By Chelsea Royer
Valentina Golod’s soft, Russian accent and cheerful smile make her a warm presence to be around. She believes that long, 10 second hugs are vital to health and happiness so upon entering her home, you will be greeted with a friendly embrace. A young homeschool mother of four, you’re likely to hear the scampering of her children’s feet as she leads you to her kitchen where she spends many hours a week cooking up meals and gifts for her friends and family.
Valentina is what some may call a “health nut.” Her health journey began with almost fanatic reading, studying, and attempts to implement everything she learned.
“Eleven years ago, I had some back issues and my massage therapist was really into health and nutrition,” says Valentina. “It was then I read my first book on the topic, ‘The Good Health Garden Book.’” After that, Valentina’s book collection exploded. “The more books I accumulated, the more fanatic I’d become. I even read while I ate so I’d be less tempted to eat things that were bad for me,” Valentina admits.
“My husband got sick with ulcers and from what I learned, I was able to cure him naturally,” she says. But what began as a fun hobby turned into a stressful obsession. “I got ulcers myself from all the stress. I realized that I needed to re-prioritize. Knowing too much to implement is stressful. I realized it was more important to know the basics of what I was learning and to implement those every day rather than continuing to acquire knowledge.”
Today, Valentina feels she has developed a very balanced outlook on health and nutrition. Having gone from ignorance on the topic to religious rigidity, she’s been able to see the dangers in both ends of the spectrum. “I stopped reading for a year and actually began to process what I had been reading,” says Valentina. Today, she delights in sharing what she’s learned with others and practicing at-home natural healing methods through herbs and nutrition.
Outside of building a healthier family, Valentina has also taught health classes at her church and hosted “cook-offs” for the Harbor Calvary Chapel youth group. Being healthy is no longer about restrictions, it’s about fun, discovery, and quality of life. She believes the priorities of health and wellness should be in the following order:
- “Water is so important,” explains Valentina. “I know of one nutritionist who won’t even treat his patients until they’ve spent two weeks drinking appropriate amounts of water everyday. Much of the time, the health problems they experienced would go away without any further help from him.”
- Sleep and stress. “People don’t realize the incredible negative impact stress can have on your health. They think it’s mostly about food and are upset when they fail in that area, but so much of the real issue has to do primarily with water, sleep, and stress levels. Stress is much more than your environment, stress includes negative self talk, what types of friends you have, stressful movies, books, or music….and even deeper are the issues of bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger.” Finding a way to deal with these things, according to Valentina, is the first step for anyone’s health journey.
- Diet is a huge problem for most people. In an age of convenience where we’ve trained ourselves to live off of food that comes out of a package, it can be incredibly difficult to make the changes we know are necessary to our health. Valentina recommends starting slow. “It can be overwhelming and make you feel like a complete failure to go home and throw out everything in your fridge that’s unhealthy. Begin by making one change a week. Everytime you go to the grocery store, make one more healthy choice than you did the time before. Instead of margarine, buy organic butter. Instead of corn oil, purchase avocado or olive oil. Purchase more vegetables.” Valentina explains that the #1 most harmful food item in our homes is refined sugar. “In Russia, they call it ‘white death.’ Refined sugar is a huge reason why people get sick or gain weight.”
- Exercise and fresh air. Valentina believes that only a small amount of exercise is required each day to keep your body healthy. She encourages exercising outside to get fresh air and Vitamin D from sunshine.
Like with exercise, Valentina recommends beginning your journey one step at a time. Don’t go on a diet – make lifestyle changes. “Life gets hectic and when people cheat on their meal plans, they feel guilt and so they quit. Don’t give up. If you feel stress about eating cookies, the guilt and stress you feel is actually worse for your body than the cookies were. Just try again the next meal.”
Valentina encourages people to find balance and not to create stress about the changes they may need to make in their diet. “With kids, making changes can be especially hard. Make changes at home so that going out to eat once in a while isn’t a big deal. Work at changing one thing in your meal at a time and move at your kids’ pace,” suggests Valentina. “For instance, begin by giving your kids water instead of juice at dinner time. Avoid conflict over meals as much as possible. Again, that stress is worse for you than the food. Make a veggie plate while cooking so your kids are more prone to eat something good for them. When they’re hungry and waiting for dinner, they are far more likely to eat their veggies.”
Finding tricks that make implementing changes easy for you can save you time and stress. Valentina’s favorite resource is the Wellness Mama Blog and cookbook. Enjoy your health journey and let the new year motivate you to make healthy choices and fun discoveries!