I then interviewed Kehlani for an episode of In Conversation for my employer, TIDAL and her stance on plant-based diets and its spiritual gains really stuck with me. “I’ve been plant-based for about seven months mostly because it’s for health reasons and for spiritual reasons of when you intake something that died in a painful way, regardless of if you acknowledge it or not, that energy is going inside [of you]. And I feel so much lighter, not only physically but spiritually lighter. I don’t feel like I’m carrying energy that I can’t put my finger on,” she said.
After ending 2017 on an emotionally shitty note, that soundbite was my call-to-action. Sure, I had binged documentaries like What The Health? on Netflix and consequently tried leading a plant-based diet for two weeks last year only to fall prey to pizza, my cheesy Kryptonite. Throw in the fact that I’m Filipino and even uttering an abstinence from meat sounds like you are revoking Catholicism to your lechon-loving family members.
As much as I believe that resolutions should be a life-long affair, I decided that a new year would be the ripe opportunity for me to hit reset. I started researching vegetable-only recipes that wouldn’t make a culinary novice like myself shy away from whipping it up in the kitchen. For my first attempt at meal prepping in 2018, I actually made oven-baked sriracha tofu and cauliflower stir fry but OD’d on the soy sauce. Full disclosure: It was not fun eating five days worth of that salty, soy-ful veggie medley, but I’d already committed to taking the L on sodium intake versus eating anything meat-based. I was proud of myself for shoveling only veggies into my system that week and the weeks that followed even when temptation in the form of halal, Shake Shack, pernil and even WingStop lemon pepper wings (with Rick Ross himself) surrounded me.
My biggest concern about the dietary change was feeling deprived. Full disclosure #2: I still treated myself on occasion. I spaced out servings of veggie pizza, chocolate-y treats that my mom brought home from Japan, a few libations in the form of red wine or D’Usse cocktails, and seafood. As a one-month “aspiring vegan,” I wasn’t going to crucify myself for moderate indulgences. Those caloric luxuries aside, I was amazed by my willpower, whether out with friends or at work events where meat was the brunt of the menu.
That discipline translated into my workout life, too. I started trading up my happy hours for Class Pass credits and going H-A-M in the two-week free trial, hitting up yoga class one night then Cyc Fitness spin class the next. The following week, I spent Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at a morning boxing class at Title Boxing Club in my native Queens then tried an Aerial Hoop class at Body & Pole in New York City that weekend. I did all of these classes solo dolo, too, and felt this newfound confidence coursing through my body like an almond milk protein smoothie.
The Aerial Hoop (Lyra) session was a nod to the promise I made to take a class that scared the hell out of me. The beginner level 90-minute course was borderline learning how to be a performer in Cirque du Soleil. Not only should your core and upper body strength be the equivalent of a 100 emoji, you’re hanging upside down and spinning on a metal circle before trying to use your body weight as momentum to get your bum to sit on it. It was an intimate class of four other people of all fitness levels, who were supportive of one another, while the instructor’s soundtrack featured The Weeknd so every bit helped.
As if maneuvering through a circular apparatus that hung from the ceiling wasn’t adventurous enough, I then tried to channel my inner super athlete by booking a Cryotherapy session. For the uninitiated, cryotherapy is primarily used to treat tissue damage, relieve stress and improve blood circulation. It involves stepping into a chamber where cold substances like liquid nitrogen essentially hug your body.
I hit up CryoGuru in New York City thanks to a Groupon discount to see what the hype, co-signed by athletes like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, was about. Of course, it didn’t help that reports during my Google search about people getting injured, including a woman dying from it, popped up right before I signed my second release of liability form that day.
I pushed fear to the side, though, and did as instructed: remove all clothing, slip on thick cotton socks and two pairs of gloves (protects the delicate skin under your feet and on your hands from the freezing temps) then stepped into the chamber as Nick Jonas’ “Bom Bidi Bom” featuring Nicki Minaj played. As a lover of hot showers (my boyfriend calls me “the devil” each time I soak), I didn’t feel like I was freezing to death as the liquid nitrogen bath eventually went down to -220 degrees. It doesn’t last longer than three minutes (you’re advised not to do it any longer than that, according to most Cryotherapy websites) and you know my naked tush was dancing to keep from getting frostbite. Before I knew it, the session was a wrap. Blood felt like it was circulating with ease and my muscles weren’t as sore post-Aerial Pole. Would I try it again? Hell to the yes, but I’d probably just switch up the soundtrack to Nelly’s “Hot In Herre” for irony’s sake.
While it’s only been 31 days since I took an oath to cleaner living, I already feel like a better woman. I also cut my long curly locks into a poofy bob on December 31, which could have contributed to this “New Year, New Delle” glow-up. But ever since I started making smarter choices about my diet and really adhering to a workout schedule, the quality of my life has improved vastly. My blood pressure is at a healthy level now, and though I haven’t and don’t plan to check the scale, I feel light on my toes, dancing DJ Khaled style. I’ve applied Gandhi’s wise words, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” to all aspects of my life, and while I’m sure I will F up at some point, there’s no shaking this optimism that the best version of me isn’t too far away.