From Poptarts to Paleo
My Journey of Growth and Self-Reflection
I grew up hyperactive, disobedient, addicted to chocolate poptarts and mint n chip ice cream. I had Taco Bell at least twice a week (2 crunchy tacos, cinnamon twists and Code Red Mountain Dew. Every. Single. Time.) I never cleaned my room or did any chores. I frequented Urgent Care and the ER for headaches, stomach aches, sore throats, and fevers (my dad is a hypochondriac…)
In adolescence I was still hyperactive, and oftentimes mean, very mean in fact (especially to my mom..sorry mom!) I had panic attacks and crazy blowout arguments with my parents, friends and boyfriend. I had severe period cramps and digestive issues. I visited my doctor at least 6 times a year for sinus infections. I was still addicted to mint n chip, although I ate significantly less food in general because being a teenage girl in America pretty much entails disordered eating habits. I went to sleep late and could hardly wake up for school. I started smoking marijuana and drinking (sorry again, mom!) I did decently well in school–graduated with a 3.0, although my test scores and ACT score would indicate my GPA should have been much higher (I almost never did homework).
Then came college. I partied even more–more alcohol and pot, less sleep at night and more during the day, missing assignments, and LOTS of Totino’s pizza rolls. I don’t think I ever washed my sheets or cleaned my toilet. I ended up flunking out and moving back home with my parents after my sophomore year. In the span of 16-19 years old I also managed 3 speeding tickets and a possession of marijuana ticket (my gosh, I’m so sorry mom!)
After moving back home I got a job where I would meet the love of my life and the best influence and support I could have dreamed of, I got an internship, I quit said job and internship to become a substitute teacher in the local jail (my dream job at the time believe it or not), I finished school and graduated with a BA in Sociology, and I eventually said adios to all of my fellow hoodrat friends. I still ate like total crap and drank every weekend, though.
My menstrual and digestive symptoms were at their worst. I was doctor-hopping like a mad woman and finally found someone who didn’t dismiss my debilitating pain. I had my diagnostic surgery and the removal of several lesions on some of my organs. I woke up from anesthesia–which is honestly one of the worst feelings in the world in my opinion–with a confirmation: yes, you have a chronic illness for which there is no cure.
I was immediately grief-stricken, scared, upset, depressed, and in pain while recovering from surgery. There was also a tinge of undeniable relief of finally knowing that A) what I was experience was in fact NOT normal and B) I finally knew what was going on in my body.
After a few months of positive self-talk, research, and finding a community of fellow women, I was hit with the realization that I had the opportunity and knowledge to live my best life. And that’s when everything changed.
I took to eating well to fuel my body and reduce pain and inflammation. I almost completely cut out drinking. I started working out semi regularly. I began saying ‘no’ to social events I was either uninterested, too tired, or too overwhelmed to attend. I cleaned my room. I calmed down and stop having panic attacks. I began reading more and watching TV less. I started waking up earlier than 20 minutes before I needed to leave. I started going to sleep early.
I’d say the past 2 years has been devoted to introducing good habits and minimizing the bad ones; playing up my strengths and toning down my weaknesses. I’ve been in a constant state of growth–challenging myself to new ideas and new ways of thinking and doing. I’ve gotten more comfortable with who I am and more aware of my flaws.
So what’s the point of all of this?
No matter where you are or what you’ve been through or what identity you’ve embodied–be it the stoner, the college flunk-out, or the anxiety-stricken weirdo–you can change that. All it takes is some reflection–of yourself and your surroundings–and a burning desire to be happier and to have a better life.
There are two things you need to do:
- Cut ties with people who don’t reflect your true values. Do you want to be healthy? Do you want to be successful? To be committed to excellence and growth? To be inspired? Then you need to ditch the degenerates. Removing myself from my group of friends was the single most important thing I ever did for my health and happiness. Though I wouldn’t trade the keg stands, concerts, and blurry college parties for the world, it was time to bid farewell to those holding me back to make room for those who would lift me up.
- Do some serious, honest, and non-judgemental self-reflection.Ask yourself where you could use some help. Take notes on what contributes to your difficulties at work, in your relationship, with your family, etc. Take responsibility for those issues. When I finally came to terms with the fact that I am indeed an insecure, anxious, and oftentimes angry person, I was able to question why, and what I could do to improve. Accepting responsibility is not the same as accepting fault. And that is key. You might be angry, anxious, mean, lazy, etc. Those qualities, though not necessarily your fault, are your responsibility to own and to work on.
We must engage in self-reflection in order to accept responsibility for our flaws in an attempt to work through them.
If I can do it, so can you. I guarantee that not one single person I knew growing up would ever think I would be a health coach dedicated to helping others be healthy and happy. But here I am. More driven, passionate, knowledgeable, and hard-working than ever. And if I can get here, you can get there–wherever it is.
It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
And I’d like to also point out that self development is not about perfection, it’s about growth and progression. I am still fully flawed, but the difference now is in the self-awareness. I acknowledge my flaws and accept responsibility for them. This allows me to whole-heartedly work on being the best possible me.
I thought I’d highlight some of my major flaws for you here in hopes that it helps you to do some self reflection and really ask yourself where you can improve so you can live your best life!
Some of my worst qualities:
- I hate ‘losing’
- I like things done my way…or the highway
- I’m not one to ‘go with the flow’ very well
- I take things too personally
- I snap very easily
- I’m still very anxious
- I tend to put too much on my plate then complain about it
- I’m quick to take on others’ negative emotions
- I have some irrational insecurities
- I hate peanut butter
We’ll never reach perfection. But we can take solace in the fact that we are always striving to be better. By looking around and asking yourself if your surroundings reflect your values, you can begin to build the environment you need to thrive. By looking inward and coming to terms with your weaknesses, you will arm yourself with self-awareness that will propel you into the best you that you can possibly be. And isn’t that what we all want?