Story Time - How did I create my healthy lifestyle?
"Becoming physically healthier was my first step to self-love."
Before I really get started with my whole story I got stuck in my head I do have to say a healthy lifestyle is a lifestyle, meaning you'll have to get used to every aspect of it and never quit. It's not because you eat vegan salads, meditate and work- out for 3 months until you got your dream body that you can stop and it will all stay nice, tight, and healthy. It asks a change in your mindset. I've read somewhere that it takes 60 days to change a routine and 90 says to build a habit but keep in mind that habits must stay. With that being the preach of today, let's get started on the story I so desperately want to tell you.
When did it all start?
I'm into a healthy lifestyle since I became 17 years old, and I became more and more focused on my health: physically and mentally. At first, it started with eating healthier: eating an oat cookie instead of a chocolate bar and have some fresh orange juice when I was craving sugar instead of eating a bag of candies in an hour. Yes, you've read it correctly, I was this kid/teenager that could eat a one-kilogram-bag of candies in one hour and not feel sick at all! It was by far the most unhealthy part of my life. I also loved Mc Donald's (I wasn't always a mainly plant-based earthling) but we barely went and whenever we ate fries (as true and proud Belgians) I had to eat many different sauces till I ended up with a food coma for the rest of the day. Luckily, that all changed.
Becoming physically healthier was my first step to self-love: you are what you eat and if you're eating junk food, don't expect to feel happy. I started with changing my breakfasts: Kellogs got replaced by Quaker's oats, sugared yogurt became unsweetened yogurt and MinuteMaid got replaced by fresh oranges. I still remember mom used to juice out oranges in the morning. (Thank you, mom). Though I was still eating meat and fish, I already started to feel better and more energized than before.
How did it evolve?
In my early twenties, my food pattern changed more and more: I was obsessed with peanut butter sandwiches, I wanted to become vegan or vegetarian but I never really discussed it at home as it was seen as an impulsive decision rather than an actual well-thought plan of me. So I would start my day with fruit, a lot of fruit. I thought fruit would be the only thing that I needed to get through half of my days, so soon I ended up blending 5 pieces of fruit in a smoothie daily, and it was difficult to swallow it every single morning, but I pushed myself. I got sickly obsessed with working-out: I literally forced myself to work out on days I wasn't feeling like it, I was tired, I wasn't feeling good I became mad at myself for feeling that way and forced myself anyways to work-out or do yoga (bye-bye relaxing benefits of yoga).
I trained for months but I never saw any results, which made me feel even worse and mad at myself because I wasn't doing enough. Next to that I also worked my ass off for my study and I felt very responsible for the student council I was supposed to lead when communication was something my fellow student council members never really understood.
The danger of focussing on a healthy lifestyle
Of course, you already hear it coming, I cracked. One day I felt so bad I went to school anyways. After one class of two hours, my belly hurt too much and I was feeling too bad to stay at school for the other class. I somehow managed to get to my car and drive home without hitting anyone or anything. I'll skip the details but what followed was the worst belly flu I ever had in my life so far (and I'm really praying to never experience anything like that). After three days home, feeling like I got squeezed out like lemon and feeling too tired to even drink water, my parents drove me to E.R. where they immediately decided to keep me in the hospital for 4 days. When I laid there all I could think was: "Oh shit. What the f*** did I do to my body the past years?" I was in the same room as an old lady with cancer who was so nice I'd love to see her again one day (if I could). In those four days, talking to that lady and resting a lot I realized what horrible person I've been to myself. But I wasn't mad at me, it would only make things worse.
Did it ever change?
When I came home I guess I didn't touch a single piece of fruit in the next three months. I ate healthily, but I never became so obsessed anymore. I didn't train for a year, because I was too scared to become obsessed again. Self-care became more and more a priority: also the mental part. Still, it took me another couple of months and a stomach disease to realize my body had enough of it all. It's then, in January 2016 (or 2017) that I decided to quit my study, get a teacher training and focus on my mental health and train myself in becoming a master in self-care.
What about mental health?
The mental healthy lifestyle was really created through all of my (bad) relationship experiences. I would almost thank some guys for messing up the relationship because it gave me the insights I needed to understand how to love myself. But the real lesson became after surviving a trauma.
I believe physical health is easy for most people: 2/3 healthy foods, 1/3 sports, and in general maintaining an active lifestyle. But mentally, it's not that easy. So far I've learned that you should do what makes you feel good and stop doing whatever makes you feel uncomfortable. If others are bothered by it, it's their problem, not yours.
Still, it's easier said than done. I'm still learning myself to say 'no' if friends want to hang out but I'm feeling too tired or I need some recharging from social activities of the past week. There's no reason to feel guilty about it and if you explain it well, your friends will understand. By explaining I don't mean apologizing or finding excuses. If you're in a relation (friends or partner) where you have to defend every choice you're making: run!
Are there any things you find useful in this blogpost, or would you like to share your story in the comments or in the Facebook community: go for it! I'd love to connect with you.