Progress, not perfection

As a child, I grew up being told as long as it was low fat or no fat, it was ok! Remember when the food pyramid in the ’90s had grains, cereals, rice, and bread at the base?

As a teen, I hurried from class or after-school activities, filling up with snacks and pop. My typical school lunch was Cheez-its with Pop Tarts and Laffy Taffy to go. After all, who had time to eat a real meal?

As an adult, sometimes I would restrict and then binge when it got too difficult. One summer in college, my “dinner” looked like cottage cheese and lettuce for days at a time. And never would I ever prioritize sleep…

I’m not going to say it has always been awful, but I’ve definitely seen my relationship with my body and food hop on the roller coaster over the years.

Five years ago I started exploring how to make healthier choices in a more comprehensive way – not the “all or nothing” approach of late 20s and early 30s.  My check ups showed my labs were moving in the wrong direction. At one visit, my doctor told me I had prediabetes among other issues. I had already experienced what did not work for me, so it was time to figure out what would work. I sought help (primary care, functional medicine/nutrition, program through insurance, endocrinology), took tests, considered their guidance, and tried out different things. 

Last year, I had to be honest with what is actually sustainable. Rather than making it such a big deal, I started with one simple lifestyle change. I drank more water. (Even water before coffee).

Then, I focused on nutrition, including plant-based options that I could take easily and daily. Eating for nourishment became my priority, while still enjoying food that I prepare at home or when I’m out with friends and family. I had a followup visit a few months later, where my labs showed improvement, and my blood pressure was back in normal range. 

From there, I added more changes slowly. I reminded myself to have fun. I started my day with a quick stretch and gratitude. I began following a morning routine and bedtime routine (that are easier said than done some days) and my sleep quality has improved. With more energy and confidence, I began moving my body more.

These days, I’ve added in consistent physical activity, and even participated in my first workout challenge during the summer. It was such an encouraging experience and I’m proud about how consistent I’ve been with my physical activity. Earlier, I joined a supportive community with others who are inspiring lifestyle changes and flourishing. I’m craving more foods that fuel me and leave me feeling great afterwards, like fresh greens from our vertical garden, and try to incorporate a wide variety of colors on my plate.

I know that I’m stronger, both mentally and physically. I’ve taken some time to reflect on my past ups and downs, and embrace them all as part of my journey. My goal is not about perfection, it’s about making progress. 

-Melissa

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