In my whole 20 years of life I have gone through so many “lifestyle changes.” Or so I thought… Back in high school I went through phases…paleo, dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian (for a VERY limited time). I never stuck with anything. I always started and got really good at whatever it was I was doing, and then a month later got bored and gave up.
It wasn’t until I realized that lifestyle changes meant being consistent and doing something for you, and not because it was the current fad or trend at the time — but because it was what your body needed to feel good and thrive.
My first actual lifestyle change, was going 100% gluten-free my junior year of high school in Feb. 2015.
Growing up I always attributed my digestive system issues to having a “sensitive stomach.” I was never a fan of fast food or anything too greasy or sugary. I always opted for fruits and veggies as a snack to the typical Pop-tart or Goldfish my elementary school counter parts always had.
It wasn’t until I became familiar with footzonology and whole food/ plant based diets that I ever pay attention or try and change the things I put into my body. My footzonology journey is a whole other story I have yet to tell you guys, but stay tuned because it is definitely a work in progress you want to hold out for.
Around sophomore year of high school my mom made the executive decision for my family to go gluten free. For about a month I ingested almost not gluten or wheat products and I felt FANTASTIC.
It was the first time in years that I didn’t feel sick, bloated, or constipated after eating anything other than fruits or vegetables. But being the stubborn high school student I was, as soon as my mom’s obsession passed, I went back to eating what I always had — gluten.
About a year later my health started to drastically decline. I was stricken with migraines, excessive weightless, fatigue, and just feeling really sick and weak overall.
In about 2 months I lost almost 20 pounds and you could tell my body was suffering. My skin was pale, almost greyish, my hair was thinning, and my eyes and face looked sickly. My parents took me to all sorts of specialist and I was put through multiple blood tests, MRIs, and CTs, in an attempt to figure out what was wrong with me.
After about a month of trying to figure out what was making me so sick, a random “might as well” blood test we through into the mix came back positive. My immune response to gluten was 70 times out of the normal range. I was schedule for an upper endoscopy to confirm the test and assess the damage to my small intestine from my new found diagnosis of Celiac Disease.
The only way someone with Celiac Disease can stay healthy is by maintaining a 100% gluten and wheat free diet — so that’s what I did.
Now, 4 years later, I’m what you would call gluten-free… but I’m not gluten free because it’s cool, and healthy, and my favorite fitness Instagrammers swear by it. I’m gluten free because I have to– and if I don’t I rot my body from the inside out.
Within the last 3 or so weeks I have been pretty much dairy free. I went into the new year with the idea of going vegan, but as an athlete and someone who doesn’t fully believe in restricting themselves 100% without any leniency, I decided vegan wasn’t the right path for me.
For the past 6 months I have tried my best to stay away from dairy as much as I could, but would eat/ drink it in coffee, pizza, and ice cream… so dairy free but not really.
But for the last 3 weeks I have actually been dairy free and loving it. I have always known that dairy contributes to my skin and gastrointestinal (GI) issues, but I haven’t really done anything with that knowledge until recently.
I don’t eat milk based ice cream, I order my pizza without cheese, and use alternative milks in my coffees, and use coconut based yogurts in my smoothies and overnight oats.
Whole Food/ Plant Based
The last 6 weeks I have made the transition into a plant based diet. I do eat meat and eggs, so I’m technically not vegan, but I try my best not to eat meat as best I can.
I don’t digest or process food as well or as normally as your average 20 year old, so I have to be super conscious about what I put into my body because if I don’t, I wake up bloated and constipated.
I try my best to stay away from overly processed foods., but I don’t deprive myself from eating out or enjoying something unhealthy. I’m strict, what so ever, on what I eat, but 6/7 days of the week I eat at home with fresh, plant based ingredients and products.
I do it because I love it. It’s fun cooking at home and being able to create and enjoy recipes in my own kitchen. And I love feeling good. My body takes a hit when I stray from my typical food habits and it’s never fun feeling weighed down and sluggish because you ate too much Pad Thai the night before.
Wake Up Early, Sleep Early
Every morning I wake up around 6am to give myself enough time to wake up, get ready for the day, take care of Chapman, and eat before I head off to work and class.
I love waking up early because it give me time to do all of the things I enjoy doing in order to start my day without the stress of cramming into a measly 45 minutes.
But with waking up early, comes with going to bed early. I am often called a grandma or jokingly asked how old I am because I am almost always in bed by 10 or 10:30 every night, even on the weekends.
A helpful tip I have turned into a very reliant habit is setting alarms on my phone as bedtime warnings. I have an alarm that goes off every night at 9:30 pm to remind myself to start winding down, wash my face, and get ready for bed. I have another alarm at 10 pm that yells at me to hurry up and get my butt into bed.
For the average person, you are supposed to drink 1/2 your weight in ounces. For my, I drink about 1.5x my weight in ounces. I go thorugh an average of 200 ounces of water per day.
Every morning as soon as I wake up, I drink about a cup (8oz) of water. During breakfast I drink another 8-12oz of water. Then throughout the day I drink multiple bottles of water. I make sure to always carry my water bottle with me — I never leave the house without it.
Recently, I’ve been carrying 2 water bottles with me… I’m very very picky with which tap or water fountain water I drink so if I carry 2 full bottles with me, I most likely won’t need to refill until I get back home to my beloved Brita.
Lastly, I chug probably 24-50oz of water before I go to bed. I always keep at least 1 full 24oz mason jar next to my bed so I can easily reach over and chug right before I hit the hay.
This is a super strange habit I have, but it really helps me wake up not feeling dehydrated. It also helps me jump start the movement of my large intestine when I wake up (tmi — early bowel movements)
I Don’t Deprive My Self
This habit is centered more around food. I try my best to stay away from things that don’t sit well with my stomach/ boy, but if I’m really craving something, I’ll give in.
This has significantly helped me with not going out and binging on everything I try to stay away from (ice cream, Hot Cheetos, popcorn, candy etc.) In my normal everyday life I try to stay away from chips and unhealthy foods like the ones previously mentioned, but if I go out to the movies with friends, or have a Bachelor night with the girls, I allow myself a free pass. I have learned to not stress or punish myself for “being unhealthy” or choosing the less healthy option (pizza over salad).
You just can’t live life restricting yourself of everything unhealthy. Live yo life girl!!
It has taken me many months, even years, to figure out what works for me and actually stick with it. There are so many thing I wish I did in my everyday life, that I just haven’t fully implemented — it’s definitely a slow work in progress.
Everyone has at least one thing they wish they did differently, or wish they could do. I say try it! Do it for a week and then do it for another and another and another, until it becomes habit. Habits take awhile to form and it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to do them every. single. day.
You can do it!