First and foremost, I want to acknowledge that writing the words,”my wellness journey” makes me feel like a complete tool and I apologize for my utter cheesiness. I really thought about it, and there’s just no better way to describe it. So, at the risk of sounding like a contestant on The Bachelor, I want to talk about My Journey.
It started about a year ago, and it started very small. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and thought, “Wow, I should totally rethink my entire lifestyle!” But I was at a point in my life where the things that used to fulfill me just weren’t cutting it anymore. I’d just completed my master’s degree and was completely burned out. Then I was put on a very difficult, high-pressure project at work. It was the kind of thing that used to invigorate me, but I was sort of miserable.
Finding an alternative
I’ve always been one of those people who is her job. I’m not married, I have no kids–which is perfectly fine (duh) and also intentional. But it gives me a lot of time between work hours to…think about work. Without significant distractions at home, I tend to live my job. And when things at work are particularly rough? Not so fun. I was stuck in my own head, stewing, fretting, planning, etc. I needed somewhere else to put my energy.
At this point, I’d gained some extra weight–between finishing up my thesis and this new project at work, I was getting to know Postmates deliverymen on a first-name basis. You know that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda gets laughed at by the Chinese takeout lady? Yeah.
I’ve got rods in my spine from scoliosis surgery, which come with some physical limitations, so exercising is difficult. I can’t just hop on an elliptical, even if I wanted to, which I don’t. But I knew I wanted to do something.
One day, on a whim, I decided to look up options for a trainer on Thumbtack. (Side note: Thumbtack is the coolest website and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for any specialized service!) With my back issues, having a trainer who can adapt workouts to my limitations is super helpful. I’d always wanted to try yoga, but wasn’t able to join a normal class (see: rods in spine). But I found someone who mixes in light Pilates and cardio with yoga. She has worked with me, very (very, very) slowly and now I’m almost not horrible at a few positions. Namaste!
The wellness domino effect
With yoga, came diet. Now I want to be clear that I am not talking about A Diet. I’ve just decided to start eating healthier. Not quite intuitive eating, because it’s hard to break yourself from old habits, but just trying to listen to my body more and give it good things. First, because it’s the right thing to do, but also because private yoga lessons are effing expensive and I didn’t want to totally throw my money down the drain by following each yoga sesh with a McDonald’s run.
(Side note: If you want to learn more about intuitive eating, I recommend Becca Bristow on YouTube. She can be a little extra perky, but it’s good info and helpful to hear when you’re struggling. She has an overview here.)
As I started eating better and getting stronger, I found myself wanting to do more for myself. What other exercises could I try? Should I start meditating? What are superfoods and how do I eat them? Will I get super powers? How do you pronounce açaí?
Fast forward a few months, and I’m working out more frequently. I’ve started making more meals at home and eating more vegetables. I downloaded a meditation app and am trying really hard to give it five minutes every day. I still don’t know how to say açaí. But you know what? I’m not living and breathing my work stress. When I come home, I have activities to distract me, so I’m not just replaying the day’s shitty meeting or worrying about tomorrow’s presentation. I mean, I still am, but I’m also doing things for my own mental and physical health.
It’s a pretty good start.
Getting here, staying here
There is probably nothing harder than taking care of yourself.
Getting to this point was rough for me, and I’m conveniently leaving out the years before of being depressed, overworked, and broke. I don’t want to sound like I snapped my fingers and transformed, or that it’s not still difficult. It is. I fuck up. I go to McDonald’s. I cancel my yoga session because I had a bad day at work. I beat myself up over these mistakes, even though I know that they’re not mistakes at all–they’re just things that happen because I’m a human person.
What I’m trying to say is, this is where I am now. Am I living my best life? I don’t know. But I’m trying.