my health and wellness story
Hey, hey. Just checking in with an old post that holds the power to my beginning. I say ‘beginning’ because life truly felt like it began when I chose the path of health and wellness. So please join me as I guide you through what that looked like—and hopefully it inspires you on yours.
(originally published October 19th, 2015)
I thought it was time for a little look back at how it all started for me. My passion for health and wellness, and what I think about all day, every day wasn’t always the case and wasn’t always there. It’s let’s be real time. This is why I think it’s important to recognize that people are on different journeys in wellness, and my goal is really to just be a guide on a more wholesome path.
It’s one thing to try and convert someone completely to think more naturally and organically about themselves, but another to go through it. I mean, the shift I went through was not only transformational, but almost life-saving...but it took time. It gave me a whole new lens to view the world through, but remembering that this experience will be unique to every person is important to keep in mind. When they decide to let it happen is ultimately what it comes down to. We’re all just going with the amount of knowledge we have, and I see and recognize that completely.
So, that’s why I want to share my health and wellness story with you today - so you can get a complete picture of how my story unfolded.
Before I was ever plant-based, I was just your typical girl, attending university, eating cheap foods and having body issues. I never struggled with weight per se (it would always fluctuate a bit, but nothing that ever tipped the scale), but my mind struggled with even the slightest changes. I always wanted to be “skinny” (<—I cringe at this word now and don’t ever use it in my vocabulary anymore, especially now that I have a daughter and want to teach her body love).
I got into a pretty vicious cycle of "regret", which is what I’ll call it because that is exactly what happened & looked like this: I would eat crappy foods, immediately regret it, and spend the whole night pretty much cursing myself. Luckily I never had any eating disorders, but being a bully to yourself isn’t a much better alternative. And guess what? I would repeat this. Over, and over, and over again. Not a nice way to live.
I looked for quick fixes (cleanses with disgusting drinks, for example), but lacked seeing the real root cause: I needed an overhaul; something to break the cycle and help change my perspective.
This is around the time I met my husband...we got married, honeymooned, then lived abroad in Australia for 5 months, came back home, and then moved to the west coast of Canada to live for 8 months.
I was by all means “living it up” but not really living, at the same time.
I felt incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin, but luckily somehow stumbled upon “healthy” recipes and blogs while living in BC, Canada. I didn’t know what they were, but I saw that people were writing on the internet—whether it be their own stories or recipes, or both—and sharing it with the world. I was learning more about eating better quality meals and even started dabbling it creating my own recipes (banana breads, homemade larabars, and more). I even started a blog myself (I can’t remember the name of my very first blog, but it didn’t last for long!).
I started to shift my thinking and put more thought and consideration into meals. I still had a lot to learn, but at least I was now connecting with something more true to me. This was also around the time (mid-2010) that I started thinking about going back to school for Nutrition, so I could a) learn more and b) pursue a career in this field that I was now falling in love with.
I started by upgrading my high school math course via distance ed, and taking Grade 11 and 12 chemistry since I backed out of ever taking them in high school (I actually enjoyed it those years later though!), writing my acceptance letter, and applying to university.
We moved back to Ontario, I got the good news that I was accepted into school, and so began a new journey…one that was now taking me down that more wholesome path I strive for others to take.
Summer of 2011 rolled in and I started getting into running more, was working my butt off at three different jobs, and became a vegetarian.
I had never intended to give up meat (in fact I used to be pretty anti-vegetarian, especially when my sister tried it out once and I thought it was a dumb move), but I also never planned on turning myself into a runner, so life really does throw curveballs your way!
I actually decided on giving up land animals (I still ate fish summer of 2011) as a challenge to myself. I still had a lot to learn about the health-side of not eating animals, but for now, I didn’t really eat a lot as it was, so I wanted to see if I could go a week without eating the ones I did find in my diet: chicken, turkey, pork and beef the odd time.
I found the challenge easier than I would have expected and continued to keep those animals out, but still consumed fish and dairy the odd time. This is where my health and wellness mindset really shifted. I started seeing the benefit in eating more fresh and local produce — I still didn’t have much of a clue about organic, other than I knew it was expensive and felt like it would be hard to do, so I didn’t.
I continued to read blogs (hopped on the oatmeal & nut butter train), write my own (char on a mission which lead to char eats greens), learn more & more each day about health, and added a ton of fruits and vegetables into my diet. Then some really unintended changes happened.
I became a lot more involved with eating these naturally lower calorie foods, plus that combined with running a lot & working 40-50 hours a week had me drained and I was eventually in the low body fat range.
Now are you ready for the weird part?
Finally being “skinny” actually didn’t do anything for me.
I mean, yes, it felt great to have my jeans finally fit me without jumping into them, but another shift happened: I actually lost my period for a couple months that summer and I was mad at my body because I thought that by eating healthy and running a lot it would be in the best shape it could be. Wrong.
This is especially hard if you’re considering starting a family soon, which I was completely in the mindset to do.
So now, here I was: mad at my body for failing me (and not letting me get pregnant when I wanted to), and coming to the realization that I had to scale back on something I loved to do (running), in order to get my body back in a healthy fat percentage range.
Being fresh in school and not having the time to run much helped with that (to put on a few pounds), alongside my diet continuing to improve with the more knowledge I gained.
I eventually went completely plant-based by November 2011 and felt very good about this decision, especially since as a student studying nutrition, I had the resources and tools to make sure I was doing it right. And then three months later, I got pregnant!
From then to now, I basically kept improving my health and wellness in all the ways I think beneficial — going along the lines of: the more I learn, the more I apply to my life.
We started by eating more organic items, eating out only at places we knew provided quality, learning more about the environment and our impact, and using more natural products in the home.
Some of this progressed faster than others (I still cringe at the fact that I was pregnant and cleaning our bathrooms with windex and lysol before I discovered I could just make my own cleaners—especially now with essential oils!), and we’re still learning as we go.
We are trying to do the best we can with our current level of knowledge, and if I can help even one person by me providing my stories, recipes, tips, etc. then I’m completely satisfied. I know I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. But honestly... now you couldn't even pay me to stop what I'm doing.
I feel so much more comfortable in my skin. I wouldn't care now what my weight is or punish myself for eating something "bad" because it doesn't hold nearly the same value as when I didn't care about my health. I'm finally at a place where I'm 100% invested in what I'm doing.
I write this story so that you know you are not alone. We are all at different crossroads in the path, but whichever one you take will lead you where you want to go.
I can’t help but continue down my path of educating others and helping them on their wellness journey. So if this is something that interests you, please follow along. I’d love to go into more specifics of where my path is taking me as of right now, but we’ll save that for another day.
Just always follow your heart…it has logic. Trust me!