Alysha's Story - Prioritizing Self-Care

"In between your goals, remember that there's a little thing called life that has to be liked and enjoyed."

This isn’t meant to be some stereotypical post about how I “got healthy,” but I thought I would share my experience.

Before all this, I felt so incredibly tired and unmotivated. No matter how much sleep I got per night, even including naps throughout the day sometimes, it didn’t help. I have a very busy lifestyle; in university, working as a shift manager at a high-volume Starbucks in downtown Montreal, living on my own, involved in 3 extracurricular groups and activities. There’s no doubt that I would feel tired with my lifestyle, but the extent of exhaustion I felt constantly was in no way normal nor healthy. I would doze off during the day often, making my normal daily stress heightened by lack of concentration. Through all this, I blamed my busy schedule as opposed to what was the real cause of the problem. Even though I had a seemingly “active” lifestyle by the amount of things I did in a day, I really wasn’t active at all. I would go home and crash at the end of the day, and I would take out the stress of a long day on food.

My mental health was also greatly affected by this physical tiredness. The lack of concentration in my university classes caused a great deal of stress, as I was not internalizing any of the information I was “learning” throughout the day. I would go home tired, crash -- getting me behind on work instead of using that time to catch up. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t seem to get myself out of. In my work life, I was also having a hard time keeping up with tasks and the extra responsibilities that come with being in a managerial role. I was overly emotional when things went wrong or not to plan. I had a difficult time staying motivated and enthusiastic during the day, which in turn would have allowed my shift to run more smoothly. I work opening shifts which require me to be at work at 6am. The ability for me to wake up at 5am on work days was becoming increasingly difficult as this cycle progressed, and I would wake up unhappy most days due to the sheer tiredness I felt constantly. I started to become frustrated and unhappy in the things that used to bring me joy in life. I started to blame my busy schedule for my lack of fulfillment with life when before this, I genuinely enjoyed being busy and being out of the house. It was when I got to this low point in life when an opportunity presented itself to change something in my life that I knew was contributing to this unhappiness. My relationship with food.

My diet, which was pretty carb heavy, was causing this extreme exhaustion. Your diet is the root of all things health-related, and only when I made the choice to cut out “junk” food, did I start to get my energy back. I was put into a situation where myself, as well as many other people in my inner circle, were cutting out things that they found to be “unhealthy” in their lives. In my mind, I knew my relationship with food was purely a reward based system. If I made it through the day and got everything done that I needed to do, I would reward myself with sweets. For regular meals, I was just eating to eat and eating to be full, not really thinking about what I was putting into my body. In these 21 days, I pushed myself to cut out all things “junk food." Instead of rewarding myself with food, I rewarded myself with praise to myself and remind myself of my own self worth at the end of the day. I would literally tell myself how proud I was for getting through the day and how awesome it was that I did it all without food rewards. This changed my perspective on what I was prioritizing in my life, and what parts of myself I needed to work on; being the way I reward myself for having a good day, as well as the way I deal with my frustration after a long day that didn’t go to plan. I came out of this having a much more healthy relationship with food, but more importantly, a much healthier relationship with my body physically, as well as my mental health and the way I congratulate and give myself praise. This opportunity gave me a chance to get to love myself and applaud myself again for the things I do and the things I can and have accomplished in my day to day life.

So, with that said, take care of your bodies. Put as much attention and effort into them as you are putting out to your work, and you will start to see changes. I didn’t do this for weight loss or societal expectations, I did it for me. Remember that the convenience and comfort of junk food seem great in a fast-paced lifestyle such as mine, but if you’re eating the wrong things, how can you keep up to it in the first place? I’m now eating more protein based meals each day, I still allow myself to snack (but on the right things such as granola bars and fruit), and go to the gym at least once a week (sometimes more when I have extra time). I’m not perfect, I’m sure others are doing much more than I am to stay healthy and active, but I’m happy, I feel good and I am proud of myself. That’s what counts.

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