My epiphany with food and exercise came a couple years ago, right after I moved to Los Angeles. Fresh out of college and the South, I had a theatre degree and a whole lot of hope. As soon as I arrived on the Golden Coast, I realized the vast competition I was dealing with. While weight was never my problem, I did have one glaring insecurity: acne.
I've battled acne since entering the oh-so-scary hallways of middle school at the age of 11. Over the years, I've seen several dermatologists, taken pills, tried creams, even Accutane (!!) and while some methods slightly quelled the problem, NOTHING was a permanent fix. Until I changed my diet.
Arriving in Hollywood showed me it was time to take my health (and resulting looks) seriously. If I was going to compete with the creme de la creme in the leading ladies category, I'd have to look my absolute best. Little did I know in pursuing the seemingly shallow goal of physical perfection, I would find the key to emotional satisfaction and absolute happiness.
The principles of the original clear skin diet I tried were:
- cutting out sugar (ACK!!)
- limiting caffeine intake (WHAA?!)
- takin' it easy on the empty carbs (GRR)
- basically overdosing on fresh veggies (EXCUSE ME?!)
As hard as it was jump on this train, I was so sick of looking in the mirror everyday and being dissatisfied that I forced it, allowing myself a piece of dark chocolate anytime I felt the urge for some ice cream and a bowl of grape nuts whenever I was DYING for that bagel. After several days, it became easier- not necessarily because I enjoyed the food but because I felt so good, I COULDN'T revert to my old sugar-soaked days. I slowly incorporated cardio exercise and yoga practice into my routine, only further adding to my complete and utter happiness.
I was on the wagon and enjoying the ride. My skin, for the first time, was finally looking clear and bright!
This routine was interrupted by a brief move to the east coast for an acting job, but transformed into another beast: my first stint with weight training and muscle building.
I've always been a slight person and the summer I was away from LA, I came up with the crazy goal of sculpting my abs. Real, six packin', Britney Spears in the early 00's ABS! The Abs Diet for Women was my bible and I made some decent headway in the muscle department. I was proud. And felt stronger than I ever had.
Once again my routine was forced to shift as I returned to Los Angeles. I was in a new house with all sorts of new predicaments that I won't go into here. In came the stress, out went the healthy lifestyle. I went back to my college diet of living off sugary coffee beverages and danishes, with the occasional huge meal early in the evening (or nothing at all, considering I work in restaurants and am therefore working while everyone else in their right mind is eating).
I was feelin' the pain- and not the good, muscle building pain I had become accustomed to. My energy was gone, depression set in and lazy excuses took hold of my mind, disallowing me to go to the gym or eat the vegetables I kept buying with good intentions.
One day I was surfing the 'net and came across my first and favorite food blogger: The Fitnessista. It changed my life. Not only did it serve as a segue to the wonderful world of healthy living blogs, but it also introduced me to the raw food lifestyle, which I suppose you could call "Chapter 2" in my crazy food journey.
Once I read about the benefits of a raw food diet (the prevention of debilitating diseases, the energy boost, the clean feeling), I was hooked! I starting reading everything I could get my hands on, bought a juicer and a blender on Amazon and got to experimenting. Despite the many warnings of Raw How-To'ers, I tried going essentially all raw, all at once. Not a good idea, friends. This translated to not eating enough and sort of feeling worse than living on sugar.
Since then, I've tried (and defaulted on) several routes to an all raw, vegan diet. They include but aren't limited to:
- a meatless month
- a vegan week
- a fruit and veggie fast
- watching the way I combine my food
All of these left me feeling icky and unfulfilled, but have ultimately led me to the place I am today: still learning, but feeling full, satisfied and energetic all the time!
What I hope this lengthy story shows is that while your path to a healthy lifestyle may start out as a way to rid your face of acne or shred that tire around your waist, as you pursue it THE RIGHT WAY, you can achieve those goals and so much more. Choosing to be healthy and caring for your body makes you FEEL good- and not just when you look in the mirror. (Although that can give you a pretty nice boost too!)