They say that life isn't about finding yourself it's about creating yourself. Often times we see happiness as a destination that will be reached when we become the "perfect" version of ourselves. (You know, the super fit, extra pretty, wealthy version. With shiny things, a fancy car, a nice butt, and perfect skin). We tend to waste the authentically good moments and blessings envisioning something better in the future. Once we reach the good, we want better. And when we reach the better, we want best. Society shapes us in this way. There's always something bigger, something better. There's always something we don't have. There's always an imperfection we can find that needs to be fixed about ourselves. The opportunity for continual improvement is extremely motivating and while it can be a very healthy form of empowerment, when is enough, enough? When will we finally be satisfied with what we have now rather than what we want in the future? The problem is that (most of us, myself included) fail to give ourselves enough credit. I became extremely aware of this when I got home from treatment. Even if I did 97% of what I was suppose to be doing in my day, I was beating myself up for that 3% thst I wasn't. I failed to give myself credit for how far I had come. I see this trend in so many people in my own life. No matter if we spend our whole day being wonderful and doing amazing things for other people, we still hate the way our jeans fit or how our hair looks (especially girls). It doesn't matter if we spend an hour on the treadmill and only eat lettuce all day, we still find a way to look at ourselves in the mirror and think about what could be better. I didn't really realize how many insecurities I had in my life. I felt like I was normal, and that's the sad thing... I was. I looked at my body as the last trait I was proud of about myself. I use to dread going to the gym because I had the wrong intentions. I wanted to count the calories burned on the cardio machine and find a quick fix to a dream body. I had an unrealistic daydream that one day I'd hop off that stair stepper and by the time I got home, Id magically have lost 5 lbs. I use to eat according to the food label. A few years ago I avoided anything with fat, sugar, or carbs even if it meant eating something that was 0 calories and full of artificial ingredients that were harmful to my body. I didn't know what the names of the chemical filled ingredients were, but ate them anyway. "Only 100 calories for this pack of mini Oreos?! Sweet. Bring it on. Actually I'll take 2 and skip lunch." Like what?!! How distorted is that?! But it's where I was at and sadly where a lot of people's heads wander. I feared gaining weight and I tried so hard to lose it. I was constantly making myself miserable. I'd even feel guilty for eating an avocado because it had a lot of fat.
Over the past few years my eating has shifted, but body image was still an issue for me. I wasn't ever happy with the way I looked. I was constantly bloated and uncomfortable (which having four baked potato sized tumors in your body definitely contributes to) but I had such an unhealthy relationship with my scale and my mirror. My mood for the day depended on a number. Id weigh myself every morning before I ate anything or had a sip of coffee, and Id weigh myself AT LEAST two more times throughout the day. I honestly joked with my roommate about how I was excited that having the surgery to remove the tumors would help me lose a little weight. Which is crazy to me to even think that way now.
My journey at Oasis showed me that your body is an amazingly incredible machine. And cancer showed me you only get one of them. The best part about the human body is that it has the ability to heal and the ability to change at anytime. What you put in your body and what you get out of it dictate its function. No man made machine can compare to what God has created for us. I started to view my body in a much healthier light. I still have struggles, but most of that baggage of constantly worrying about my physical appearance has faded drastically. The gratitude I have for a healthy body is endless. Now I workout to kill Cancer. I workout to sweat and release toxins. I don't pay attention to the numbers on the machine and I don't weigh myself afterward. I'm not so hard on myself and I certainly enjoy it a whole lot more. I'm not even close to being the most fit in the gym and that use to really intimidate me, but now it motivates me. I eat to nourish rather than to deplete. And I have no ball park estimate about the amount of calories I eat. But I can guarantee you I count the chemicals.
I was once asked if it's difficult for me to bite my tongue when I see people eating certain foods or doing unhealthy things, and the answer is no. It doesn't bother me. I've realized that we all have different areas we're strong in, and I use to (and still sometimes) fail to take note that I have areas of strength as well. I've gained tremendous knowledge about health but I'm far from perfect and don't pretend to be. I never want to make anyone feel like what they are doing isn't good enough just because I do things differently. I know what it's like to be discouraged. But being discouraged that I'm not the best in all areas got me no where and made me constantly unhappy with myself, to the point where I didn't even realize it anymore. By no means did I have an eating disorder nor an illness of any sort, but I had what is sadly considered normal. It's something that many people I know also go through. Maybe not with body image but in other areas of life.
When I got home from treatment, I definitely went through what they call "survivors guilt." I didn't feel worthy and I didn't think my day to day routines were ever good enough. I remember a specific Tuesday. I had done a coffee enema that morning, went to vitamin c therapy, and got tons of organic produce to make juice and prep meals. Although I had been very productive, I got back to Lisa's and broke down. I was exhausting myself. I was doing everything I could, but for some reason I kept telling myself it still wasn't enough. I had such a pressure to be perfect because I was given a tremendously outrageous gift of a second chance at life. The funny thing is that everyone around me was encouraging me and proud of me. I was the only one holding myself to such an unrealistically high standard.
That day was a turning point for me and I'm still working out the kinks. I don't eat 100% raw, but I'm 100% vegan. I still go out to party because being with a bunch of friends at once talking and laughing is something I enjoy. I don't always drink but there will always be a part of me that loves some vodka every now and then. Regardless of the time or place I will be on the dance floor and I'll more than likely make a fool of myself. I enjoy organic red wine. I attend church and give God praise. Sometimes it brings me to tears. I like to sit on Pinterest for hours finding new recipes and methods of alternative healing. I'm suppose to avoid drinking coffee, but I've found that my ideal morning is to have a cup of coffee and good conversation with someone who means a lot to me. With as spiritual as I am, I don't know how to read the bible. I'm ashamed to admit that and this is the first time I've ever said it aloud. It's something im working on, but it in no way alters my relationship with the Lord. I cry very easily at movies and virtually anything even remotely sad. I hate running. But I'll walk with friends, bike, and even lift weights to pretend like I'm super tough. My point is that everyone's at a different point. No two people are good at the exact same things, have the exact same quirks, desires, dreams, or fears. And it's a beautiful thing to be so different. So now, when I see a trait I don't have, I use it as a source of inspiration and admiration. I look at what I am good at and embrace the areas of life I aspire to improve on.
If I could summarize my purpose of this post in one quote this would be it, I've seen it posted a couple of times and its stuck with me ever since.
Embrace all sides of who you are. The good, the beautiful, the quirky, the ugly, and the embarrassing. Quit living to ridiculously high standards. Make attainable goals and reward yourself for attacking them like a pro. Compliment other people because it feels good. Let go of people who don't appreciate all that you are. Learn how to lift up someone else without simultaneously tearing yourself down. Whether your idea of health means giving up pop or taking a walk every day or it means running a marathon or becoming a vegetarian, or anything outside of that, be proud of yourself for your personal journey. Pat yourself on the back. Keep moving forward and don't ever look back unless it's in sheer positivity.