It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …–Charles Dickens
I’ve experienced unexpected blessings during the pandemic. I spent more quality time with family, and I was able to slow down and prioritize what mattered most. I met Gigi and created the life-changing program Daniel Fast: A Bridge to Healthy Living to help people take charge of their health. Check out the how we met video. I learned how to turn my kitchen into a 5-star restaurant, I moved my exercise routine outdoors to enhance my mental and emotional health, I spent less money, and I was cornered into a long-term relationship with Zoom.
But in all honesty? Despite all the blessings, this past year has been tremendously tough for me. In addition to living through all the uncertainty and challenges that came with the pandemic, my deepest pain came when I lost members of my family. I lost my sweet mother-in-law, Dora, to Covid. It all happened so fast: she was ill one day and then gone just weeks later. There was no vaccine available at the time and she was in the high-risk group because of her age and chronic health issues. She was a vibrant, passionate woman with so much more life to live. Her presence lit up any room and she was always the life of the party. She was an awesome grandmother, mother, and friend—and there is a void now in our family. I miss her dearly.
I also lost my Uncle Junior this year, because of complications related to high blood pressure. He was a kind, gentle soul and he still had so much more to give to this world. He was my mother’s closest brother and seeing her grieve his loss shatters my heart. My uncle was gone too soon. My family has a history of high blood pressure, which I was able to overcome through the Daniel Fast. If you need some inspiration, you can read my story on how I used the Daniel Fast to get healthy.
Like most people, I had friends and family who got extremely sick but overcame Covid. It was frightening and there was nothing we could do—I think we’ve all realized how little we can actually control, haven’t we? I have lost coworkers and have been affected by stories of those who lost loved ones in my community. So, getting healthier now is personal for me. And, unlike a pandemic, improving our own health practices is something each of us can control.
The short-term solution is the long-term problem
As I reflect on the past year and a half, the pandemic has revealed to me that you can’t wait to take charge of your health. In the beginning of the pandemic, I remember seeing the produce section in the grocery stores stacked with fruits and vegetables but the aisles that housed the ultra-processed foods were empty; people’s carts were filled with chips, cookies, and pies. As people glanced at each other’s carts from a distance there was this understanding that folks felt they needed these foods to comfort them during the lockdown, the unknown.
We were in for shocking news: every TV station was covering the new findings that people with comorbidities like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes were more at risk for complications and even death if they caught Covid. Those Covid pounds you were gaining during the lockdown weren’t comforting or nourishing you—they were putting you at risk. It was an irony of contradictions. Now here we are almost two years into the pandemic and the question of the hour is what are you doing to improve your health?
All the tiny bad decisions have added up
Heart disease was still the number one killer in America for 2020 but Covid usurped the third spot. With our hospitals overwhelmed with Covid patients, people coming in for heart attacks and strokes are not getting the care they need, and that can lead to more deaths. This is why it’s so crucial for each of us to manage our individual health.
Prior to Covid, hearing that we might someday face life-threatening consequences from our poor diets just wasn’t urgent enough to inspire immediate change for most people. We figured that eating fast food today wasn’t going to result in a heart attack tomorrow. People fooled themselves into thinking they had a lot of time to make changes to their health. Days of putting off getting healthy added up to years of snowballing chronic conditions. The result? Diminished quality of life or even death for many.
Covid has awakened us to the fact that we cannot wait. We all must improve our diet and lifestyle now. Heart disease and other chronic illnesses may take years to manifest the choices we’ve made daily, which gives us more opportunities to make lifestyle changes to reduce our risk. Covid, on the other hand, is like a train wreck—it is fast-moving, giving almost no time to course-correct. Like “lifestyle illnesses,” it’s harshest to people who’ve indulged habits that erode their own health. And we’re learning now that Covid is not going away anytime soon.
We cannot wait to take charge of our health. It is time to face the music and be the healthiest versions of ourselves.
It’s not too late to take charge of your health
Maybe you’re thinking it’s too late to make changes that will benefit your health quickly. Good news: studies show that even moderate changes to our diet and lifestyles give us big dividends concerning our health. Best of all, the results can be immediate. Studies show that you can reduce your risk of death by quitting smoking, consuming a healthy diet (marked by how much plants you consume), and engaging in sufficient physical activity.
Let’s take obesity for example. We know that obesity is a comorbidity that increases our risk of negative outcomes of Covid because the virus thrives in fat cells. Fortunately, studies show that our immune system benefits when we are in the process of losing weight. So even when you have just begun to lose weight and you may still be in the obesity range, your downward trend of weight will benefit your health. As your weight goes down, your immune system improves.
Vaccines are great, but they’re no magic pill
Today we have vaccines that help reduce our risk of dying from Covid. A blessing, yes, but no reason to lessen the urgency of getting healthy now. With the virus constantly mutating and producing variants, and the threat of all the unknown future infectious diseases, we must remain diligent in guarding our health by choosing foods that edify our bodies. Check out “What does the Daniel Fast do to my body?” to learn more.
Scientists now say that we are moving into the endemic stage of the virus, which basically means that it’s not a matter of if you will catch Covid but when. In other words, even with the protection of the vaccine we need to also be in our best health to get through this and other viruses with little long-term damage. We don’t have to box ourselves in to either getting vaccinated or getting healthier: we have to do both.
Many of us are still waiting for the magic pill to resolve heart disease and to win the war on cancer. But the truth is that it makes no sense to pray for that magic pill while ignoring the mountain of health-giving magic we already have in whole plant foods. We need to start eating like our lives depend on it—because they do.
Circling back to that Charles Dickens quote, it has been the worst of times: so many have died. It can be the best of times: you can be inspired to act, right now.
Covid has shattered the illusion that we can wait to take charge of our health. We can no longer wait!