We all learn our food pyramid in grade school right? We should know that vegetables and fruit are healthiest. Of course anything with sugar is bad (but oh so good to those taste buds and chemical reactions in the brain).
But when did you REALLY start wondering about healthy food or just a healthy lifestyle in general? Were you sick and needed to change your diet? How about to train for a race or to make a team? Was a friend or loved one in the "nutrition" world and fed - maybe sometimes forced fed (pun intended) you information about what you should eat or what you should avoid?
If I really looked back on when I started to truly "learn" about healthy food and a healthy lifestyle it does begin with one vivid memory.
BIG CITY LIVING
I just landed the job of a lifetime after college working in fashion in New York City. Picture a west village high-rise, doorman entrance apartment complex overlooking the Hudson River. I am in a small office room (probably the size of my whole studio apartment I actually lived in and could afford at the time) and about to heat up my lunch. I enter the beautiful, bright and modern kitchen to get my homemade lunch out of the fridge with plans to shovel it down back at my computer. Of course it's in a plastic container as I *gasp* go to the microwave to heat up yesterday's leftovers. I hit the start button and one of my bosses comes rushing over, stops it and immediately tells me I could get cancer this way. Mind blown.
Although my first career was assisting CEOs, fashion designers and celebrities ~ and albeit far from a healthy lifestyle ~ it was the little things that I picked up from these jobs that exposed me to true health. My physical being was in a high stress, competitive "dream" job (far from glamorous) that every girl thought she wanted, but my higher self was still trying to guide me to raising my vibration and improving my whole being physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Whether it was learning what "ghee" was, meeting top personal trainers or yoga masters, tasting fresh pressed juices for the first time, seeking a hidden Chinese herbalist’s shop, learning about the best food and restaurants the city had to offer, or finding books by Deepak Chopra on bookcases. Little did I know these little "treasures" of knowledge would eventually become my second career.
So, yes, I am the cliché story of worked in the city, got married then moved to the suburbs and bought a farmhouse in the country. I admit I secretly read books about homesteading while on my commute to work and how to start a part-time food business.
Fast-forward a few years later to a pregnant self, I found myself working in a holistic wellness center an hour outside of Manhattan. Talk about eye opening on what TRUE health means for yourself, your baby and your family. Hello midwives, doulas, pregnancy circles, lactation specialists, birthing plans, whole food pregnancy diets, and anxious, happy yet naïve feelings to what motherhood will be like (I'll totally catch up on everything during maternity leave...HAH).
When I became pregnant and when my son was born so was the all-consuming motivation to fully learn and achieve the natural, healthy parenting lifestyle.
However, you can plan all you want and life (or the universe) will still step in and throw you off balance just to keep things interesting. The fourth trimester hit me hard with postpartum depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, nursing challenges like mastitis, clogged ducts, infant lip-tie/tongue-tie, slow weight gain, nursing-in-public shame, maternity leave expectations vs. reality, pumping and returning to work, low supply, mom guilt, etc. (if you are a mama and especially a breastfeeding mama, you get this). The icing on the cake was after following a healthy pregnancy and nursing diet, I finally fed my 6-month-old his very first solid food and he immediately had an allergic reaction. Then came the eczema or unexplained atopic dermatitis (aka “no idea where this is coming from so your guess is as good as mine.”). Queue the tears and anxiety all over again.
Like all mothers, I brushed it off, counted my blessings and figured out a game plan. I researched food allergies, sensitivities and natural remedies more than the FBI. Through whole foods, eating clean, elimination diets, healing his gut (more coming in the future on this) and TIME (patience mama – you’ll get there) he is finally cleared of all eczema and down to just a few sensitivities and two allergies.
SEEING THE LIGHT & FINDING STRENGTH
In my last post I wrote about finding your way out of the dark. My personal journey to balance and keeping my sanity while staying true to myself is starting to become much clearer. I say “personal” because everyone’s journey looks different. It won’t be the same as mine. And I hope and pray we find balance together, however that may look like for you.
Balance doesn't mean doing everything perfectly at the same time. It doesn't mean being the perfect mom, wife, daughter, employee or boss. It is choosing every day to love yourself and find joy in the day. Setting realistic daily goals for yourself and stop with the impossible expectations. It is choosing what will best serve you that day, month, year or even moment (sometimes breathing and getting through each moment is what is necessary).
I choose the alternative health route for my own health and the health of others. My son, my husband, my family and friends. It may not be perfect, but I set my realistic goals depending on my season of life and what I can accomplish. Being gentle with myself and my journey has helped me move forward and find new ways to find health and joy.
So whatever ~ or whoever ~ first introduced you to true health please take a moment to stop and thank them, whether through a note or prayer. Without their influence your journey and life would not be the same. In the end, we are all here to help one another and learn from each other. I know I am eternally grateful for every single boss, colleague, friend, relative and the lessons they taught me. So if you are reading this and have been a part of my life in some shape or form ~ I am sending love and thanks your way.