2017 has been a solid year. I adopted a little angel dog, regained a sense of purpose by going back to school, and basically transformed my entire diet from complete shit to a balanced, *mostly* healthy one. I made new friends and let go of toxic friends. I took 2017 to really look within and do some soul searching, taking time to find what makes ME happy. Oh, and I drank A LOT of lattes.
It’s funny, if you told me five years ago that I was going to leave my friends and family for a new city, I would of had a nervous break down. Of course, I have my best friend, my rock, Sam. My mom also recently moved to St. Louis which has been absolutely amazing. I’m not going to lie though, Foxy and I spent many days alone watching Top Chef reruns and taking long walks through our neighborhood. And that’s okay. I think everyone could benefit from some alone time, you learn what makes YOU happy without trying to impress the people around you. (Although, with social media, no one is ever TRULY alone, are they? But that’s a whole other topic.) In any case, it was nice having this year to focus on myself, my relationship and school. I was able to examine the friendships that I do have closely, which led to removing people from my life that I felt were toxic in any way. As an adult, you’re allowed to do that, and let me tell you, it feels good. Always be kind, but never jeopardize your happiness in order to please other people. Life’s too short. Stand up for what you believe in with no fear, and remain true to yourself. Always.
I have LOVED inspiring and motivating my friends and family to make small diet changes through social media. Nothing makes me happier than waking up to a message from someone telling me that they switched their breakfast from the usual donut to an egg sandwich with avocado because of my posts. I want to be that motivation for people. It’s something that I feel strongly about, and I certainly needed motivation when I began to eat healthier, and still love hearing tips and new ideas from you all. I want to encourage people with absolutely no judgement, because I think there is not enough of that in this social media world. I am definitely not rich, I didn’t grow up rich, and I ate a Pop-tart for breakfast every morning for months at a time. I get it. In 2018 I hope to continue to share inexpensive and easy ways to make small, effective diet changes without passing any judgement. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?
As nice as the alone time has been, in 2018 I plan to submerge myself into this awesome city as much as possible. Whether it be a new yoga class, an art show, or a concert, I want to be more involved in the St. Louis community. It’s easy to get into the rut of just staying home, and as much as I love having a routine, it’s also good to be adventurous and meet new people. Instead of taking the nap or watching the hour of TV, I am really going to try to make myself get out of the house and DO something. I can’t wait.
Something that I don’t talk about often is my spirituality. I’m definitely not a religious person, but I do believe in SOMETHING and feel so much more whole when I take the time to connect to myself and the higher power through prayer and meditation. It’s easy to forget to make time for this (if it’s something you believe in) but I benefit in so many ways when I do. Whether it’s sitting in a quiet, dark room on a yoga mat with my crystals, or merely closing my eyes before bed and clearing my mind, I love exploring my personal spiritual connection. It’s a way for me to disconnect from technology and from the stress of everyday life, and focus on myself and my thoughts. Everything stops for a bit, which is rare in this busy world, and I feel a huge sense of peace and calmness afterwards. Def making meditation a priority in the coming year.
I don’t really love the term “New Year’s Resolution”…I feel like these set people up for failure because they are usually not sustainable and unrealistic goals. If you want to eat better, make small, easy changes in areas that you can, but if you want the cookie, eat the f*cking cookie. From my personal experience, strict diets and rigaris 7-day a week workout plans are hard to stick to, and BALANCE is the most important thing. It’s good to reflect and recognize things that you can improve upon in the coming year, but be easy on yourself. I used to make crazy lists of “New Year’s Resolutions”, stick with them for about a month, then revert back to my unhealthy lifestyle. Not sustainable. Slow and steady wins the race, so remember to be proud of yourself for little changes here and there, and strive for a balanced lifestyle, knowing that you won’t be perfect 100% of the time.
I’m looking forward to a new year, new friendships, and new experiences. I’m thankful that I have such an awesome support group and for the people that I’ve met since living here. I’m thankful for my sweet Foxy and kitten, and for the encouragement that I receive from you all to keep living a healthy lifestyle. It means the world to me.
Have a Happy New Year, everyone!
Lizzy In The Lou
After several failed attempts, I successfully became a pescatarian and *mostly* dairy-free (props to everyone who can permanently ditch cheese) almost six months ago. Sounds cliché, but through the process I have truly gained a new appreciation for my own willpower and the ability to say no to certain foods that I would have scarfed down no prob before. The pork carnitas in San Antonio looked so f*cking good. In other words, I’m proud of myself, because it’s not always easy. It’s interesting, the importance of clean eating was instilled in me from a very early age, but wasn’t applied to my adult life until recently.
