I love helping other people. It is selfish, really, because the feeling I get from helping others is so wonderful that it really comes back and benefits me. I’m on the road to fulfilling my spiritual purpose, which is exciting and scary at the same time. By putting myself out into the internet world, I am embracing vulnerability that I was previously uncomfortable with. So now I’m going to jump right in…This site is a fruition of my decision to take positive action and control over my view on life. I’ve struggled with depression and weight issues since I was 15. I would get depressed about how I looked and depressed about how no one seemed to care about the planet. Shortly after I turned 21, there was one sunny day where all I did was lay in bed, so depressed that I remember thinking, “I don’t care if I live a very long life, because I don’t think I can stand to watch this planet get destroyed.”
That was the worst I’ve ever felt. Part of the reason is that I have a thyroid disorder, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I was unintentionally harming my body by eating lots of carbs and sugar, and that created a terrible cycle when combined with depression. I now follow a gluten, dairy, and soy-free diet, and my body is LOVING it. My brother calls it “the side effects of eating healthy”, and it is what motivates me to create awesome food that I don’t feel any shame or guilt about eating. Removing those foods from my diet also alleviated my depression. It created a positive cycle – I felt better, so it was easy to exercise, and exercising motivated me even more to eat healthier. Now some people feel sorry for me because I can’t eat certain foods, but I always say, “Don’t! I feel so much better, mentally and physically, that I am grateful that I found out about my food allergies. Now I can run marathons!”
I hesitated at first to share my specific issues, because I want to share good food with everyone. Just because I have a restricted diet doesn’t mean that it should be restricted to only gluten-free, dairy-free, or soy-free people. It just means that everyone can be included in the meals that I make.
I cringe when I look back at photos and see how big I was. I think what bothers me the most is I associate my heaviness with how depressed I was (I’m sorry, I can’t give specific pounds and sizes yet. That is a little too raw and open right now). My family and friends always loved me no matter what my size, and I knew that all along, but I didn’t love myself. I feel like I lost so many experiences because I stayed shut up in my own world, thinking I was alone in wanting to help the planet and thinking that I wasn’t good enough to be skinnier. This has been a path to self-love and embracing the joys of life, not just weight loss.
Somehow, with the help of some amazingly supportive friends, I started to make tiny changes. I would eat half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, not the whole thing. I ate really carby things only twice a day, then once a day. I started tap dancing again. I went to the gym once a week, then twice a week, and three, four times a week. I got a personal trainer and worked out on my own. I eliminated processed foods and fast food from my diet. I started making desserts with whole foods, eliminating refined sugars in favor of honey and maple syrup. Then I found out I had food allergies. I embraced gluten-free living. Dairy-free and soy-free followed suit. I noticed how much better I felt if I didn’t have sugar, so I gave up cane sugar entirely. I used only agave nectar and coconut palm sugar. At the moment, I am totally sugar-free, using only stevia or fruit to sweeten desserts.
When people hear that I’ve let go of sugar, they immediately think I am some terribly self-disciplined fiend. No way! Please please believe me when I say I am still working on self-control issues. The reason I let go of sugar is because I wanted to be free of the cravings, irritability, and crashes that came when I ate sugar. Two years ago my brain said “Never! I need sugar.” My body, however, let me know that it wasn’t good for me to eat it, and now I can’t imagine going back. I believe that we think too much and consequently don’t feel enough. We think we need sugar, rather than noticing how we crash after having it or have mood swings, increased irritability, and just feel terrible. We think life without bread and pasta must be barren and hopeless, without realizing that feeling healthy and alive is worth more than any baked good. In the rare moments I do have a craving for something, I first consider how it will make me feel after I eat it. Usually that nips any unhealthy craving in the bud. Most of my cravings come from being tired or out of sorts, not a genuine hunger-driven need anyway. When we overthink – and lord am I guilty of this one – we can’t tune in to what our body is feeling and our intuitive response to food.
Now I care most about being healthy rather than being a specific dress size or weight. I still struggle with sadness over some things that happen on this Earth, but now I choose to take control over my feelings by taking action to improve our environment and create a supportive place to encourage others. I choose to look for the joy and good rather than dwell in fear and antipathy. I believe in small, positive actions. It has an impact. Small actions are what brought me to my (almost) ideal body today, and I keep making little steps each day to improve even further. I started running again in 2008, first by running around the block every week. Then I ran 2 miles every week. That was a celebration. We don’t celebrate the little victories often enough. Then I ran 3, 4, 5 miles. I was committed week in and week out, and because it was only small incremental changes, it wasn’t so daunting or overwhelming. Sometimes it was scary, like the night before I did my 18 mile training run last spring. But I worked through the fear, or rather I just stopped thinking so much and jumped right into doing, and then I ran a marathon. It was exhilarating; I felt like I was living my life to the fullest. I’ve got my sights set on a triathalon in 2013.
So, I believe in small changes, small daily actions to improve personal health and the health of our environment. Examples? Paying a little more for sustainably farmed salmon. It improves water quality, reduces the amount of mercury in our water and our bodies, and ensures that there will be salmon to eat in 20 years. Commercially farmed salmon is extremely toxic for water health and mercury levels, requires multiple times its weight in feed, and is so overfished that we may not have any left in the near future. I choose to buy fair trade cocoa and chocolate because it eliminates the possibility that child labor is used in the harvest of raw cacao. I simply can not enjoy food if I know that people suffer in its creation or it pollutes the planet in the way it is harvested. Also, there is a personal benefit, because when we make small investments in wholesome food, we ensure it will be around for generations AND prevent harmful toxins and pesticides from entering our food system and bodies. My friend calls it “symbiotic groceries”.
I see this site promoting a mutually beneficial relationship with the planet and giving people sustainable ways to regain their health and happiness, all while experiencing great food and friendship. When we give a little to the universe, we are rewarded with healthy bodies and happy minds. I’m dedicated to bringing you ideas on how to live healthily and LOVE it, and to provide a platform for you to share your own ideas, recipes, tips, questions, comments, and voices. Thank you for taking the time to come and visit this site and read my story. I hope to hear from you soon.