me to eat healthily and be able to enjoy the occasional delight. My abs aren’t crisp sharp anymore, but they sure are rocking. Everything else? My tolerance has gone back up, my libido is back, my threshold for change has dramatically increased, and much more. This will not make me happy forever, but it sure is sustainable for long-term development.

Find a healthy diet plan that suits your body and stick with it, then you can consciously have a piece of cake heaven when time permits. Remember, it’s all about the average gradual progression (refer to Chapter II). The dips are bound to happen. Instead of seeing our cravings as the devil in disguise, understand that it is a natural phenomenon for our bodies. Cater to your needs, but do them consciously.

Keep a balance, no need to overdo; you will be able to sustain. As long as the majority of what you eat is healthy nutritious food, you will be fine.

If you would like to practice food consciousness, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Read. Almost every food item has a verified nutritional facts either on their packaging or online. Start the habit of looking up what you eat, with time you will develop a mental database of rough, but useful, approximation of nutritional facts.
  2. Don’t be afraid to count — at least in the beginning. I hear this a lot: people are genuinely resistant to counting calories for the fear of obsessing over it. I assure you, you will only obsess if you allow yourself to do so. What counting does is creates awareness of the amount you eat, which will greatly help you when you plan to eat something outside your healthy plan.
  3. Be ready. You will experience the dip and eat more junk food than planned. As mentioned in Chapter III, dips are inevitable. A lot of days are going to go smooth, but many others won’t. As long as the good days remain controlled to outweigh, you’re good. When a dip happens, don’t cut calories or fast. Continue your day normally, the next day be healthy.
  4. Understand yourself. Please, I beg of you, don’t go for those 4-week crash plans, or those eat only apple plans. Understand what your body requires of nutrition and personal needs, then cater accordingly. Each body requires catered attention, don’t neglect yours.

If you’ve also been through your own journey, I would love to hear your stories!

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