My health origin story
I was never that into food as kid, in fact for the most part I resented when my Mum would pack my school lunch with baby carrots and ranch in upcycled cream cheese containers. Other kids would poke fun at me, and I longed for the day I would get a pop tart in my lunch. It wasn’t until I grew a bit older that food started to become more than just a mundane part of life.
It started at a concert, where I grabbed what I thought was a music video DVD (the original way to a viral video). To my disappointment, it was not full of videos of men with side bangs, sporting electric guitars and skinny jeans, but rather an insider look into the factory farming industry, I had been fooled! At the tender age of 14 this DVD from this strange company with an acronym for a name had me convinced, I needed to become vegetarian. I ran upstairs and told my mum, ‘I’m not eating meat anymore, do you know what they do to the animals?!’, her response flatly was ‘sure, do what you want, but I’m not cooking separate meals.’ So right there and then I gave up my 'rib-wiches' and sausage rolls and ate... Well let’s be real, I ate veggie pizza, candy, bread and a whole lot of mashed potatoes. This was the best I had ever felt, maybe it was my new found ethics, or maybe it was the lack of deli meats, but I was hooked on this feeling and I remained vegetarian for almost 8 years thereafter. That is until I went vegan.
I thought I couldn’t be more righteous, I was single handed-ly saving all the animals, and I loved that it made me different from all the other kids in school. Vegetarianism gave me a way to isolate myself and gave me an excuse to be weird and different, and now that I was vegan I felt I had a well-rounded adult personality. I mean, I was making big decisions about my diet, what could be more adult than that?
It was maybe a year and a half into my vegan journey when my job started to get stressful, a tumultuous relationship had ended and so had some unhealthy friendships. I started to realized that I had no motivation to grow, and now I was staring to lose the energy to even try. I felt I had everything I needed because I was vegan and I had found who I was as an adult, what more was there to learn? I was depressed and down on myself, but I always figured, I’m just naturally a little depressed, that’s just me.
"I felt so much lighter and as if the fog that was overshadowing my spirt had finally lifted."
I took up smoking and drank often, because that’s what people my age and adults do, right? I looked cool and I was too fucked up to care about little else. Not the chronic digestive issues, the terrible acne, the inability to put on weight, the intense PMS pain and symptoms. Those were all normal I thought. Ironically, this was the time where I started to get into healthier eating habits, I ate copious vegetables hoping to offset my poor lifestyle habits, I still didn’t feel any better physically and I still I felt like such a hollow person, relying on my subscription to a certain diet to mold my personality, and my interpretations from others on how I should act a set the standards. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and my depression at an all-time high. I felt as if my existence only mattered to my Mum. The person who would be on the phone with me until 3am, only to wake me up again at 6am so I could get to work. I didn’t want to sleep. Either I couldn’t sleep or when I did my nightmares were unbearable. My life was becoming unbearable.
"I definitely don’t need to label myself or subscribe to any diet to belong to a community, and besides a person can only ever be one part of a community, it does not define you as an individual."
So what did I do? I took myself out of my environment. I moved house and I quit my job. I felt slightly better, but still pretty terrible, I surrounded myself with people who put me down and didn’t bring any positivity to my life, all because I thought they saw something valuable in me that I couldn’t see in myself and I was hopelessly hoping to see a glimpse of what they saw. I still couldn’t figure out why my life wasn’t what I hoped it would be.
The last few years since that time have been a blur, I finally applied at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, cut ties with the relationships that were no longer adding anything to my life, got a job that was health positive and would put me in the direction of where I wanted to be, and I slowly started introducing animal based proteins back into my diet. I felt so much lighter and as if the fog that was overshadowing my spirt had finally lifted. I was free to do with my life all those things I felt I had missed out on, I could try new things and finally, I could learn who I was.
It was a long road, but the 2 ½ years I took to complete my holistic nutrition certification were the most transformative of my life. I had to work on myself, for myself and begin the long (and still ongoing) process of trying to shed the fear and worry of what others may think and just go for what makes me happy. In this process, I found my personality. I learned that I’m an introvert! I like being with people, but not all the time and that’s okay! I don’t need smoking as an excuse to go outside to be by myself for a moment of fresh air, and I don’t need alcohol to help get through social events that I didn’t want to go to, I just don’t attend anymore, and I definitely don’t need to label myself or subscribe to any diet to belong to a community, and besides a person can only ever be one part of a community, it does not define you as an individual.
I now want to help others who maybe have similar stories, or just want to learn more about how food can either help or hinder you on your journey. I want to show people who may also be struggling, how food can nourish you and can give you the best opportunity at a more vibrant and fulfilling life.
I am grateful for my journey, and how it has molded me to be the woman I am today. I am allowed to be introverted; to be strange and quiet and a loner, to cry sometimes, and enjoy my own company. And you know what, if I’m enjoying my delicious snacks and loving life and people make fun of my containers, then maybe it’s because they’re only concerned with what’s on the outside, and that is no longer my problem. So heres me, still snackin', still reusing where I can, and now living, and loving life, more than I ever thought was possible.