Hey, everyone! I've noticed that lately there's been a large quantity of new followers and readers, and I just wanted to properly introduce myself (hello, beautiful people)!
As some of you may know, BlissBranch begun as a personal blog to kind of throw my daily thoughts and struggles out into cyber-space, always ending with a positive message and a focus on accepting and loving oneself: body, mind, and soul. This is a message I still stand firmly behind, and I believe that each and every one of us deserve health and happiness in every area of our lives, starting with accepting our bodies and loving them as a part of a whole.This post is going to be real, honest, and powerful for me to write and you to read.
*warning, some triggers may be present to those struggling with body image issues*
From a young age, I struggled with being one of the biggest kids in my class: tall and broad, and remarkably heavy (more in this blog post). I was diagnosed insulin resistant and also was hosting a little pituitary adenoma in my brain, which debatably was causing hormone and weight issues. I spent the majority of my childhood in and out of specialists offices, in addition to being bullied by the lovely little turd kids in my classes (sorry, not sorry if you were one of those turd kids).
Despite all of the medical mystery surrounding my pituitary adenoma, the bullying and constant parental and family pressure to "eat less" or only "eat healthy food" eventually resulted in me developing an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship with food.
I only looked for things that were "diet" (sugar-free, fat-free, reduced-fat, no sugar added), loading insane quantities of artificial sweeteners, fillers, dyes, preservatives, and chemicals into my system. I began losing weight this way, and not only losing it, but losing friends, losing menstrual cycles, losing many personality traits that made me, me. I was a walking, talking, weight-loss success. I was skin and bones, and I was so confused by what could be the "healthy" choice for what to eat next.
Eventually, I wound up in a doctor's office with severe hormone imbalance which resulted in panic attacks. As I tended to these panic attacks, I also began seeing a therapist and a dietician to help my transition to a healthier lifestyle. However, focusing on my food confusion seemed to make things harder on me. I was told to "listen to my body," but I had no idea what that actually meant; I was so out of touch with what my body wanted to tell me after suppressing it's desires for so long, that there's no way I could trust what I heard when I "listened" to it.
I met so many inspiring women during this stage of my life (namely, my dietician Sara Upson with My Signature Nutrition here in Tyler) and if anything, I finally regained the primal notion that food is fuel. Sounds so simple, but food had become this impossible equation of calories and percentages and it was hard to find my way out of that rabbit hole.
Diets don't work. Lifestyle changes work.
Forget what your best friend is doing. Forget what's all over Instagram. Eat what your body specifically needs. When you finally come to a point where you can listen to your body (if you're struggling as severely with your body signals as I was, sometimes you need professional guidance with this step), you can learn what foods work for you and what foods don't.
The most fun is getting to experiment with new foods and challenge yourself in getting away from what you think you know is "good" or "bad" for you (unless of course you're looking at the research that chemicals, dyes, and pesticides aren't food and are actually awful for your body, because I'm only talking about real food here).
Recently, I've learned one of my biggest lessons so far in listening to what my body was telling me. I had gone to the doctor with suspicions regarding my current thyroid state (which you can read more about here), and it was revealed later that week that my thyroid was low. Despite being prescribed medication, I decided to shift some things in my life before beginning the medication, and seeing if I felt better on my own. I began supplementing and focusing on aiming to consume more iron, protein, selenium, and B and D vitamins.
This shift also happened to coincide with my decision to temporarily stop going to hot yoga.
I know. What?! Yoga has always been my thing, my rock, my spiritual practice; a place where I could forget my cares and worries, feel my feelings, and do cool sh*t with my body! However, in the 110 Texas heat, the last thing I woke up wanting to do every morning was go do a few very still postures in a dark, sweaty, and stinky room.
Since I can remember, I've always adored and idolized the concept of being a yogi. I know, I know, if you have to work so hard to be something, it might not be your calling. And you know what?! I freaking love yoga. The problem was I yearned to be a healthy, fit, vegan yogi who was an avid recycler and re-user: an angel on earth.
Let me just say, as someone who sometimes struggles with perfectionism, trying to fit myself into a mold that just wasn't working, was wearing me down. I was having adverse effects with my practice; I was more stressed about my schedule, postures, diet, everything.
This is just my personal opinion! My body started speaking this to me a couple months before I decided to take a break, and when I finally considered the idea, it made so much sense. My anxious brain did still question things like: What are you going to do with your schedule for the day now? What if you don't get a good workout without going? What if everyone talks about you when you're not there? What if you aren't as chill anymore? What if you lose all flexibility and have to start all over when you go back? What if you never want to go back?!
If this reminds you of yourself, please just embrace me in a cyber-hug right about now.
I recognized that if I had this much internal debate and anxiety surrounding this decision, well then, I absolutely had to challenge myself with something new! I had to stop and see if I really could and would survive and find something else interesting.
The crazy thing? I freaking did. I started focusing on at-home bodyweight cardio workouts like Tabata and other High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts that could be completed in thirty minutes or less. Trimming down the thirty minutes it took to get to yoga, the thirty minutes it took to get home, and the hour that I spent sweating out my demons, to thirty minutes alone was a HUGE positive shift for me. My mornings freed up instantly!
My workouts were just as sweaty, just as challenging, and just as rewarding. I was doing things I'd never tried before, and I was loving moving my body! I felt like my energy was finally being channeled into a rewarding motion, literally: I was jumping and running, dancing and popping, planking and hopping. It went from being unbearably challenging to being fun and amazing.
By adding protein like eggs and legumes (that I've been told are toxic and inflammatory) to my already heavily vegetable-laden plate in addition to some occasional grass-fed and/or organic dairy (goat cheese, sharp cheddar, parm) and not consuming large quantities of sugar (even natural sugars), like smoothie/acai bowls, nice cream, and other things my body just didn't want, I was able to feel changes.
When eating a mainly raw, vegan diet, my stomach was almost always round, gassy and bloated. It was sometimes miserable by nighttime, finding me laying on my left side watching Netflix, sighing as I scrolled through social media seeing infinite sugary smoothie bowls and healthy women. That eating plan just did NOT mesh with my body, no matter how hard I tried to be perfect at it.
Now, I'm working out for short bursts everyday, enjoying my own balanced plate, and studying to help others with this concept of bio-individuality (each person and body has it's own dietary needs) with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a certified Integrative Health Coach.
I believe we can all tune in and listen when our bodies are talking. Sometimes, we need a little help, but I believe with the proper balance of healthy and positive relationships, arts, spirituality, and clear intentions, we can find a sweet spot where we can listen to our bodies, minds, and souls!
Stay tuned for more insights and posts regarding my journey, and feel free to share some of yours in the comments below!
*these are thoughts and opinions from my personal experience in my life, and should not be taken as medical advice*
To learn more about Integrative Nutrition, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org !