Growing up, my mom was vegan for the majority of my childhood. She was a single parent and full-time student, but always managed to cook healthy meals for us and shop organically as much as she could. No matter where we were financially, she made clean eating a priority in our household and taught me the many benefits of consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables. Wonder Woman, right? As thankful as I am now for the knowledge that she passed along to me, I was not always as appreciative. I remember being embarrassed as a kid by the wheat bread sandwiches and carrot sticks that my mom packed me for lunch. HA! I wanted to bring Lunchables and Gushers like the cool kids. In the third grade my friends were allowed to drink soda and I wasn’t, so I started sneaking change every morning from our coin jar so that I could buy a Coke at lunch from the school’s vending machine. That didn’t last long, of course. Mom quickly found out.
When I got older and could make food for myself, I ate like complete shit. I honestly think that I was just rebelling from what my mom had taught me, because that’s what know-it-all young adults do…or at least, that’s what I did. Turns out, she was right. I was miserable. I had acne, was constantly bloated, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to throw up three nights a week because I have an incredibly sensitive stomach and was eating so poorly. Instead of finding the root of the problem, I continued to indulge in processed, fatty foods because they tasted good. I did not drink near enough water, hardly ate vegetables, and could usually be found going through the Steak ‘n Shake drive-through. Ugh.
When Sam and I moved to St. Louis, something changed. I was determined to make grocery shopping and cooking at home a priority. I think leaving my job at Regis, which was located in the mall with an abundance of extremely accessible fast food, played a large role in my diet switch. I quickly discovered Trader Joe’s, fell in love, and without even fully realizing it, started my journey of clean eating. I tried the Whole 30 diet for a month (basically a diet full of veggies, fruit, and meat), I felt pretty good, but didn’t feel that it was the best fit for ME. I was still bloated and had frequent stomach aches. I know that some people have had tremendous success with the paleo diet, which is why I always say that as individuals, no two people are the same. What works for me, may not work for you. Finding the right combination that meshes well with your body takes time. ANWAY, one night Sam and I turned on the popular documentary What The Health and I was immediately sucked in. While watching, everything that my mom had taught me about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding meat/dairy, and limiting processed foods came streaming back and hit me like a ton of bricks. I paid close attention and was reminded of the health, ethical and environmental purposes that my mom did not eat meat for. When the documentary ended, I turned to Sam and said “I’m doing it. I’m going vegan.” I laid out my concerns to him about fearing that people would constantly feel the need to make special accommodations for me, or they would think it was weird. He was so supportive and reassured me that if it was something that I wanted to do, I had to go for it. After that night, I was strictly vegan for three months. I wasn’t bloated, I had no stomach aches, and my acne completely went away.
It was almost like a reset for my body. So many positive things came from those three months, things that I didn’t even expect to happen…I had more energy, my hair was shiny, and I lost ten pounds. As time went on, I adapted a new approach to eating where I listened to my body. If I was craving a salad, I had a huge salad packed with leafy greens. If I was craving a brownie, I had a brownie, substituting as many ingredients as I could for healthier ones. One day, I was desperately craving a piece of salmon. It went against my ‘diet’, but I knew that if I didn’t allow myself to have it, I would binge three days later on a hamburger and fries from Five Guys. So I made a bowl with wild caught salmon, quinoa, and roasted broccolini. I paid close attention to how I felt after eating, and realized that I wasn’t bloated, I didn’t get sick, and I didn’t feel AS guilty for ethical reasons (I know, I know, fish have feelings too). After this, I incorporated more seafood into my diet, which led me to bring other things back, still listening to my body and being mindful of how the foods made me feel.
I have found a very successful balance for ME. I eat seafood, tons of vegetables, and occasionally, cheese. I try to know where my food is coming from, and have learned to CHECK INGREDIENTS. Sugar sneaks in EVERYWHERE. I listen to the signals that my body sends me, and try to accommodate as best I can. This approach has made me feel the best, and has been the most maintainable with my current lifestyle. We are all unique, so our diets should also be unique. I don’t believe that there’s strictly one formula for everyone, and that it’s okay to pick aspects from different diets, as long as you FEEL good. That’s what life’s all about, right? Also, listen to your mom. She’s usually right.
Lizzy In The Lou