Art by Caitlin Roark
My journey toward health and wellness began when I moved to Malibu for college; as it turns out, I also moved away from what I now realize was a full-time, nutrition-conscientious chef (and chauffeur) in the form of my mother.
I grew up in a home where we never had dessert, and everything was organic. Pop-Tarts, soda, sugary cereals and other typical American childhood joys weren’t a part of my picture, but I never really understood why.
So when I went to college, I figured, ‘I’m an adult now, I can do and eat what I want.’ I stocked my dorm with endless processed and packaged snacks, Pop-Tarts included. I didn’t think about what these choices would do to my body or how they would make me feel. I just figured this was what everyone else did, plus it was cheap and convenient.
A year and a half later, I had gained over 20 pounds. On a five feet 2 inch frame, that is no joke. My skin was a mess, my energy was nonexistent and my mood swings were out of control. I couldn’t focus in class. I felt drained from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, and a heavy brain fog followed me everywhere I went despite my attempts to lift it with copious amounts of caffeine.
Needless to say, my happiness and confidence were at an all-time low. No matter what I wore, I felt too gross and too anxious to go out and face the world. I knew I needed to change and that I couldn’t keep living like this. I missed feeling good — feeling normal — and so I began to read.
My research introduced me to the concept of sugar addiction, a very real chemical dependency that nearly all of us have but so few understand the severity of. Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine and arguably just as toxic to our systems considering the frequency and volume at which our culture consumes it. The average American consumes between 150 and 170 pounds of sugar per year.
I decided to cut sugar out of my diet, and after about 10 days of intense withdrawals, the results were staggering. My skin began to clear up, my brain fog lifted and my energy was coming back.
Driven by the almost instant gratification of eliminating just one thing, I realized I was onto something. I continued to read medical journals and countless nutrition books, searching for ways to further relieve my symptoms. I learned that dairy is responsible for a ton of skin issues, so I cut dairy, followed by gluten, as I noticed my research aligned with my body’s response of a ‘food coma’ following any pasta, pizza, burger or any other staples of the American diet.
A month later, I had shed a significant portion of the weight gain, my skin was better than ever before, my eyes were brighter, my sleep was deeper and my mood swings had finally stabilized (much to the relief of my boyfriend). Even more significantly, my energy was higher than ever to the point where, for the first time in my life, I actually wanted to workout.
I didn’t grow up working out at all. In fact, my life before college was quite sedentary. I grew up in the cold so we did a lot of sitting around indoors to pass the time till summer came around again. It took a while to go from dreading my workouts to craving them, but making movement a priority has been hands-down the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
While at first it was about getting the weight off, I began to realize that the most overwhelming benefits were mental rather than physical. Despite the unavoidable chaos that comes with being a college student, consistent exercise has become absolutely invaluable to me. It has given me the clarity and strength of mind to finally rise above my anxious tendencies and tap into a person I didn’t know I could become: calm, centered and capable.
I always assumed being tired, sedentary and yes, I’ll admit, a little bit lazy, was just my personality. It turns out it was my diet and lack of exercise all along.
Everybody is different. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to nutrition and dietary issues. Cutting gluten, dairy and sugar is definitely hardcore and not for everyone. I’m here to share what’s worked for me and help anyone struggling to find balance and relief. Thanks to my journey, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the subject.
I find that our society is all too quick to label beauty, wellness and self-care as vain or shallow, but I believe that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. All too often, we take our bodies and everything they allow us to do for granted. We don’t often stop to think that while almost everything else in this life is replaceable — we will only ever have one body to carry us through it all.
I’m here to research, read, discover and rave to you about my tried-and-true favorites to help you invest in yourself, take care of yourself and love yourself. Life’s too short to abuse our greatest gifts: our bodies and our minds.
Let’s do this together. Email me — firstname.lastname@example.org — whatever you want to learn about health, wellness, fitness, beauty, or nutrition, and I will get to the bottom of it and get back to you right here. Struggling to separate trends from truth in a world where there’s a new superfood and supplement every day? I’ll do the dirty work and let you know what’s up. Dying to pull off the coveted “no makeup” makeup look for class and beyond? Let’s talk. Searching for the best cleanser based on skin type? I’ve got you. Tired of dealing with stubborn body weight or unhealthy habits? Let’s break them together.
I hope to give you the information you need to make educated choices about your health and wellness. As nutritionist Heather Morgan says, “With every bite we take, we are either fighting disease or fueling it.” Just a little food for thought.
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