My own health journey really started to take shape about 5 years ago. Growing up I was an extremely picky eater – my diet consisted mainly of cheerios and bowls of peas. When middle school and puberty came around my diet was awful, only a short time before my body and spirit started to reflect the fast food, processed sugars, and late night snacks in bed. My confidence dived to an all time low (middle school is not an easy period of life to begin with) and I developed acid reflux, eczema, and discovered I had asthma.
Thankfully, I was in the care of a great doctor who would offer non invasive suggestions for my diet as well as exercises suitable for this newfound asthma. Much of my other support was offered in this phrase “You will grow out of this, you will grow tall and thin out.” That didn’t necessarily give me a foundation to build on but more so added to the confusion I was already experiencing. When high school rolled around well, they were right I did grow tall and started to thin out and I wanted it to stay that way but how? And why?
SO much emphasis was put onto how I looked much less onto how I felt. Freshman year I would sometimes skip lunch – or one time as I remember my mom dropped me off a bag filled with a variety of delicious foods but I gave it to a friend because I started seeing food as the enemy. Skipping meals didn’t last long, being a competitive rower, well, made me really hungry. Surely being dizzy and weak was not comfortable either. I ate really well throughout the rest of high school with the help of my moms wonderful home cooked meals and making protein focused snacks for the crew team. I felt well-balanced, mind and body.
Still lacking the knowledge and connection to myself, I made the venture to Colorado to attend college where eating was a priority but what I ate wasn’t the primary focus. There was still the disconnect of food as fuel – how does this meal make me feel?
Cheap, quick , and easy are just as they sound! ((Fast Forward))
My fiance and I were living on the east coast right off of a 4-lane highway working full-time while also learning the balance of bills, nourishment, fun etc. It was hard, we bought boxed food from the dollar store and cheap fast food. I will also admit that coming from the small town in CO with no fast food chains we went a little crazy with all those quick, cheap options.
Besides starting to recognize how terrible my body felt with little exercise and little knowledge of what my body needed. There were two defining moments I recall really opening the door for both my fiance and myself to jump through. He came home from a laborious day of work and stated that the food he was eating added little to no value to his wellbeing, he started throwing the word organic around and whole foods (not the store).
Everything he expressed made perfect sense. How can we achieve wellness without putting in the work to get there? While it was incredibly eye-opening it was also a bit daunting. Where do we start? Secondly, a friend of mine (who I would nag to quit smoking) said she would quit smoking if I quit eating fast food with the added “its harder than it sounds.” Well, that surely opened my eyes to my reality, my true reality which looking back I felt blind to until it was put in front of me in a way that was hard to digest (just like the food I was eating) and desperately needed to be addressed.
It didn’t happen over-night!
We started reading more about what our bodies needed, when they need it, and why they need it and most importantly learned to listen to our own systems. Starting to experiment on ourselves, we began with everyday smoothies. Fruit, filtered water, hemp protein, greens, chia, flax – with that small change our energy increased, and we slept better. We began to cook our own meals regulalrly, very simple things like potatoes and spinach as it can be easy to become overwhelmed by all that is out there when you journey toward wellness.
We then decided to start growing as much of our own food and herbs as possible. Our ground soil needed a lot of work so my fiance built raised boxes to grow in as well as window boxes for our herbs. Not only were we transforming our health but our backyard on the corner of a four lane highway became a sanctuary overflowing with life. It became a place I wanted to inhabit just like my body.
As time passed we learned about composting and started our own, we also learned about eating from local sources as well as seasonal eating. Really excited about this new path we connected with a couple local farmers and local small health food stores to continue, deepen, and expand our understanding. The benefit of each small step toward the betterment of ourSelves was astounding.
For the first time I was able to identify which foods caused my acid reflux to flare. Before I was given a sheet of which foods were irritants for acid reflux but here I was making the connection myself. This was a big feat considering I refused to take prescribed medicines and felt affirmation that I was healing myself in more ways than I could count.
All aspects of my life were shifting by addressing one area that needed change. I felt wonderful, my body responded intensely to all this love it was receiving, and my spirit was thriving. Thriving from the awareness I had gained of how to care for myself, my whole self.
With all the focus on inside health I started to look at all the products I was putting on my skin and within weeks had changed all of that too. I no longer died my hair, started using coconut oil to moisturize and shave, and invested in Tarte makeup. I felt like a flower in its season of bloom, growing, and cultivating new soil to support that growth.
One step at a time
In this season of change I felt so strong, rooted. Unexpectedly, my Goddess mother passed away from cancer and my world was shifted in a way I did not recognize. She was an intricate thread in my web, a pillar. I began walking everyday in hopes to be able to grab onto something to pull me out of my grief. It worked in a big way. I felt myself rising through the depths of the lost world. The first month or so I would walk and cry. I felt safe to let it all go there. I felt nurtured by nature, spirit, and self.
When I intially learned of this passing, I wondered if I had the strength to carry on my journey of wellness or if I would let my sadness deplete the rest of me but it gave me the opportunity to dive deeper into myself. Old pain sifted through the surface giving me an opportunity to separate it from my current experience, finding ways to let it flow through me. I had to keep growing or swimming as I often said because I certainly wasn’t going to drown but needed to incorporate new ways to achieve wellness on this ever-changing route.
The rest of the time spent living on the east coast I walked at that special place everyday. Rain or shine. It became a walking meditation. My spirit was finding comfort in my body again.
Eventually this lead to me practicing asana first in the comforts of my own home with Rodney Yee as my teacher on the screen. I practiced everyday and walked everyday finding that for me practice, commitment, and dedication helped keep me grounded while also exerting unneeded but built up energy.
Today, we do things everyday that seemed so far out when we started this journey. For example, we oil pull every morning, drink apple cider vinegar w/ water 3 times a day, eat a vegetarian diet, have a beautiful compost system that produces compost tea and beautiful soil (aka worm castings)! We have even started our own company where we are able to share and exchange knowledge with our clients through gardening, diet, and composting.
I have a wonderful relationship with food and cooking has become one of my very favorite creative outlets. Changing my perspective toward food, exercise, and wellness was probably one of the first and hardest steps for me. To cross the threshold into exploration, curiosity, and even fun while leaving behind the tinted glasses that made this venture appear to be that of a chore.
I continue to practice (yoga + mindfullness) and walk regulalrly while also honoring where I am that day so it changes depending on how I feel. It’s freeing to let go of one idea of health, wellness, exercise and so on. Holding on can hold us hostage while letting go gives room for growth.
All things are a journey, there will always be more to know. Little by little, step by step, it will shift it, will evolve with you. We all deserve our own attention and love. Have fun and keep things light!