The Journey To A Healthier Me
When I think of being healthy, I imagine it as a few things; I think of health as being ageless, having energy and being vibrant and alive. I think of health as an overall perception of feeling good inside and out and being free of diseases, ailments, aches and pains. Of course, we will all age, we will all experience some illness or disease and Father Time will come visit us eventually but I believe we get a say in how long we get to feel good before he does. I believe we were given these bodies to take care of and nurture, for they are the temple our soul resides in.
But..I didn’t always feel that way. I didn’t always look at things this way and my health was the last thing on my mind.
I grew up eating take-out for dinner and if there were “home cooked meals” they consisted of frozen foods and pizzas, pasta smothered with butter and salt and foods that had been fried to death leaking oil on my plate. Water was unheard of and in place of it was soda and 4C iced tea. When it came to fruits and vegetables I turned my nose at them. Corn was the only “vegetable” I would consume and chicken was a daily meal in any way shape or form. My go to for snacks was Doritos yodels and devil dogs. Oh boy did I love those devil dogs. I wouldn’t eat cake (even on my birthdays) but if there were devil dogs in the house, they were GONE.
Luckily, while my diet was horrible, I was always very active. I did gymnastics as a kid, played handball from sun up to sun down, walked up and down four flights of stairs daily in our apartment building and always worked out. I fought to be in the weight lifting classes in high school and always had weights in my room working out here and there. I always felt pulled to move and be active and because of that I stayed very slim for all of my teens to my early twenties.
Then, I got lazy. I found my career, a relationship and activity took a backseat to watching TV as soon as I got home from work. Take-out and eating out continued as I didn’t cook much and when I did it wasn’t healthy. Then, I gained about 40 pounds over the course of about a year. I can’t tell you if the depression or the weight came first but they were intertwined for sure. I felt defeated, lost, bored, unhappy and downright miserable. I wasn’t progressing and felt like my life was on pause. I looked in the mirror one day and hated not only what I saw, but how I FELT. This was not ME. This was not who I was. I was pre-diabetic, had stomach ulcers, gastritis, acid reflux, internal hemorrhoids and eczema on my arms. These ailments making there way around and in my body were enough to make me change.
So I cut out portion sizes of my foods, I stopped napping after I ate, I started to take long walks, I started to drink more water. The weight started to come off and I started to feel like myself again. I started to feel hopeful again and the sadness and unhappiness I was feeling began to fade. I went back to school because it made me feel like I was progressing at something and then made major changes in my life that would lead me eventually to a whole new life.
I began going to the gym daily, started to google healthy recipes and started wishing for a man in my life that I could grow with and get healthy with. Someone that wanted to get better and improve and that would maybe teach me a thing or two about a healthier lifestyle. And just as I asked it was given and the universe sent me this juicing, clean eating, obsessed with agelessness and health, gym rat man who is now my husband.
The very first documentary that he made me watch was “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and I was CONSUMED by it. That is all it took, one documentary to shift my whole perception of food. I started juicing, making smoothies and making more meals with greens and vegetable. I started to pack lunch daily instead of eating out. Everything started to change.
That documentary lead me to others like Forks over knives, Food Inc and so on and down the rabbit hole I went. I stopped eating chicken ( I had already given up beef about five years prior out of pure disgust by it all of a sudden.) I still ate dairy but most of my meals were now becoming full of vegetables, beans, pasta substitutes and soups. I would say I was doing pretty good, but I would get even better.
I left my long time job in the city because I wanted a change (I get in those moods once in a while and tend to act on them) and ended up working at a Nursing Home. As a physical therapist assistant I see a lot of illness but this…this was horrible. I came home crying daily. It was so sad, it was bringing my down and I knew it wasn’t the job for me but something amazing came out of it. I looked at these patients and contemplated how horrible it must be to be them. Here they were, bed ridden, sick, unhealthy, depleted, half-dead and I realized that most if not all were like this (some in their 60’s!) because of the daily choices they made (and didn’t make) throughout their lives. Eating unhealthy, not being active, not taking care of themselves lead them to living the remainder of their lives sitting in wheelchairs wasting away. This was not how I wanted to live the last thirty to forty years of my life and it drove me to want to be as healthy and vibrant as possible as soon as possible.
In my early thirties, I could see how fast life was ALREADY passing me by and I just did not want to be in there. Ever. It made me look at health from a different perspective and made me value my body and my health more than I ever did before. I started diving into learning more about ingredients and the power of foods and gut health. I learned how food effects our mood and body and I wanted to take back control of my body even more. I wanted to give it what it needed to thrive.
Along this road to health, becoming eventually primarily plant-based and consumed by learning more and more about how I could be as healthy as possible, a whole new world opened up to me. I came to be more spiritual, more awakened and aligned with God. Opportunities came to me that I could have never imagined and personal development and growth was something I needed in my life daily (and still do) . Somehow food and living healthier had connected me with the source within me. I felt clarity in my mind and my body, I felt sure of myself. I felt more alive than I had ever before and there wasn’t any going back. This was my lifestyle and it was going to remain that way and it has.
At 35, I am the healthiest that I have ever been. From cutting portions of the “bad food” to slowly replacing it with smoothies and juices and more vegetables, eating more from earth and less from boxes, learning about ingredients and how they effect my body, being mindful of what I put in my mouth and why I do so. I eat to fuel my body now and THAT has become enjoyment. Food is no longer my addiction, my go to when I need comfort. My health and vibrancy means more to me than a devil dog and food that weights me down (figuratively and literally.)
We have one body. One life. These bodies that we are borrowing for our time here on earth are going to either function at an optimal level giving us an amazing thriving life, or they are going to fail us. That choice is up to US. How we use our bodies, how we fuel our bodies and how we treat our bodies is a form of self-love or self-hate and God/source did not put us here to hate ourselves.
I can’t imagine how different my health and life would be if I didn’t take this path to a healthier lifestyle. I can’t imagine all of the medications I would be on, how depressed I would feel, how lonely and empty I would be, how many doctors I would be going to and how much pain I would be in.
This journey to a healthier me isn’t over and it never will be. My goal is to remain as young, vibrant and alive as I can be. My goal is to use this body and mind to expand, grow and get better. If we are not progressing, we are dying.
I want this life to be the best possible life that it could be and I want to see others make the same choice. I want everyone to see the value in themselves, in their lives, bodies, minds and souls. Our bodies are the gift our souls were given to thrive on this earth.
Let’s not ever take them for granted. Ever.
I know I never will again.