LONG POST – I apologize for this, but I had a lot to say, if you take the time to read this I really appreciate it.
I’m going to talk to you guys about my WHY. Why I’m so passionate about self-love, taking care of myself, nutrition, fitness and wellness, why I started this blog and why I choose to share all of this information with you guys. This story is super important to me and something that I really want to share because I think a lot of people can relate to what I have gone through, and how I got through some of my struggles. This is also a big part of who I am, which is a side of me that I want people to get to know. I hid this story from everyone except like 1 person for a long time, and I don’t want to hide in the shadows anymore.
So growing up, I was always an active kid. When I was younger I played hockey, and I was always involved in all of the school sports from volleyball, basketball, track, soccer, soft ball, you name it I probably did it. From the age of 12 to the age of 16 ish I was in competitive gymnastics as well. I was always active yes, but I battled with a lot of body image issues along the way and growing up.
I never had a very good mindset, did not love myself or what the concept, did not understand nutrition and what it really meant to take care and nourish my body. I was never fat by any means, but I always felt bigger then my friends in high school which made me very insecure and led me to be hard on myself. Everyone was really small and tiny where I was built more muscular, had a bigger butt, just a more stocky, muscular build overall. This is not a bad thing, but at that age, I looked at myself as too muscular, not skinny or small enough and I was constantly comparing myself to my friends and other people. Also, being in gymnastics, I was always training really hard and working out a lot because in gymnastics your supposed to be smaller, tiny and delicate. So I compared myself to successful gymnasts as well and wondered why I did not look the way a professional, competitive gymnast should look. So as you can see, I put so much pressure on myself growing up to look a certain way and be skinny and small like everyone else. I really had no idea what being healthy meant, I just wanted to be skinny my whole life that was my main goal. I truly felt that being skinny meant I was healthy and that being skinny would make me happy.
During this time, I remember very vividly, telling myself that the only things I could eat were under 100 calories, and had no fat and I even went to the extent of not eating at all and starving myself so I could lose weight. This was when I was like 16, 17 still, so not something a girl at that age should be so worried about. My life and thoughts revolved around doing things that would make me skinny.
Then, into my senior year of high school I got more into working out independently not just with school sports and I got a little more into eating healthier and understanding the nutrition aspect. I still did not really know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats or carbs or sugars or anything. I literally thought vegetables and fruits were the only thing that would make me healthy, but I started to improve my mindset a lot more and stopped being so hard on myself. I tried eating stuff that I thought and knew was nutritious, started going to the local gym with my older brother, doing workouts at school on my lunch hour or staying after school to workout. I started to be known as the gym girl and the one who knew what she was doing at the gym. I mean, looking back now I really just did a lot of cardio and some free weight stuff, I didn’t really know a whole lot regarding workouts. I thought cardio was the only way to look good, strong and lean and how to lose weight. I was not introduced to weights or actually building strong, lean muscle until a bit later.
Later on in my senior year, closer to my high school graduation I was doing a lot better. I slowly became more and more interested in nutrition and fitness because the more I worked out, the better and more confident I felt which was a feeling I LOVED and I got more curious I was about the whole thing. I started to develop a better relationship with myself and my body and the more I read and researched about nutrition the more amazing it all sounded and it became more interesting to me. Close to my graduation I grew my knowledge in health and fitness, and started understanding how important it was to fuel and nourish my body with proper foods to get the most out of my workouts. My older brother introduced me to lifting weights, and the more I did that I felt stronger, leaner, and my metabolism caught fire. I was hungry more and had more energy and this new found confidence and self-love. I felt amazing and then from there I knew I wanted to pursue a career in nutrition and fitness so I could teach others to feel the same. Therefore, I applied to the Human Nutritional Sciences program at the University of Manitoba and graduated with a Bachelors Degree.
I love school and always have, especially when given the opportunity to learn and study nutrition everyday. University was definitely a huge part of my personal development and growth, I learned so many skills including time management, multi-tasking, how to be a team leader and work well independently, organization skills, public speaking, research skills and more. These things are very important when going on into the real world, but there is another thing that happened to me throughout my years of university that really shaped who I am and my big WHY in going into nutrition and fitness as a career.
In my second year of University in the Fall I was taking heavy courses and my grandpa who is my favourite person in the world had brain surgery and it was a really stressful time on the family. I also went on a trip to Cuba with my ex-boyfriend and his family and it was not a very good experience for me. All the food made me sick, I wanted to go home so bad, I was uncomfortable, miserable and just felt so anxious whenever we left the resort (I didn’t know what I was feeling was anxiety at this time). All of these things kind of built up throughout the fall and into Winter so by Christmas time I had developed a bad anxiety disorder. This was by far the scariest, darkest and hardest experience I have ever gone through in my life and I would do anything to help any of you if you have or currently are going through something like this.
