I, like most of the country, am completely sucked in to the NBC drama, ‘This is Us’. And I, like most viewers, challenge myself weekly to avoid crying while watching an episode. How can you not? The show confronts big issues without hiding the messy side of life. If I can relate to the moment, I’m in a puddle of tears. But one recent episode really rocked me.
No. Not the one where Kate and Toby try POUND at the weight loss camp (see pic). Though, I like that one for obvious reasons (we offer POUND at TURN). I’m talking about the funeral episode for Randall’s dad, William.
Let me catch you up in case you’re living under a rock. Randall and William only recently became acquainted as father and son because Randall was given up for adoption as a newborn. In his months long time with his terminally ill, biological father he learns one valuable lesson: slow down and enjoy life. Something we can all take stock in.
It wasn’t until watching that episode that I realized the old me, the executive producer me, had forgotten to “take time to talk to my mailman.”
In my 30’s I defined success with dollars. I worked hard. I built a career, a family, a home, even a business – but after a few short years, I no longer built new relationships. You might even say I stopped building a life. I just didn’t have the time or the energy to go to or host events, or meet new people. I was in and out. I remember telling myself, ‘Well, if I just keep two or three really good friends for the rest of my life, that’s okay.’ It wasn’t until watching that episode that I realized the old me, the executive producer me, had forgotten to “take time to talk to my mailman.”
I just stole that quote from Randall.
Shortly after his father died, he quit his job and his stunned boss asked, “What are you going to do now?” Randall replied, “Walk instead of run. Slow down. Take time to talk to my mailman.” He was referring to his dying father who was developing dynamic impactful relationships, even at the end of his life, with people like the mailman (who was choked up when he learned William had died).
It’s been six months since I made the choice to leave TV news and I’ve “talked to the mailman” on several occasions. Figuratively, that is. I’ve developed friendships and had lunches with several small-business owners in the city. I’ve spent hours talking to my friends and family on the phone (Like, ‘til 2:00am on a Thursday). I’ve bonded with TURN students while taking more classes than just Dance Trance, I've lined up events for us to enjoy and I’ve hung out talking in the halls of the studio to maintenance and repairmen who wanted to share their fitness journeys. I've even redecorated rooms in the building and, I guess, in my heart - because similar interactions are taking place at home and with neighbors. Life looks brighter and fun again and I want to share in it with more people. I feel stronger and healthier too.
The nice thing about working at TURN is the studio is filled with so many visitors, clients and instructors from different backgrounds and hometowns that the journalist in me is still thriving. Only now, I am creating friendships instead of newscasts.
If you haven’t talked to your mailman, I’m giving you permission to slow down and say hello. Maybe even talk about how ‘This is Us’ made you cry the ugly cry… yet again.
So, a client, who shall remain nameless, suggested I start a blog. I explained that I had a blog and pointed to this one on our website. She hesitated, smirked and then replied, “A blog with more than two posts.”
[Boom] She went there. To be fair there are four posts on my blog, thank you very much!
Truth be told, I needed a breather from writing and an inspiration to write. Today, as I washed my face, I got that creative bolt of lightning I was looking for in the form of a rash on my chin and cheeks.
In January, I went Whole 30. For those of you that don’t know – it’s a diet that basically eliminates whole food groups for 30 days (no grains, dairy, sugars, alcohol or processed foods) to help you figure out where you’re going wrong in your day-to-day eating. There are all kinds of reasons to do it. For me, it was weight loss. For others, it is about getting more energy from your food, maybe cleansing the body, or figuring out allergies. Regardless, I knew it would be hard to give up so much at once but I had tried protein diets and low-carb diets and none had worked. So this was a last shot.
Having been in a newsroom for ten years, I had some pretty bad eating habits. I drank something sugary everyday like coffee, but it could be sweet tea or soda. I had a donut or a piece of cake, often. I ate out almost daily and snacked on Doritos at 2:00pm, and then after work, I indulged in the fast food my kids were eating for dinner. After bedtime, I ate a bag of popcorn.
Needless to say, the first four days of Whole 30 were the toughest. I felt like I was starving and shoved almonds, sweet potatoes, eggs, veggies and chicken into my mouth around the clock. I had blood sugar crashes almost daily and had to carry bananas and oranges with me everywhere. Sometimes the crash just meant a headache or I was extra irritable and cranky, even sleepy. However, on the nights I taught Dance Trance, it meant I forgot routines, or didn’t have the stamina to make it through more than 45-minutes of class. By day five though, my brain felt clear, I was happy (like blue birds singing happy), my stomach felt full-but not bloated, my skin and hair were amazing, my arthritis in my injured knee was nearly gone, my menstrual cycle was, dare I say, pleasant and I had a lot of energy. But the best part was I lost nine pounds on that diet in 30-days.
Changing my eating habits plus, my already active lifestyle equaled big results. I’m told that doesn’t happen for everyone, but I think eating clean worked for me because I ate so crappy before. (Which I didn't really realize or want to believe.) You should also know, I have hypothyroidism so losing weight does not come easy for me. It's like trying to move a mountain. I’ve been about 15-20 pounds overweight since giving birth to my youngest son and it’s been a struggle to get it off but this diet provided a lot of clarity: I ate way too much sugar before because IT IS IN everything. I also ate way too many processed foods. In addition, I’ve learned that I’m allergic to corn. That’s why I have a rash on my chin now. Which is terrible because I’m Mexican-American and a lot of the foods I love from my culture are corn based but now that I’ve introduced them back into my diet, I get a rash and get flushed and my stomach aches something awful. (Going to see the allergist later this month.)
And yes, the diet has been over for more than a month now, but I really haven’t returned to my old eating habits. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had bad days and indulged in a potato chip or french fry here and there, but I often feel so bad afterwards that it’s just not worth doing it on repeat. I’ve also been leaning on the dinners from Eat Smart (see card in the studio) to help me avoid trash foods. The home cooked, healthy and well-balanced, prepared meals have helped me keep the weight off and lose another four pounds.
I share this with you to hopefully inspire you to look at your own diet for something that could be an over-indulgence or maybe even something that’s making you sick. For me, it was sugar and corn for you it could be dairy, alcohol or processed foods. Here's a clue, if you’re working out 4-to-5 times a week and not seeing the results you want, you may need to change your diet. Remember this, workouts are only 20% of your weight loss the other 80% comes from what you consume.
If you decide you want to do Whole 30, get the books and follow the Instagram pages on meal ideas and try to get into a support group. That helped me stay the course and ask questions when I had good/bad days or went out to eat at a restaurant and needed some reinforcements.
About the Author
Sandi Cano Cauley is a small business owner, fitness instructor, dancer and retired broadcast journalist. She operates Turn Cardio Jam Studio in Richmond, VA (founded in 2015) with goals to mesh dance + fitness and connect others with some of their youth. She is also a 3 x boy mom, a Tejana, a wannabe