Where it all began
Five years ago, while making the long trip from Europe, back home to Melbourne, I found myself sitting in the Dubai International airport with quite a lengthy stopover ahead of me. I couldn’t help thinking about how my lifestyle could do with a drastic makeover.
I spent hours searching the internet, reading articles about green-smoothie drinking yogi’s who followed their passion for health and wellness and completely changed their lives in the process. I was intrigued. It never occurred to me that the health industry could be for me. By the time the stopover came to an end, I had ordered a stack of healthy cookbooks and a new blender and began researching nutrition courses available in Melbourne. The fire in my belly had been ignited and the possibilities thrilled me. What started out as a curiosity, turned into a complete lifestyle change.
Although I loved every minute of my two-year adventure in London, the final three month trip through Europe was a real turning point. We had partied our little hearts out, ate anything and everything in sight and it had taken a toll on my mind and body.
When I cast my mind back to my previous life-overhauls, I was convinced I was looking after my ‘health’, when in reality, all I was trying to do was lose weight. The focus was on being thin and looking good, rather than being healthy and feeling good.
WHAT WAS MY LIFE LIKE?
I had a negative relationship with food
It was never as simple as eating food to nourish my body. Instead, I let my emotions guide my food choices. I’m a fad-dieter from way back and would jump at any quick-fix that came my way. Detoxes, diet pills, calorie restriction, shakes… You name it, I’ve tried it.
I was over-exercising
I was under the impression that the more I hit the gym, the thinner I would be and, in turn, the happier I would feel. I was running myself ragged and started to dread exercise. It started back in high school when spending 2-3 hours at the gym was the norm.
I was partying alot
Staying up all night dancing, binge-drinking and pushing the limits was not uncommon for my weekends. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of fun, however, after awhile your body takes that little bit longer to bounce back.
I was drinking far too much coffee
I was jacked up on caffeine. It was my daily vice and it kept me going. I relied on it to get me through the day, even though I’d constantly feel on edge.
I was constantly stressed and anxious
No wonder! Looking at my lifestyle I am not surprised at all. There was a period of time where I would wake each day with an anxious rock in my stomach. My body was giving me some pretty serious warning signs and I wasn’t listening.
Doesn’t paint such a nice picture, now does it?
SO, WHAT HAS CHANGED?
I’ve learnt a fair bit in the last few years. I began studying a Bachelor of Health Science for Nutritional Medicine and have an insatiable hunger for knowledge. Bit by bit I started making changes.
The guiding principles that made all the difference for me:
I’m healing my relationship with food
I take responsibility and pride for how I feed my body. I eat a plant-based diet, focusing on whole foods and slowly I’m releasing the complications I created. I believe indulgences are a part of a healthy life. Deprivation is not.
I’ve embraced self-love
This is a big one! And also, the one I find the most challenging. It’s no small feat enabling full-bodied, wholehearted and loving acceptance of ourselves (exactly as we are right now!). It takes time and I’m still working on it to this day.
I enjoy moving my body
I’ve transitioned away from being a cardio junkie and I now love to do a mixture of HIIT circuits and yoga. I’ve even added in a blissful weekly yin class in for good measure. I take a much more gentle approach to my fitness these days and I’ve fallen back in love with exercise. I no longer dread a sweat session, I actually look forward to them!
I am learning to listen to my body
Our bodies are communicating with us in every moment of every day, even if we choose not to listen. I am discovering my own intuition and learning to trust myself.
I focus on adding positives
Instead of focusing on restrictions and removing things from my diet and lifestyle, it’s more so about ‘crowding in’ with as many positives as possible. I’ve brought into my life more the little things that make me feel great and add that extra splash of joy. Lighting beautifully scented candles when I’m home. Wearing my favourite clothes that make me feel beautiful. Making time for the yoga classes. Adding vibrant greens at every meal. Trying new mouth-watering recipes each week. Over time, all of these wonderful things add up to a pretty special life.
I’m releasing perfectionism
I may not make perfect choices all the time, and that’s ok. Instead of living with an all-or-nothing mentality, I now embrace balance and moderation. Choosing health is something you have the opportunity to do hundreds of times a day. And it’s unrealistic to expect perfection.
I stopped looking externally for happiness
I enjoy my own company. In fact, I now crave it. I am in control of my own happiness and that that’s a pretty powerful realisation.
This healthy lifestyle is not a passing phase. The changes I’ve made are for life.