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Healing, au naturale.

from Health Fitness Revolution

Health. It’s a cliche resolution, but this year I want to take note of the weaknesses in my health and make changes to my lifestyle to improve it. Everyone wants to eat less, move more, and lose a few pounds – but my physique is not my focus this year. I’ve tried that – the dieting, the brutal workouts, the self-critique and anxiety – and it worked..until it didn’t.

This year I’m focusing on where I don’t feel healthy. My first major issue was headaches. I used to get these frequent, excruciating, torturous headaches that would make it nearly impossible to get out of bed, let alone work or study. Ibuprofen to the rescue; sometimes 2, but more like 4, 6, 8, 10 in a day. If felt like my head would literally explode if I didn’t hold it down and I would often get sick to my stomach. I even went to the emergency room last winter. I didn’t really know what to do about it, long term, so I depended on my high doses of ibuprofen and hoped for the best.

The second major issue is sleep. I toss and turn for hours before falling asleep. My mind is just on super speed all night and it makes it impossible to feel well-rested in the morning.

I realized there could be a different, more holistic, approach to my issues – naturopathy. My mum had mentioned she was going to start seeing one and I thought, “Hey, I want to try that.” At my first appointment I told her all about the headaches and the sleep issues. She probed for more details on my symptoms and my lifestyle habits. I was honest and mentioned that I had a caffeine & diet coke habit that was hard to beat. Coffee fueled me. I would wake up, drink a cup, get ready then drink a cup with breakfast, get a cup to take to morning class, get a cup before the second class, get another cup during the break if the class was long, go home unwind with a cup, have another cup after dinner. Insane, I know!

My naturopath broke the bad news as gently as she could – I needed to eliminate aspertame from my diet – and I needed to limit my coffee intake to AM only. These may seem like “obvious” changes I should have made a long time ago, but when you’re putting that stuff in your body day in, day out, you don’t think it could possibly be hurting you. She also prepared a herbal mixture to take daily, along with some vitamins.

The first couple weeks I put reminders on my phone to check off as I got through one day at a time without coffee after noon, diet coke, and gum (aspertame galore!). I took it one day at a time, and I did have 2 or 3 days when I indulged in a diet coke (I sure did pay for it the next day), but it got easier. Now, it’s pretty much automatic. If someone offers me a piece of gum, I say, “No, thank you”. And when I’m at a restaurant, I got for Perrier or water.

The question is, did it work?

Yes. My headaches are not nearly as frequent or intense as they used to be. I get my usual PMS headaches, but other than that I only experienced 2 other days with headaches. Life without ever-looming headaches is a vast improvement to my daily functioning. I’m more alert and focused. I’m less stressed and depressed. I sleep better (not for as long as I should, but that’s my own doing).

So far, all the changes have been positive and I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing much. I still enjoy my morning cup of coffee, and now I chew “pur gum”, an aspertame-free brand found at most health food stores – and I was lucky enough to find it during a 2 for 1 sale at Rachelle-Bery in Montreal over the winter break.

Who doesn’t love a comeback?

Snow Covered Fence - Rachel Kramer Flickr

Snow Covered Fence – Rachel Kramer Flickr

Oh, January. The fresh start we all wait for (guilty as charged). Any day or month would have been a good day to start blogging/writing again, but here we are at the beginning of 2015, and for some reason I feel “inspired” by the abundance of resolution-type posts I keep seeing.

I think the motivation to write now is because of how much changed in 2014 and I want/need to reflect on it.

I’m not going to lie or sugar coat: 2014 had a rough start. It was an uphill battle with depression for the first few months. It was dark and it was lonely as I transitioned from the bliss of “college living” to moving back home with no job prospects and debt. I thought it was the worst possible way my life could have gone and I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I know there are literally thousands of people who met the same outcome of post-grad life, but it felt like I was the only one.

It was a college program calendar and a drop-in therapy session that “saved my life” just when I needed it. I can’t remember exactly how I found the Paralegal program, but when I did, I knew it was for me. I was quickly accepted and that gave me a light at the end of the tunnel.

Looking back, I’m conscious of how far I have come and I’m proud of it. I overcame inner struggles to get up in the morning and find something to do with my life. I could have easily sunk further down into depression, but I didn’t. (For anyone that’s fought that battle, you know how significant that is.)

This week I started semester 2 of 3 in my program. In semester 1 I surpassed my personal GPA goal and I hope to do it again. (I don’t just hope, though, I plan on working hard for it). I made good connections with other motivated people. I feel confident this was the right choice for me.

That being said, 2015 is probably going to be a year full of growth and change and I figure it’s a good year to start blogging and reflecting at more frequent intervals.