I've been quiet on the blog since coming back from Hungary, largely because this semester has been difficult in many ways and I haven't had the words to express everything I'm feeling and processing. I hope to write more about it in the future, but in the meantime I'd like to share about one area of my life that I have grown in recently.
I’m about to turn 22, and in looking back my life looks a bit different today then it did a year ago. Like the majority of people in our society, I’ve always struggled to be kind to my body and view it in a positive light. Ever since coming to college, this has only gotten worse as poor eating habits became the norm. The plethora of desserts at the dining hall, the academic stress and busyness, the constant stream of free food being handed out everywhere you turn… Let’s just say freshman 15 was definetely a thing and “treat yo self” was my life mantra.
People used to laugh when I would say I was addicted to food, but I really was. I still LOVE food and love eating, but the problem was that I reached a place where I wasn’t able to say no to unhealthy food anymore - despite wanting to. Food controlled me and left me in a constat cycle of disempowerment, self-loathing, and frustration.
However since January I’ve finally taken control in this area of my life. Through eating healthy and being mindful of what I eat (I use the app MyFitnessPal), plus getting active, I’ve shed 20 lbs, haven’t been sick once, haven't had as many migraines as I used to, and have had significantly more energy. But more than anything, I simply feel great from the inside out. I’ve discovered new passions for food, nutrition, and healthy eating and living. I can’t stop reading work from Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, and countless bloggers. I feel healthy and I feel empowered.
Througout this process, I’ve realized that transitioning to a healthier lifestyle isn’t about the number on the scale, it’s about thriving. It shouldn’t be driven by self-hate and extreme denial, but instead by self-love and respect for your body. In a broken food system built on injustice and contradictions, it’s about resistence and choosing to feed yourself in a way that is nourshing, sustainable, and that treats farmers, producers, and animals with dignity. It’s about becoming just a bit more fully alive.
On that note, to continue to push myself, I’ve signed up for a half marathon. I’ve never been very coordinated or athletically inclined, and I also deal with exercise-induced asthma and Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), so committing to running a half marathon is forcing me to face some fears. ITBS in particular has been an issue as i've begun training, but i'm going to keep moving forward (literally). I'll definitely not be the fittest or fastest, but that's not what it is about anyways. It's simply about getting moving and pushing yourself to be the best you can be.
So on September 26, 2015 I’ll be running in the Holland Hospital Park2Park Half Marathon with a few friends I studied abroad with. I’ll also be running with Team World Vision, raising money to fund clean water, santiation, and hygiene (WASH) programs. I had the privilege of visiting a World Vision WASH program in Burundi in 2011. While there, I realized the difficulty of accessing water in remote areas and how WASH programs benefit the communities World Vision partners with. Specifically, access to water is vital in that it changes the lives of children by improving their health and nutrition and by allowing them to go to school instead of spending their day fetching water (as I experienced, a very strenuous task in Burundi's hilly countryside).
With World Vision, $50 will provide clean water for one person for a lifetime. With my fundrasining goal of $1,310, each mile I run will bring water to two people. Please consider partnering with me in this journey as I strive to support the work of World Vision, challenge myself, live healthy and empowered, and celebrate my 22nd year of life – you can click here or on the photo below to donate. Or if you just want more information about transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, nutrition, food justice issues, joining me in running the half marathon, or anything at all, just let me know! Because if I can get healthy, trust me, you can too. So here's to the ability we all have to change our lives, to love ourselves better, to live more fully, and make a difference in the world while we're at it.