New Beginnings & Starting Over
Ok, so it's no secret to anyone that knows me: I love food. And it's not just eating the food that I love. I love to cook and experiment with new recipes and ingredients. Sometimes I like to just try and make something up with whatever I have on hand and hope for the best. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. And I love to cook for others whether they're coming over to visit or I'm bringing something to them.
But I also love to learn about what food does for our bodies. I will geek out hard learning about gut health and how food effects that. Or why some foods are more likely to cause disease and others are more likely to prevent it. Or how we ended up eating the way we all do. It just fascinates me. And I think on some level, it always has, but once I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, it sent all of that curiosity and need for more information into overdrive.
This intense curiosity is a blessing and a curse. I learn so much and I find so many new foods and recipes that are so freaking delicious, but at the same time, nutrition can get really confusing. For every reputable article that says one thing is good for you, you can find just as many articles that say that very same thing is bad for you. And just when you think you found something that packs a ton of nutrition, tastes great, and makes you do that little happy dance we all do when something tastes amazing (whether you do this outwardly or to yourself)... you find out its bad for you because of x, y, and z. IT'S MADNESS! And it can be so frustrating and overwhelming.
I 100% get this. After my life started to go back to a somewhat "normal" existence (no more chemo, less doctor visits, less scans, etc.), I suddenly found myself really confused about what to eat. During treatments and for a short time after, I followed a very strict diet, which I think is really important if you're fighting disease. I started with macrobiotics and then transitioned into a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet. All plants. No processed foods, no added sugar, no caffeine, no dairy, no meat, no eggs. And maybe I should've done this for longer, but should really isn't one of my favorite words. Who honestly knows exactly what we should be doing all the time anyway?
I had some doctors who didn't seem to care one way or another what I was eating, as long as I was eating. I had some doctors that swore by the Paleo diet (This was when Paleo was the Keto of today). And I had some that swore gluten was the devil himself. It was so confusing!!!
But after trying all these different things and shifting my diet around, I came to the conclusion that a plant-based is the best diet for me. Now when I tell you I was confused, that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what this overwhelming, heavy feeling I had. I eventually got to the point where I was beginning to eat a lot of "healthy" junk food. Just because something is organic or vegan/plant based, doesn't mean it's healthy. And I knew that, but I ignored it. And I also experience this heavy guilt about eating differently than the people around me. I'm not talking about Stephen and my kids. They're amazing, and they go along with all the crazy stuff I do around here and keep an open mind about it.
It's social situations. It's family get-togethers. I have severe FOMO, especially when it comes to food. I want to just eat what everyone else is eating sometimes. And I don't want to always have to explain myself and my choices. I also don't like being judged, but who does honestly? It's a weird thing that happens when you're really sick. Everyone around you is super supportive of your choices because they just want you to get better, no matter what. At least that was my experience. But when you're "normal" again, it changes. Funny thing is: I'm not "normal" anymore. Maybe I never was? What I went through and all the changes I made are on my mind always...every day. And I don't mean to imply that all the people in my life are unsupportive of my choices. I actually have a lot of people that keep an open mind and are very supportive. I'm fortunate in that way. It's those specific occasions I'm mostly referring to.
People are very emotionally attached to food, and I've found that by saying, "No thank you. I don't eat xyz,"some people take that as a personal attack. But it never is, at least from me. I don't ever want to make anyone feel like shit for their own choices. If they ask me why I eat the way that I do, I'm happy to explain and answer any questions, but there are a significant number of people out there that just immediately feel upset that you've chosen not to eat something. Humans, am I right?
Anyway, what I've learned is that life is just a bunch of choices. Which makes it sound so simplified, but that's truly all it is. Some choices are really hard to make. And sometimes we have to make choices we never thought we would. And sometimes we're forced to make choices based on circumstance. And sometimes we make choices and later realize it probably wasn't the best one to pick. Either way, no judgement from me. Life is hard sometimes, and I'm not going to pretend I know it all. None of the issues I'm expressing with food are anyone else's fault. I'm not looking to place blame on anyone for the choices I've made. I have chosen to take these things on as problems and let them dictate the what I'm doing, but I'm choosing to make another choice now! Hooray! And it won't always be easy, and I won't be perfect, but that is ok!
What I've noticed over the years is that I lost this feeling you get when you're really healthy. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. It's a lighter than air, free feeling. It's so hard to describe, and I could never do it justice with words. I miss it. I want it back, and the only way to get there is to choose to do the things I know I need to do to get it back. That means I must tame the FOMO. I mean, because really, I'm not missing out on anything. The food I choose to eat really tastes better anyway, and, bonus, it makes me feel great too!
And physically, I just don't feel great. I get sleepy easily, especially around early evening time. I'm definitely not in the best shape I've ever been, despite teaching yoga. Honestly, my personal practice was pretty much non-existent before my back injury. And I just feel kinda lost. It scares me how much I'm starting to feel like I did before cancer. I never want to go back there. (I don't mean that I feel like I'm getting cancer again. What I mean is that where I was mentally/physically/emotionally before I was sick was not a fun place, and I came out of that after I got really sick and I definitely don't want to backslide into that again). Maybe this back injury happened to force me to slow down, reflect on where I am currently and where I actually want to be. The blood clot I experienced plays a factor in here as well, but I'll save that for another time. It's a long story, but you can read about it in my cancer blog here. Just look for entries from January 2016 and start there.
So here's to new beginnings and starting over! Choosing to change the things I know are not serving me, and taking responsibility for myself. I can't wait to see what happens next :)