At Blush and at FIT, sustainability is a major cause we care about. Eco-lumn (a play on the words eco and column) serves to inform our readers on the ongoing changes and advances within the sustainability movement within our community, and throughout the world.
It’s no secret that, for the past few years, I have been on a journey to make my life more eco-friendly, and to lessen my carbon footprint.Taking action in an attempt to make the world a better place fulfills me, it makes me feel good. However, I’ve noticed that, between school and trying to better the health of the world we live in, I’ve somehow let the most important thing slip through the cracks: my own physical and mental health.
I used to think I had a grip on self-care. I slept eight hours a night, I walked everywhere, I ate a mostly healthy plant-based diet. I was doing all the right things—or so I thought—to keep my body up and running. I only realized that I was neglecting so many areas of myself when, this past semester, my stress levels went through the roof, affecting me in nearly every aspect of my life.
I remember staring at these doctors, saying, “Do you see the red, painful mask that is my face right now? Something MUST be wrong.”
Inflamed hard cysts coated my face, even around my lips and my eyebrows. Alarmingly, I also began spotting during ovulation. Not knowing where to turn, I went to the dermatologist and gynecologist and to get full hormonal blood work done. I remember staring at these doctors, saying, “Do you see the red, painful mask that is my face right now? Something MUST be wrong.” Yet, the results came back normal. What could possibly be causing all of this, then? The answer I was given? Stress.
My mantra was always “keep moving forward, when clearly what I really needed was to slow down.
It’s incredible the toll that stress can take on your body. Studies show this time and time again. The definition of sustainability is the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Just as our environment needs to maintain itself, so does our bodies. When stress levels rise, and we have no way of pumping the breaks, our personal well-being takes the hit. My mantra was always “keep moving forward, when clearly what I really needed was to slow down.
With my doctors’ help, I took on the task of completely reevaluating my lifestyle.
My first step to getting my balance back was cutting out inflammation-causing foods. While everybody is different and we all react differently to different foods and drinks, inflammation is something that negatively affects all of us via our skin, joints, gut, and even brain health. The main causes—besides meat and dairy—are sugar, white flour, and processed foods. I had already nixed meat and dairy over three years ago, so I moved to other parts of my diet. I cut out nightshades (eggplant, white potatoes, tomatoes), and I limited sugar, peanuts, white rice, flour, and processed foods. For so long I wanted to believe that tomatoes could never cause me inflammation (I loved them too much!), but after dropping them from my diet, I see a massive difference in my redness. I do all of this, of course, in healthy moderation. I still give into cravings, but I eat one serving size of cookies, rather than a dozen.
I also started meditating and exercising daily. Meditation is an amazing way to slow down and recognize the power that our mind has over our bodies and lives. I find the Wim Hof method to work best for me, however there are so many other ways to incorporate meditation in your everyday life. I find that using the Insight Timer meditation app helps immensely.
As far as exercising goes, you don’t have to have an Equinox membership, or invest in a bunch of PureBarre classes to get your blood pumping. Walking is one of the easiest and best ways to release stress and toxins our bodies are holding onto. It’s recommended that you walk around 10,000 steps a day, and certain apps such as MyFitnessPal will help you track this for free. In New York City, walking is my default setting.
Another life-change? I recently became the proud mom of a lovely snake named Luna, who acts as my therapy companion in times of need.
After months of trial and error, once my semester came to a close, I could finally see a huge difference in my skin and how I felt. Still, everyone’s body is different, and so what works for me may not work for you. It’s important that you do your research and consult professionals when making drastic lifestyle changes like I did.
Even though I thought I was doing everything to be healthy, my routine clearly wasn’t covering all of the bases.
Looking back now, I was simply going through the motions. I would never let myself pause and deeply reflect, to see my stress the warning sign it most definitely was. Even though I thought I was doing everything to be healthy, my routine clearly wasn’t covering all of the bases. Change is only natural; it’s a sign that we are continuing to grow. We are on our own individual health journeys, and I hope by sharing my own experience, you will know that you are not alone.