I have always been a food nerd, but after I had a baby in my late 30’s what had been my hobby turned into a full-time ordeal. The painful bloating, gas, depression, back pain, and skin issues I had come to believe were my normal became more intense than I was willing to deal with. Before I knew it, I weighed more than I ever had aside from my pregnancy (even though I had initially lost the baby weight). This weight wouldn’t budge for more than 3 years despite hours of daily exercise and what I thought was a healthy diet.
Although I had dealt with some of these issues for most of my life, everything had intensified. The bloat that had historically given me a food baby bump every time I ate became painful. My bathroom habits were unpredictable (if you know what I mean). I was constantly tired, impatient, and generally not a nice person. And why wasn’t the weight budging? Wasn’t running 20 miles per week and eating all the rabbit food good enough?
Doctors were blowing me off, so I thought I was overreacting. I felt a bit silly and vain complaining about 20 pounds of extra weight and a bit of stomach trouble. I’m tall, so I hide it well, but I didn’t feel comfortable in my body. What about my fatigue? What about the digestive issues? The depression? The back pain and achy joints? I was working out more and eating healthier than anyone else I knew, but I still felt like crap. I wasn’t taking “you’re getting older” or “well, you’re a busy mom” as valid explanations. Something had to change.
Through tons of independent research, personal reflection, trial and error, and taking the necessary courses to certify as both yoga teacher and a holistic health coach, I am finally getting some answers about my issues. It turns out I was exercising too much and my diet, although healthy, wasn’t right for me. I also learned that I didn’t like myself all that much and some of my coping mechanisms weren’t serving me any longer. I needed to learn how to take better care of myself so I could take better care of the people who depended on me.
I started eating right for my body and practicing better self-care and my symptoms started clearing up. Ten of the 25 stubborn pounds I had gained melted away. The gas that had always been bad, which I had believed was a family trait, suddenly wasn’t there anymore. I didn’t even know my red, sensitive skin was due to a food sensitivity until it went away. I thought it was just how my skin was. My hair growing back was also an unexpected bonus. My back pain, while still there, is no longer incapacitating.
Best of all, the mental change I noticed when I started eating right for me and taking better care of myself was profound. My motivation, clarity of mind, creativity, and outlook on life improved tenfold. I don’t think I would have been able to keep up with both mom life and work life before cleaning up my act.
Depression has been something I have struggled with my whole life. There were days when I physically couldn’t get out of bed. I would run hot and cold, some days feeling so irritated that I couldn’t stand myself. This put a strain on my work life and my relationships. There are still days when I feel low or irritable, but now those days are few and far between and I have healthy ways of nourishing myself through them when they appear.
While I still have some unexplained issues with bloating and fatigue, I now feel able to face them with an empowered attitude. I know there are sensible solutions and I no longer feel helpless.
While discovering this knowledge about myself, I realized that others could benefit from the process as well. So many things I have learned the hard way through years of trial and error I can give you right now. Such as, it really is about progress, not perfection. If you are 1% better tonight than you were this morning, that’s a win. There are stages and steps on this health journey and everyone’s journey is different. Start where you are right now. Just do one thing better today. Then one more thing next week, and so on until you’ve reached the best possible version of yourself.
Wellness isn’t about how much you weigh, what you eat, what you do for exercise or even macronutrient percentage. It is how you feel about yourself and the food on your plate. Gaining weight isn’t a moral failing or a lack of willpower. You aren’t broken.
Living your own nourished life means asking, “Is this what I am really hungry for?” “Is this the good stuff or just stuff?” Maybe you aren’t hungry for food. Maybe you’re hungry for companionship or a creative outlet. This sort of thinking means being truly nourished in your mind, body, and spirit every day. This is what wellness means to me.