I was born in Trinidad in the Port of Spain General hospital and I was grown up in East Dry River, Port of Spain which is situated in Laventille. I was raised in a single parent home, alongside my mother and my grandfather. It was there that molded the foundation of most of my life habits, practices, beliefs and values. Based on what I can remember, my grandfather (who has had a huge influence in my childhood) was always one to be enthusiastic and dedicated to indigenous African spiritual practices that encouraged to an extent, a healthy lifestyle, and from an early age, I was exposed to such.
His spiritual choice was influenced by his father, who held an authoritative position in the indigenous spiritual practice. I believe it is that early exposure that shaped me to having an open mind to new elements that came my path. Though my family was not all involved in African spiritual practices, most of them possessed African pride and consciousness, trying their best to implement what that meant to them in all areas of their lives, including their health.
The lifestyle choices of my family present a clear juxtaposition. According to psychologist, William James theory our conscious behavior is adaptive and is influenced by the environment. One specific scenario displayed in my family can plainly debunk this theory. My great grandfather and great grandmother both lived a life opposite to that which is conducive of good health; my great grandfather was an alcoholic and a heavy smoker whilst my great grandmother consumed foods like pork and wild meat regularly, amongst other unhealthy foods.
Nothing was done to counteract the effects of this lifestyle. He died from prostate cancer and she, from lung cancer. The contradiction is shown when my grandfather lives a life that does not reflect that of his parents. His daily meal was always a bowl of whole wheat dumpling, lentil peas and for his desert raisins. His choice of eating was ridiculed by most who visited us but I always enjoyed his food, especially the raisins. His morning routine was waking up before dawn and lifting weights, in his early sixties. He was known for walking and frequently relied on his feet as his means of transportation to long distances. Because of this, he was appointed the name Johnny Walker.
Growing up, not once had I seen my grandfather nor mother sick or ill. As a matter of fact, it was strange to witness the sight of sickness on other persons. I only recall active and vibrant adults in my household. Besides my grandfathers disciplined lifestyle, my mother also lives a health conscious life. She has mentioned to me once, that it was her fathers encouragement that made her aware and focused on the importance of her health. She implemented that value into my life from the day of my birth to now. During my childhood, there were several types of food that was prohibited from my diet; meats, cheese and juice. Yes, I was not allowed to even drink juice, only water. Because of this, the taste of meat and juice always peaked my curiosity, leading me to take actions that sometimes disobeyed. The exclusion of these foods was not only because our budget couldnt permit it but because my mother has always been someone concerned and conscious of her health and mine. She also holds on to the image of her reaching her eighties, looking like a thirty-year-old woman. This vision, of course, pushes her to live as healthy as possible. Just like my grandfather, she engages in her weekly exercise routine of cardio circuits.
On the other side of my family (my grandmothers) is a slight inversion to that of my grandfathers health customs. My grandmother lives a sedentary lifestyle, acquiring no motivation to exercise and be active. When it comes to her diet, however, she is particular with how and what she eats; for example, she no longer includes salt in her meals. I do not pay much attention to her lifestyle now, as we reside far away from each other and I am more involved in my grandfathers life than my grandmothers.
Receiving a microscopic view on the health patterns of my family, presents little concerns or issues in my life. Recently, I discovered that my grandmother has diabetes and so does my uncle. I am unsure of the cause; whether it is genetic or based on lifestyle habits. However, because of the unhealthy practices of them both, there is a high possibility of lifestyle choices being the cause.
I was never worried of being diagnosed with diabetes, though it may be genetic. This lack of fear was and is simply because of my healthy maintenance of my diet and lifestyle. My awareness of my grandmothers condition, though it does no worry me, does instill a stronger realization of the importance of taking care of oneself. Though the effects of shameless habits may not show immediately, it certainly will come to the surface as the years go by.
Staying inactive was never a custom in my life. From an early age, my mother enrolled me in swimming which I attended twice a week at YMCA. Because finances were limited, walking to our destinations was a frequent activity. Walking from home to my primary school (St. Ursulas Girls Anglican Primary School) which was a half hour journey and back home. On the days I had swimming, my mother and I even used to walk to YMCA. In both Primary Schools that I attended, St. Ursulas and later on Carenage Girls, I was enrolled in track and field.
Enforcing physical activities to this day is still a huge part of our daily lives. I no longer live with my grandfather but he maintained his health rituals. Of course, because he is much older now, he is unable to exert himself as much as he did when he was in his late fifties. Recently, he mentioned to me Salima, getting older is hard because there are things you want to do but your body does not allow you to do it.
Currently, I live in a household with my mother, step father and two siblings. Physical activities is not something stressed upon, however, I am a dancer. Dancing is an art form that requires full body strength and fitness. Considering the fact that I have sciatica, I push myself even more in that field because of the intense pain I feel when immobile.
As may be clearly noticed by now, my mother is the one that manages the household and because of that, there are certain rules that my siblings and I must follow surrounding our diet. They are as follows:
Every morning, we must drink three cups of warm water
Wait an hour before eating a fruit and then a small meal
Every month or two months, we must purge our system especially if within that gap, a lot of junk was consumed.
A recent implementation that was introduced in our diet was the intake of Vitamin C powder after drinking our three cups of warm water. Her immediate praxis is resorting to anything that is organic and natural.
Living a lifestyle like this, I must admit is complex and requires much discipline which at times I am unable to live up to all the time.
However, because Ive grown accustomed to this way of living, straying from my regular routine is not prolonged. I always seem to realign myself. I sometimes find myself taking the importance of health for granted, knowing that because of my mother and her supervision of the household health disciplines, I wont have position myself in a drastic situation.
My stepfather does not follow these rules of the house because he has a different approach to health. He grew up with encouragement from his parents, to eat without care and he never parted with that philosophy. It is only when something physical happens, he would change his diet until his body returns to its normal state.
It is not only our diet and physical activities we focus on to maintain health but the frequent use of our devices. After looking at a video from (insert video and year here) which explains the radiative dangers we as human beings are exposed to daily, we became conscious of how often our devices are used. For approximately twelve years, we have not been using a microwave to warm our foods. Instead, we heat it on the stove. When our phones are charging, it cannot be in use. The laptop must not be directly on our laps; it must be placed on the table. Every night, all electronics such as the televisions, phones and plugs are switched off, not to preserve energy but to disallow the circulation of current flowing while we are asleep. Once, before it was lost, my mother purchased two volcanic rock necklaces (the name of it, I cannot recall at the moment) for she and myself to wear when in front of the computer or watching television. This necklaces main purpose was to block radiation. There have come with these cancer prevention practices, great benefits; one of it being an increase in energy levels. Also, cancer prevention practices can also be seen in our diet, for instance; the elimination of granulated brown or white sugar we only use honey and the limitation of consumption of salt and flour in our diet. A bonus to that is the absence of alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco in our diet.
Reading this, one would think that we have it all covered when it comes to proper holistic life planning, but certainly, that isnt true. There are certain home safety measures we ignore or disregard. Within our home, there isnt a fire extinguisher, in case of an emergency. There are no drills or plan for a storm or hurricane. Unfortunately, it is only when there is a warning, we would prepare for that.