Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Matters Most? + Who Do I Trust?

Hey friends!

Have you ever been in a situation where rules just don't apply? Or where the rules you've set for yourself just don't seem to give the better option? Where instead of feeling proud of yourself for following these set "rules", you simply just feel lost and longing. You question these rules... Have you ever felt that way?

I sure am. It isn't easy - but I've been trying something new: I have not been following these set rules. I'm beginning to try living a lifestyle without a general label pasted over it. Some people do wonderful with this method - this method of using a label to explain what they can or can't eat, or what the do or don't like. But I'm starting to realize that I just don't seem to work well with the label method.

The next few months are going to be interesting - experimental, for sure. These days have already been verrry interesting. And honestly, quite wonderful. I've made some mistakes, but I might also have made some groundbreaking discoveries for myself.

Diet-wise, I've been asking myself a lot lately, "What matters most?" Is it following the perfectly set, cookie-cutter rules no matter what? Or does following reason, logic, and simply listening to my own body matter more? I've tried the former, and I'm currently testing the latter. So far, the latter is winning.  
Ok, so here's the issue with the former, label-style way of eating. Maybe someone can relate. When I label my diet, I tend to overstress. I overstress because I'm always concerned about if I'm representing the label properly. I overstress because when I'm traveling, touring, or just performing for a day (which happens a lot as a student musician), I have to make a choice: 1) Eat the vegan thing, whether it's healthy or not, or 2) eat anything else, then feel immense guilt because I didn't follow my lifestyle. And this also happens a lot: When I force myself to stay vegan while traveling, I end up eating far worse, sometimes because of the limited resources available (some people and places just don't understand the word vegan), and mostly because I get so desperate to try something else that I eat the bad stuff. Or how about this? I simply crave other food.
My way of thinking is not the diet's fault - everyone knows the wondrous benefits of a plant-based lifestyle - no, it's simply my own mind, and the way I work. Which is why I need to try a new method, to see if I can find something that works better.

I only share this in hope that someone - anyone - who is going through a similar thing can relax and realize that someone else feels that way too. I'm tired of trying to be the perfect, wannabe nutrition-lover who bottles up her own problems and pretends everything is perfect. I'm also tired of trying to follow everyone else's dogma.

Honestly, it's getting more and more difficult to know what's truly healthy and what's not. Everyone says conflicting things. Eat the carbs, don't eat the carbs, eat the meat, don't touch the meat, Saturated fat is your friend, fat is the devil, fruit is good in unlimited quantities, fruit is bad in excess.

I became vegan for mostly ethical reasons. Those values have barely changed. But instead of labeling myself as vegan, I'm going to explore other food too, and I'm going to try and think of the big picture in a different way. I want to eat local. I want to eat mindfully, whatever that may mean for me.

So what matters most? Health. Happiness.

Who do I trust with my health? Whomever I personally choose to trust.

What am I? A human being, a child of God, a healthy eater, free of labels but full of purpose and value.

Let's see if this works out...

~ Natalyn

P.S. Plants are still delicious ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

My struggle and my confession

Hey everyone,


You know those times where you say one thing but then you do another thing? The times where you're human and make mistakes even after you've claimed to have found the true way of doing things? Those times where you know very deeply... that you messed up.

Well, I just want to let you know you're not alone. And you're not perfect - no one is. Just because you get good at something doesn't mean you won't mess up from time to time - or maybe even a lot.

Let me tell you something about my health journey - it's far from flawless. I'm going to come clean to you right now -

... This is going to be interesting...

I love donuts. I.love. donuts. Ok? When I get tempted enough to eat three one, I hear all the facts in my mind - the years that I've spent researching that the oils and the sugars do not go together, that they kill the body, that they destroy us. Then I taste it, and for a generous amount of time, I feel amazing as each morsel of that sugary dream goes into my body. I feel hyper, and happy, and like nothing can stop me. I question everything - I question my plant-based lifestyle, I question my entire view of health, I question everything. Why am I trying so hard? Can't I treat myself every now and then? All these questions in my mind... But then, the next part always comes. This feeling in my gut - that feeling that something is wrong. Not really a stomach ache. Trying to avoid it, I stuff another donut down my throat. Then, if I'm still "hungry", I use that as an excuse and go for my third donut. For a while, all is well. In fact, I don't feel any sort of "punishment". The next day (or the next meal, perhaps), I go back to my healthy staples, still enjoying them thoroughly, when all of a sudden, the real disaster strikes. Fatigue. Stomach problems. Minor discomfort (sometimes major). Then I ask myself, "what happened?" Then I tell myself "It won't happen again". And then... I do it again. Guilt free, sometimes. This happens every now and then with donuts. And it happens every now and then with other things too.

So what does this mean? Am I a failure?

The old me would say yes. I'm challenging myself today to say no. I'm not a failure. I'm a human being, made by my Creator. I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I wasn't made to fail. I was made to succeed.

Will I eat another donut? Honestly, I don't know. I'm at a point in my health journey where I know so much, but my will is not always very strong. I'm opening up today because I realized that people don't need to hear another person telling everyone else how they eat and how they succeeded and how their lifestyle will fit anyone else's. That is great for some people, it is. Some of us need that - I did. But someone like me would also like to hear from a person who is struggling too, who is finding her way. Someone like me who dreams of a community of people who look out for each other and who have every intention of treating their body right, but are struggling to for various reasons. Someone who would completely understand when someone told them "being healthy is HARD!". Because you know what? It is.

Friends, we are human. We will mess up. But we must remind ourselves that our intentions are good - we want to treat our bodies right. We want to give them the very best. Let's not give up, and let's not think we're failing. For once, let's treat our bad mistakes with kindness instead of punishment. The consequences already happen to our bodies - we don't need our minds to turn against us too. We need to believe in ourselves more - these beautiful bodies our Creator gave us. Our bodies are capable of so much more than we realize.

"I am not a failure."

Have a beautiful week, everyone. :)

~ Natalyn