This has been a year full of challenges. That seems to be an ongoing theme in my life as of late; challenges that is. And with those challenges has come personal growth. I’ve grown more in this year than I have in my entire life and there are still a few more months to go. For all I know, within the next three months I’ll have transformed into someone completely new.
The fact is I started out this year in a pretty terrible place. I was exhausted from pushing myself too hard in school. I was unhealthy because I hardly ever exercised and my diet consisted of nothing but junk. I was dealing with anxiety that left me unable to get up, go to class, take care of myself, and left me even more drained then I had been before. I was recovering from a mutual, but heart wrenching, break up.
May the next few months be a period of magnificent transformation.
Where I am at now is leaps and bounds from where I was at in January. Getting here was a struggle. You know the saying “take two steps forward and one step back?” Well, it was more like one step forward, five steps back, 3 steps forward, 1/2 step back, and, well, you get the picture. I wish I could say it was a straight route to feeling and being better, but it was more like getting stuck in a corn maze, retracing steps, trying new routes, and hoping for the best.
So why do I bring this up? Because I finally feel balanced and ready to talk about it. I’m proud of my progress. I’ve put more work into myself than I have in anything else for years. The fact is I want to share how I got to this place with people and help them try to get there if, and when, they are ready to do that. It’s hard, time consuming work, but if a person is ready to try than here I am ready to help.
Here’s a few things I changed and how it affected my life:
This was by far the most challenging thing to change. Growing up I had always been an optimist. As I grew up I realized that that level of optimism was rare. I was an idealist living in a world surrounded by realists. When I started spouting ideas and seeing things through rose-colored glasses, people would shut me down. I learned to rein the optimism in. It was still there, but I buried it with sarcasm and a witty humor. LOL JK I’m not witty.
Getting back into that positive perspective started with having a serious talk with myself. I actually analyzed my life, who was in it, what was in it, and what made me happy or stressed. My life wasn’t perfect. It still isn’t. But taking the negative out of it made it feel lighter somehow. I stopped caring what people thought as much. I started seeing bad situations as challenges to overcome and opportunities for improvement. Everything was rosy again.
Dealing with Surroundings
As I said before, I was influenced heavily by other people. I’ve always been good at observing others and adjusting to the frequency they put out to fit in more. I’m adaptable. That adaptability made me prone to mirroring the actions and personality of people around me. Turns out at the lowest point in my life I had quite a few negative people surrounding me.
So I dealt with it. To be honest, I burned a few bridges. I stopped hanging out with people who only talked about the negative, terrible things happening in their life. That behavior was addictive and it was bringing me down. The longer I spent time with them, the more I started to view life that way. Then I started to look at what I valued. Honesty is one of the most important things to me. I’d rather you say what you’re thinking, even if it’s mean, than to try and sugar coat things and pretend everything’s alright. I had a friend who lied to me about a major issue and I ended cutting them out of my life. It may sound harsh, but the relief I felt was amazing. I didn’t have to wonder what else they lied about or be around a presence I didn’t want to be.
I work at a pizza place, which is fun. Half off food? Sign me up. Sweets? I’m there. You’re making pasta? When can I come over? I love pizza. I love candy. I love carbs. Vegetables? What are those? That had been my diet for a good year, if not longer.
Recently I decided to start watching what I was eating. In no way was I surprised to find that carbs and sugar were by far what I ate the most of. So I decided to make some drastic changes. I cut out foods with excess sugar (bye Cocoa Puffs, Coca-Cola, and chocolate chip cookies). Instead of carbo-loading, I had one source of carbs with every meal (no more bread AND pasta). I got rid of dairy. This was heartbreaking. My sister is lactose intolerant and it turns out that being lactose intolerant isn’t only genetic, but something you can grow in and out of it. At 22 years old I grew in to being lactose intolerant. Eating dairy literally made me so nauseous I would sometimes vomit. I still have not fully come to terms with the lack of ability to consume dairy.
I drink way more water, which makes me feel so much more energized. I discovered how delicious almond milk is. As a kid I hated vegetables, now I prefer them over fruit. It’s not all easy though. Sometimes I slip up and decide to have an extra large serving of pasta, bread, and ice cream. I shrug it off and try to do better the next day. Honestly, most days I’m just trying to remember to eat three meals. Now I feel more energized, not nauseous, healthier, and I actually lost weight without adding exercise to my routine.
The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure. -Tibetan Proverb
This is only part of what I’ve changed. I used to trying to slowly incorporate one thing at a time. It always failed. Then one day it hit me that it was now or never and I started changing as much as I possible could as soon as I possibly could. So far it’s working. Check in next week for part two of How I Changed My Life.