I don't know what happened to me.
When I was a kid, I was full of verve. I had a ton of energy that was boundless and explosive, energy that kept me moving from the moment I leaped out of bed until I was forced to go to sleep. I didn't know it but in a way, my body was my best friend. I took care of it inadvertently but it was excellent care, nonetheless -- thanks to my father's heart attack, we ate clean for the most part -- fresh fruits and vegetables, and chicken, lots of different kinds of fish and game, usually roasted. We weren't allowed to eat candy. Thanks to my mother's budget, we hardly ever ate fast food. We had a swimming pool, bicycles, acres of wooded area to run through and explore with plenty of trees to climb.
(Yes, I'm from the South.)
Later in college, there was no alcohol, no hard drugs and no carcinogens of any kind. Initially, I wasn't interested. When I got curious, I couldn't afford it because at that time my real name was Poverty McBroke-ington. Not having money meant that I cooked for myself most of the time, so I maintained the eating habits I had when I was a kid. What I could afford was monthly facials at a deluxe spa. And plenty of sunscreen. And a decent pair of running shoes -- along with a sports bra that would keep Pancho and Lefty completely stationary.
What can I tell you? Your money follows your priorities. I didn't realize it at the time, but the foundation had already been set in concrete from childhood. I couldn't eat garbage -- well, I could and when I did, I felt like garbage, so I stopped. I didn't know how to drive, so I rode my bike everywhere. And on a college campus that covered 3 zip codes, I put in some serious mileage every day. Last but not least, I wore sunscreen religiously. I even wore sunscreen on cloudy days. Force of habit, I suppose. When you're constantly reinforcing good habits, the payoff is immeasurable.
By the time I got to New York City, I was really broke -- but I got a gym membership, anyway. And a bike. And lots and lots of sunscreen. I still ate at home, usually. And when I had money, I got facials. Sometimes this routine was easy to maintain and sometimes it was very hard. But whenever I fell off, I always dusted myself off and got right back on that horse. I was so used to living this way that it felt weird to not do it.
Jump cut to here and now. I've been team natural for years but I've only made a concerted effort to grow my hair long for the past four years or so. Thanks to a skincare regimen that has included high end products, regular spa visits and sunscreen, my skin is flawless. I've been more off than on with the gym these days because I've been busy with other things but today I hit a snag: it took me 15 minutes to run a mile. Unthinkable. And therein lies the fork in the road. I can either keep eating or I can start running all over again.
Needless to say, I'm getting back on that horse. My goal is to run a mile comfortably in less than 10 minutes within a month.
What's the moral to this little story? Good health isn't an accident -- and neither is beauty. Coco Chanel was right when she said there are no ugly women -- only lazy ones.
It's a lot of good habits, all piled up on top of each other, and it's a TON of hard work. It's the hard work of staying on that treadmill for an hour. It's the discipline of eating clean instead of popping into McDonald's. It's getting the products and the professional treatments you need to take care of your hair, skin and nails. And it never, ever stops.
Little did I know that maintaining an eat clean/live clean regimen was my saving grace. I just thought I was too broke to live the good life when lo and behold, I was living the good life all along. I seriously wish someone had told me that being a girl was this much work, though. It'll be worth it, knowing that I'll look 28 when I'm 50.