When I developed an anxiety disorder, I had no clue what it was and why I was feeling like this which made me feel worse and made me panic more. Anyone who has had anxiety or panic attacks, knows this feeling and how scary it is. I literally felt like I was going insane, and crazy and that I would NEVER feel normal again or be able to focus on school and on and on. So you could imagine how this made my anxiety even worse and kept fuelling my panic. People would tell me, just relax! Just stop thinking about it! Like yeah if only it were that easy right?? So that was even more frustrating and made me feel crazy because no matter how hard I tried, I could not relax or take my mind off of it for the life of me.
It got so bad that over Christmas that year, my parents had to take me to the hospital because they had no idea how to help me or calm me down and I thought I was dying or having a heart attack, or like I was really going insane. I was crying non-stop, my heart was beating a million times a minute, I was so stressed out my mind felt like it was in knots and everything felt dark and scary. I feared being alone and leaving the house or doing anything really. I was having constant panic attacks and could not focus on anything so my parents didn’t know what else to do except take me into the hospital. I kept everything bottled up and had no idea what was going on with me it was so fucking scary.
From my second year until my 4th and even 5th year of university, it was constant up and downs with my mental health and trying to fix it. Trying to put my thoughts back into place, trying to force my anxious thoughts and feelings away with absolutely every method I could think of. I tried natural herbs and supplements, herbal teas, anxiety courses and workshops, tried replacing my negative anxious thoughts with positive ones, but nothing worked. Or if it did work I felt better and like I conquered my anxiety and I finally beat it, only to fall back into anxious thoughts the next week. I felt trapped and lost and hopeless all the time. My anxiety was ruining my life.
In combination with my anxiety I also experienced ups and downs with Insomnia. Having poor sleep fuelled my anxiety and made me feel more depressed and shitty. I remember one time I could not sleep for 5 days, I was so depressed and hopeless. I have never felt so low in my whole life, and I really thought I was never going to escape these feelings. With insomnia again I tried courses, workshops, herbs, supplements like melatonin, lemon balm, sleepy tea, but all of these things left me feeling groggy and more depressed, and sleepless yet again.
I felt lost and trapped in a continuous cycle of anxiety, depression and insomnia.
I also developed a form of OCD called intrusive thoughts OCD, which I did not even know was a real mental illness until months and months into my struggle with it. I would have thoughts of harming myself, and think they were real, and would fear actually hurting myself. The thoughts really scared me and I thought it meant I was depressed or suicidal, so whenever I had a intrusive thought like that I would have really bad anxiety and obsess over it. I would check and go through aspects of my life that showed I wasn’t depressed or suicidal. I would be like ” Okay, I went to school today, I hung out with friends, I tried going for a walk, I cant be depressed. Why am I thinking this way?” Obsessing, and checking was going through my mind all times of the day. I would be scared to chop vegetables or use anything sharp because I was scared I would lose control and accidentally hurt myself. Or when I was driving down the highway, I would think “what if i just swerved in the middle of the road onto oncoming traffic” And then I would have bad anxiety about having to drive, or cook, etc. It was really confusing for me because I knew I didn’t want to, I wanted to live, be happy, etc., but I kept having these thoughts and I tried to force them out constantly because they terrified me. I figured if I was having these thoughts that they were real, and true to who I was. The more I fought them, the stronger they were, the more anxious and fear I felt. It was a constant, vicious cycle and I thought I was going absolutely insane. I know how crazy this may sound, and you might think I am crazy, but its a real form of OCD. I couldn’t focus on school, my friends, family, or anything that I used to enjoy doing. I have never felt so terrified, and I was terrified of myself, and my mind.
Trying to battle with this, pretend to act normal with family and friends (I did a good job of this) and trying to study and do well with school, was hell. I’ve never experienced something so difficult. I only opened up about all of this to one person and my boyfriend just recently, because i was embarrassed, and wanted so badly to be normal. I did not want to be dealing with this or be different or crazy. So I kept it in, and was determined to fix it myself, with no therapy or medication or anything else.
