Every one of us, has searched for a mentor – a person, who could help us achieve our goals. I, as well as you, are the kind of people who are interested in a healthier lifestyle; people who adore to show off with the number of push – ups we can do; the weight that we can deadlift or squat; how fast we can finish a 400m run. We set goals and often times we think that we don’t have enough to achieve them. We think that we haven’t found the right coach. We whine that we don’t have enough money to pay for a coach; enough time to go to the gym or enough luck to meet the best coach.
Have you heard how they say that what we need is actually around us? The thing is that we are not vigilant enough to notice it.
Well, today I will tell you about the people who taught me the most about health. I will tell you more about my mentors. And if you expect me to list their titles, I will tell you that none of them has such ( when it comes to training and nutrition). People who are around me, on a daily basis and people that I could constantly observe … for free and even they don’t suspect what I see and what I discover in them.
Mentor number 1: My father
My father is not one of those people who count calories. You will see him, eating toasted bread, with a thin layer of butter spread on top and some juicy, homemade sausage for a final touch. He loves chocolate and homemade cakes. Still, my father looks in great shape.
What did I learn from him?
I learned that fit are not the people who go on a diet, but those who appreciate food and have a mindful approach to it. My dad is one of those people who give their best in everything. He works a lot and often times he forgets about himself, while he is busy thinking about others. He might not even know it, but he is unconsciously fasting. His first meal is in the afternoon or straight in the evening. He comes home hungry, but he doesn’t indulge in food, nor he eats while standing or doing something else. He might be starving, but he will sit around the table. He will patiently cut his food in small and perfectly precise pieces. It seems as every piece was cut with a template. He will arrange his food in the plate, and when it looks as if it was served in a 5 star restaurant, he will start eating. Then he eats really slow. He chews every bite and enjoys the taste. I haven’t heard him saying that he has overeaten.
By observing my father, I learned to appreciate my food and have a mindful attitude towards it. I now know, that a person is getting satiety not just by what he puts in his mouth – just because eating is multi-sensory. What matters is not just the taste of food, but the way it looks, the combination of tastes, the feeling ( is it crumbly, soft, hard), the time we chew it and the signals that reach our brain.
Lesson 1 : Fit people are those who appreciate food and have mindful attitude towards it!
Mentor 2: Ivaylo
I love having breakfast, lunch and dinner with him. I could observe him with hours. He turns everything into art. Food is no exception. He always arranges the salad. He makes broccoli look like a flower or a tree. He makes smiles with olives and peppers, on top of my omelets or he just carefully, arranges the food on the plate.
Ivaylo is one of those people, who are pretty fit, without being on a diet or going to the gym on a schedule. Actually, he rarely goes to the gym.
He eats really slow and he starts eating, only after he has completely prepared his food. I am the kind of person, wo will press the steak on the pan, when I am starving, praying that it will bake faster. On the other hand, he will stay patiently and wait until the steak gets ready… BY ITSELF. Without outer forces.
There could be a bunch of his favorite foods, but he won’t indulge in them. He will eat enough, without overeating. He prefers to eat enough, so he doesn’t get stuffed and later on, when he is hungry, he will eat again. He doesn’t care of he has eaten 2 times or 8 times. He eats when he is hungry. It doesn’t matter if it is a couple hours after 6p.m. or if it is 12p.m. and he hasn’t even had breakfast yet. For him, food is not the meaning of his life, but just something that gives him pleasure, when he needs fuel. The rest of the time, he is so into what he is doing, that he doesn’t need to kill the boredom with food.
Lesson 2: Food is not the meaning of life, but a fuel which brings us pleasure, when we need it.
Ivaylo taught me another lesson. He taught me that you do not need to make structured workouts in order to be in shape. He trains when he feels like it, and the rest of the time he is exactly like kids – he is constantly doing something –weather he is gonna jump on the bar of a bridge; weather he will do a pull up on a branch, even though the last time the branch broke and he fell on the ground; weather he will jump with ease on a cliff or he will just do a sprint to climb a hill in the mountain. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t train for appearance. He trains for life – he trains to challenge himself and enjoy the abilities that our bodies possess, while living life. He is fitter than 90% of the people I know – people who train on a daily basis and strictly count each rep and lb.
