Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Story: Part 3, Finding Health

Hello and welcome to the final installment of my experiences with illness, recovery, and now health.

If you missed the first two posts, check them out:
Part 1
Part 2

My journey to where I am today was certainly not an easy one and it was filled with many missteps and hardships. However, thankfully, I have ultimately obtained a state of health I have never before experienced.

Additionally, having this experience has shown me the difference a supportive partner, family, and group of friends can make. Without all the wonderful people in my life it's doubtful I would have reached the point I have today. Having experienced illness and knowing that my symptoms could return in a heartbeat if I choose to eat the wrong chocolate bar or can of soup has also caused me to appreciate all that it means to be healthy.

Every day that I wake up without all the horrible symptoms I lived with every day I am thankful. Knowing what it means to have health taken from me has made me truly value what it means to gain it back. Being able to take a walk if I choose to, or do yoga, or whatever activity I feel like, without fearing I will collapse on the floor has an extremely liberating and exhilarating feeling.

Along with this appreciation I have found a passion to always seek better heath and happiness, a passion to experiment to find what works best for me, and a passion to learn as much as I can about nutrition, happiness, wellness.

Through this passion I have discovered the joy of cooking. There is nothing quite like preparing a wonderful meal from scratch, knowing 100% that everything in it is something I can and want to put into my body, and then getting to enjoy the fruits of my labor. As a result I don't even really mind doing the dishes!

I have also learned about our country's food system and how there are many things I do not agree with or support and that I would love to see change. Having this knowledge has pushed me to continue looking for more and to find a greater understanding of how food works in our modern day world.

Additionally, I have discovered how animals are treated in our food system, the negative impacts the production of meat and dairy foods has on our environment, as well as the health benefits that have been linked with eating a plant-based diet. Armed with this knowledge I have dedicated my food choices to those that are animal product and by-product free and now consuming a vegan, plant-based, gluten and corn free diet.

I have also, especially recently, taken the choices I make with my diet further, trying to make the best choices for my health and environment through every product I purchase or use. This especially has been a long transition as my budget does not allow a compete overhaul and replacement of my cosmetics, lotions, etc.

Exercise has become central to my life in a way it never has before. I no longer feel as though I need to exercise or that it is something I am supposed to do. Instead I genuinely enjoy the times I spend every day being active. Some days, especially during say finals week, this may mean only the 20 minute walk to campus, but even those 20 minutes can brighten my day. Most days, however, I am thankfully able to enjoy more activity. Currently I am loving my (almost) daily yoga practice. Not only does it get my heart pumping but it has provided me with an invaluable stress management technique.

Along those lines I can honestly say I am the happiest I have ever been. I find happiness all around me and even when my day feels completely overwhelming and full of negatives I can still find something good or at least know that there will be good just around the corner.

Amazingly, while I just completed the busiest quarter of my undergraduate career, when I reflect back on it I do not see three months filled with stress and breakdowns (although those things did happen from time to time) but instead feel that I found a peaceful and functioning balance between my responsibilities, perhaps even experiencing less stress and more enjoyment than previous, much less demanding, quarters.

I believe I have found health.

However, this does not mean I intend to sit back and relax, hoping to stay where I am without any effort. Just the opposite. I know that health is a lifelong commitment and that it is one that I am ready to make. Every day I consider my food choices and what they will do for my body, think about the products I am using and how they will impact me and the environment, assess the impact my actions and words will have on those around me, and continually search for more and more information to continue me on my pathway of health and well-being.

Currently, I am not perfect nor completely satisfied with myself or my life, I think that while "perfect" is not the goal that there are always things to improve upon. But no matter what, I look forward to striving to, and being able to, improve upon those things and know that I am doing what I can and want to do to be the healthiest person I can be.

Thanks for sticking through my long and drawn out story. I hope it gives you some insight into who I am and the perspective I come from.

Happy Saturday!

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