Soo, after a lot of ups and downs with my mental health, I just hit a breaking point. And I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to live like this anymore. I just told myself that you are going to be happy and you are not going to keep living in fear and feeling sluggish and down and being unhappy. I took the fact that I am a huge bookworm to my advantage and I started researched everything. I poured into research about anxiety, insomnia, depression, and buying so many books about it. This was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I also started studying nutrition and the brain a little more and why anxiety and these other mental health disorders happen. I was already passionate about nutrition, but in those times of anxiety episodes and depression, insomnia I wouldn’t take care of myself. I wouldn’t take a mental health day, I wouldn’t exercise or eat healthy. I wanted to stay in bed all day and wait for it to go away. I would literally put my life on hold when I was experiencing these things because I was scared to get up and face them. I would try and shut them out and shut the world out. I learned that in order to heal from anxiety, depression, OCD, insomnia, I needed to act like it wasn’t there. I don’t mean, push it down, but simply allow it to be there, and go on with your life.
For example, when I felt anxious, I would just tell myself, okay thats fine, its just a feeling, its not going to kill you, just let it go and go about your day. The more I did this, and it did take time, it doesn’t happen overnight, the better I felt, and those anxious thoughts or feelings just started to fade and feel less important. When I had a bad nights sleep, I learned to accept it and not force anything. When I had an intrusive thought and felt the urge to obsess over it or fix it, I just let it be there and went about my day like I usually would. I learned that the more you force things, try and make things go away, the worse it feels. You cannot control everything, the sooner you accept that, the more peaceful you will feel. You can’t stop living your life when these things are happening.
Anyways, I read up on everything related to mental health, OCD, nutrition and working out related to feeling better during those anxious/depressed moments even when I didn’t want too. It’s easy to take care of yourself and be positive and live life when your feeling good, but the growth happens when your not feeling good, and you do those things anyways. Two books that really opened my eyes and put things into perspective for me in a way that made sense and what really cured/healed my anxiety, was the untethered soul by by Michael A. Singer, and also The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. These two books literally changed my life, and allowed me to heal from my anxiety. These books taught me to stop fighting my anxiety or any other struggles, but to accept them, and allow them to be because the more you fight it the stronger it becomes. When you accept it and allow those anxious, depressed feelings to occur, the less power and control they have over you, and the quicker they disappear and you go back to feeling calm again. Same goes for insomnia, the more you try and control your sleep, try harder to get to sleep or stay asleep, the further away sleep is. You can NOT control what comes and goes, you have to ride the wave out, let it be, and your natural states of calm, peace, happiness and sleep will come to you if you allow it too.
These books also taught me not to take my thoughts so seriously and that thoughts and feelings are not you, there just something your experiencing. Your underneath all of that. So you don’t have to believe all of those anxious thoughts, you just have to observe, accept and let them go. Your thoughts are just thoughts, thats it, they only become scary if you make them scary. The more you believe them, give them attention instead of allowing them to float away, the more they stick around, and you continue to stay in that anxiety cycle.
This is more said then done, it took time and patience for me to feel whole and healed and for my anxiety to slowly fade on its own. This may not be for everyone, but this is what worked and what made sense to me, and I can honestly say, today I am anxiety free and sleep well every night and have been for about a year now. Yes, I do think about those struggles sometimes, and I do still get anxious about stuff like anyone, or have a bad sleep like anyone, but I know how to deal with it now. I just accept it and don’t stress about it, let everything be and let everything go.
So in saying all of this, I cannot stress enough to people and make it a priority myself to nourish my body everyday, get enough exercise, take rest days, listen to your body, take self-care days, spend time everyday doing things that relaxes you. To me thats eating right, exercising, meditation, reading, journaling, face masks, tea, candles, spending time with my boyfriend and family, are all things that I do to make myself feel whole, relaxed and happy.
With all of my past struggles with anxiety and mental health, body image issues, I have found healing through nutrition and fitness, taking care of my body, practicing self-love and self-care on the daily or at least taking a full mental health day once a week. This is why I am so passionate about what I do, and why I want to help people learn the same things that I have, and find positivity, self-love, confidence and accept who they are, accept all of their flaws and struggles because it makes you who you are and makes you stronger. You never grow in a comfort zone, its when you are uncomfortable and experience those hard situations where you grow and become a stronger person.
The more I understood it more, the more I reached out to people about it, and realized how many people struggle with this on a daily basis. It was crazy! So Im sharing this story because I want people to reach out to me, hear my journey and know there not alone, and that there is a way to healing and peace again.
That basically sums up why I am so passionate about nutrition, fitness and all things wellness, self-love/self-care and I hope I was able to relate and connect with you guys in a few ways. This story is something very personal to me and something only a few people knew about up until now. My story and journey was a long one with many ups and downs, but fuels my fire, passion and motivation to be a health coach and help others through some of the same stuff I went through, and help them feel amazing. Everyone deserves to live a full, healthy, fulfilling life so I hope I was able to give you guys some insight on who I am, and where my passion comes from.
All the best,
” A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”