Lesson 3: In order to be fitter you don’t need to train in the gym. In order to be fitter, you need to use your body – all day long. You need to move it in as many ways as possible; you need to move it in a spontaneous way and not just out of a routine habit.
Mentor 3: My sister
If you don’t know it yet, I have a twin sister. When people see us together, they say: “You are so much alike.” Then we explain we are twins and what follows is: “ Really? Oh, you don’t have anything in common!”
Yes, even though we are twins, as much as we are alike we are really different. Gabi was one of the kids, who used to be fatter. The kind of kid who loved second helpings and wasn’t ashamed to ask for more. Her love for food, led her to a point when she was 17 years old, yet she was really heavy – 96kg.
Until the day, when she decided that this is not the body she wanted to live in; a body that was gonna define her and the reason others would judge her. She decided that food is not the most precious thing in her life and she changed… completely. She started taking care of her body. Back in the days, she ate her food in no time.
Today, Gabi is the kind of woman, who causes traffic on the street when she walks across it.She looks fabulous and she is really fit. She eats slowly and sometimes, I even get irritated by the fact how much time she needs to eat. You won’t see her asking for second helpings or to pile food on her plate.
Lesson 4: Where you are now Is not that important. What matters is who you work to become. Being fit doesn’t have a deadline or an age. Being fit is a matter of choice. Habits could be formed and they are a consequence of a decision that we make!
Mentor 4: My grandmother
A lot of people think that being in shape has an age imitation. Actually, being fit is a lifestyle and not a temporary state of being. My grandmother is 71 years old, yet she looks fabulous. Not because she is my grandma, but because you can’t call the white, black. I’ve always admired the way she eats and the desire she invests in cooking.
When I was a kid, I was irritated by the fact how slowly she cut the salad in really small pieces. It took more time, and who cared how it was cut. As the time went by, I realized I was wrong. Part of the pleasure of eating is in preparing your food – with desire.
My grandma is not the kind of woman who was an athlete, but she is the kind of a woman that always rises up admiration. She is constantly doing something. She spends a lot of time in the garden – she carries stuff, digs, mows the yard, waters the flowers or cleans the windows. Fitness at home, with whatever is available.
Lesson 5: Being fit is a lifestyle; an attitude towards life and a deep care about details.
Mentor 5: My little cousin – Mariela
Have you thought how much we could learn from kids? For me, they are our teachers. They remind us what we have forgotten and they cue us that we have taken our own self and life too seriously.
I love observing Mimi, when she eats. On her plate, everything is cut in really small pieces. She enjoys each bite, as if she just received a present. She takes a bite and places it her mouth. She closes her eyes, just like we do when we feel pleasure. As if she doesn’t need to see it. All she needs is to feel it. Then she chews slowly, with a huge smile on her face.
She could eat 1 apple… all day long – in small bites. She eats some, then she starts playing and later she comes back for another bite. If she is full and you are on your knees, asking her to eat a couple more bites, she will refuse. Yes, kids do not eat when they are full. They stop and they do not overeat. When she is hungry, nothing could make her mood better, until you give her an opportunity to eat.
Lesson 6: Eating is an experience. Eating is a pleasure and as such, it should have a measure – if we eat too much, then we don’t feel pleasure; if we do not eat enough, the pleasure is lost again!
Lesson 7: Kids are always in shape, because they are constantly moving – they jump, run, crawl. Kids are always fit because when they are tired – they rest. A kid that is tired, will always sit or go to sleep. Kids know that a champion is born, when he rests.
These are my mentors. The teachers who taught me more than any textbook or fitness guru. Think about it! I am sure that there is a bunch of them around you. Just observe them. People who are around us and people who always possess what we need. And they are willing to give it freely to us. Just observe them more!