I wasn't always the poster child for healthy eating...
Today I want to talk to you about being enough. Because I don't think we give ourselves permission to ever think or believe that. And it's something we need to remember each and every day.
This week's story is inspired by my friend Judy. Judy is like the coolest girl ever. She's deeply spiritual and connected and lives a truly authentic life. She's totally grounded and gives to others and is unequivocally the real deal. She's smart and beautiful and rich in spirit. She never loses focus of what's important in life.
So the other day while scheduling a play date for our kids, she said to me, "You're so good about everything you eat. I have no idea what to feed my kids for dinner. It's so overwhelming and I really need to revamp my entire kitchen and get us all healthier as a family. Most of the time I'm flying by the seat of my pants. One week I'll do such a great job buying everything organic, like chicken and vegetables, and I'll get my kids to eat super healthy meals. The next week it all goes to pot and it's back to chicken nuggets and other crap like that."
So I took a pause, and thought about how I could set her straight again. And I told her my story, which I'll now share with you.
I wasn't always the poster child for good nutrition.
Starting in my teens and pretty much through my mid twenties, I ate candy bars and drank Diet Coke daily. I was rocking a wicked case of acne and cycled on and off antibiotics to try and clear it up. I had terrible PMS, mood swings, and irritability. My acne was so bad that I finally took Accutane to clear it up. I had terrible cravings and ate a super starchy diet that left me tired much of the time. I drank a lot of booze and coffee, too, so I was wired and tired at the same time. I worked out a lot, but often I had to take a nap just to have the energy to get there in the first place. I rode my body as hard as it would let me. (Not so saintly now, eh??)
Over time, my body told me that it needed greater balance, less stimulants, and a LOT more love. In my late twenties I developed mercury toxicity that forced me to eat healthy, rest, and recover while my body detoxed and pushed the poisons out. I worked with many practitioners who taught me how to make connections between food and mood, and helped me figure out what foods gave me the best energy and put my body back in balance.
This was the Universe's way of laying down the ground work for my next life challenge, which has been healing my body from Epstein-Barr virus. EBV had been making a home in my body for 7 years before it was diagnosed, and so I really had to clean house and show it the door by eating a grain-free, whole foods diet rich in fruits, vegetables, quality fats, and not much else!
Yes, that's right--irony of all ironies--I had to go on a vegan diet while promoting Cavewomen Don't Get Fat. Talk about the Universe throwing me a curve ball! Since EBV loves to feed on animal fats, I had to eat this way for months. Boy did I throw myself a pity party for a few days when I first got the news of what I had to do--many tears were shed! I was freaking out living my life as closeted vegan, but I desperately wanted to heal my body and was willing to do whatever it took to get better.
Sometimes we all have to listen to what our body wants and needs. Even if it conflicts with our previous notions of what we believe is best for our body. It was painful at first, but it helped me let go in a thousand ways and embrace the unknown. The process became more about surrendering and trusting all the amazing things that lay in store for me--like getting my health back.
It's now 2.5 years later, and my viral load is way, way down. Now I just have to clear out the metabolic crud the virus has left in it's wake that's still tinkering around in my nervous system and messing with my cortisol and my sleep. But I will get there, because there' is nothing in my body that cannot be healed. And knowing that gives me peace of mind.
By the way, animal protein is back in my life, and I feel super grateful, balanced, and happy. I also feel incredibly grounded. (Imagine being so limited for so long with your diet that you are just excited to eat eggs once or twice a week--woo hoo!)
So, here's what I want to make crystal clear in my love letter to you today: NONE of this healthy eating happened overnight. It was a long and gradual process that took time and patience. I now enjoy eating healthfully and all the benefits it brings to my body, but I only made changes slowly, over time, when I was truly ready for it. Paying homage to my past journeys enables me to embrace the power of making one change at a time.
After listening to Judy's story, she added one amazing piece of information. "I now steam my vegetables on the stove every night instead of in the microwave." I got so excited and said, "Well there you go! You're done. One change has been made, and that's all you need to do."
Whether I'm giving talks in public, or talking to people at a party, I try to help people understand just how seriously I take living what feels like a normal, balanced life for me. This does not mean I work to change twenty, or even ten, things at once. It means I change only one thing per year. This keeps me feeling empowered and injects me with a healthy sense of balance, fun, and control over how I want to live my life. That's. It.
I'm not saying this will whet your whistle, mind you--I'm only telling you in the name of transparency. I think it's important to share my journey so you can feel inspired to create a path that speaks to your heart and keeps you quite grounded in the process.
Because I only make one big change per year, I never stress about anything else or beat myself up about my body anymore. I'm committed to living life as a long, winding road that plays out much more like a marathon than it does a sprint. And so I make sure I set myself up for success by choosing one change per year that I can truly stick to, versus taking on an overwhelming amount of tasks that are totally unsustainable in the long run.
So whatever you decide to do, even if it's nothing, it's enough. It really, really is. And that's what we have to remind ourselves. There's plenty of room in our heads for inner critiques, but we need to clear even more space to just BE.