Oh my dears! As a fashion, lifestyle and inspiration blogger, one aspect that I am also extremely passionate about that is also hugely important to my overall wellness is my HEALTH! As I have reflected about what I have shared with you over the years, one topic I have realized that has been quite lax is the area of my personal health and wellness. So alas, today I have decided to unveil up my own personal chapter of health and speak to you openly about my health journey [be prepared as you read, as it is a bit lengthy!]
If you know me personally, you know health is something I speak about TONS and TONS on a regular basis. In fact, the entire reason I really moved to LA in the first place was to pursue health and wellness after 3.5 long [and wearing] years in the amazing Concrete Jungle of NYC. Living in New York was quite a dream as it was SO very full of fun amazing activities, and endless memories, and dream work experiences. While it was all of these things and MORE… it was also simultaneously the most exhausting 3.5 years of my life!
This was not to say I didn’t treasure my time in NYC. I SOOO very much did! But rather it is to recognize the reality of the run down lifestyle I created for myself whilst living in this amazing city that never sleeps. You know that point when you actually HIT A WALL and realize the only way out is to take a different turn? Well, that is exactly where I found myself after 3.5 years amazing years in NY!
Something I think we all struggle with on some level is finding a balance of being social and working our booties off… while simultaneously getting enough sustaining sleep and rest and eating food that nourishes our bodies. For my entire last year in NYC I was traveling so much, working longgggg tireless hours, working on my blog on the nights and weekends, trying to balance having a social life filled with activities every night of the week, working out regularly, and eating a well balanced diet… OH, and sleeping, because I have to sleep somewhere in there right? The one thing I did not realize that was also piling on top of the heaps of things I was trying to balance was one seemingly difficult thing to pinpoint but equally extremely hard to fend of….This my friends, was the lovely output of STRESS.
My body was stressed. My mind was stressed. My sleep was stressed. My mind was stressed. My overall lifestyle was, well, stressed.
And what happens when your body is run down and stressed? Well, a slew of lovely things! First, I found myself getting sick every 2 weeks with body aches, a sore throat, and extreme fatigue. Every two weeks like clockwork I got the same exact sickness which then turned into a full blown sinus infection. I kept visiting my amazing Urgent Care friends at CityMD [the absolute best Urgent Care in the city, and my life saver on multiple occasions], only to have them tell me yet again that I did not have the flu, but rather another infection and that the only way to really cure it was sleep, rest, and less stress. These words were SO few and far between when I considered my life in NYC… how in the world was I going to get more sleep, rest AND less stress with my current lifestyle?!?!?
Not only was I becoming chronically ill, but I was weirdly also gaining weight…which for any woman is cue for a mini panic attack. Though nothing in my life was actually really changing, I was gaining weight and couldn’t control it. Was it just that I had hit my mid-twenties and my body was changing? Was it because I was eating the wrong portions of veggies to proteins? I simply had no idea what was going on and why the weight was piling… but it wouldn’t stop.
As a woman [or man for that matter] I am sure we can all agree that unexplained weight gain is one of the most frustrating, debilitating, things to happen to us!
In an effort to get healthy, I got a membership at Equinox [don’t judge me!]. While I loved the eucalyptus towels, and lovely Kiehl’s products, waking up at 530am to go to the gym 6 and get ready to leave for work by 7:30 to get the entire use of my costly membership was not exactly ideal. Not only was I only getting about 5.5 hours of sleep, I was also lugging 2 giant bags around: one filled with workout clothes, the other with my lunch for the day. I would go into the gym looking like a hot mess, and come out so called “ready to conquer the day” and on my way for another Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada workday though truly tired beyond belief.
Other than tirelessly working out, I also simultaneously made a keen effort to get extra healthy with my food. The funny part about that was that all of my friends already thought I was the high maintenance foodie because of my weird allergies and strange food preferences. *I am highly allergic to corn and at the time was a veganish vegetarian [I couldn’t fully give up cheese.. guilty!].* I eventually even gave up being vegetarian for one month to attempt the WHOLE 30 diet which includes balanced meat and vegetables and eliminates sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. Sadly, despite all of these efforts nothing worked and in fact the weight actually got worse.
Though I was eating the right foods and working out tirelessly… I was STILL getting sick and STILL gaining weight. I just could not fathom why this was happening. I hit a rock bottom moment where I realized I was so tired of worrying about what I was eating and how much I was working out when it wasn’t actually doing anything for my overall wellness. It felt so defeating as I was doing everything I could possibly conceive to no avail. No results, no feeling better, no weight loss, no stronger immune system.
Alas, I decided I was going to make one last stitch effort to pay out of pocket to see a wellness specialist. After listening to my symptoms and doing a series of blood and urine tests, the prognosis of the doctor was eye opening. He noticed not one, but multiple imbalances throughout my body. Come to find out I also had leaky-gut syndrome which had in turn developed various autoimmune diseases in my body. When I asked him how I got here, he explained that it was not extremely easy to pinpoint the one factor, but that the overarching common factor through all of my health imbalances was stress and overall life imbalance.
Oh me, oh my.
It was at this pivotal moment that I realized no amount of working out or eating the right foods was going to solve my issues. Instead, I had to focus on truly having overall WELLNESS and WHOLENESS in my every day. It took me quite some time to really sink into this idea. After all, in my industry we are so forced to be slaves to our careers. But isn’t that the case with so many careers these days? The “norm” is to work 8-10 hour work days eating lunch at your desk and taking absolutely no breaks in the work day. Going to the bathroom ends up being your only sole oasis because it provides a momentary release from the endless tasks and meetings filling the rest of your day. When did we get to a place that working yourself to a crisp, made us successful?
Society tells us success comes from doing whatever you can to get the job done whilst handling piles of stress…. in fact, we are often frowned up on if we even mention that we are stressed at all. In many cases, we are expected to handle the stress and move forward. The word “stress” is blacklisted: you must deal with it immediately or pretend it’s not there. What we really need to do is shift our perspective to see that STRESS as a huge red flag. New flash: if we are chronically stressed… this is NOT normal and NOT okay for our bodies !
Sleep is something else that gets easily disregarded in our busy lifestyles. When someone the words, “it’s fine, you can sleep when you are dead”, I immediately cringe inside! Since when did living my best life include 5 hours of sleep, extreme fatigue, brain fog, and eventually illness? When we actually do not give our bodies the kind of rest we deserve, we end up with a domino effect of fatigue that leads to all sort of other imbalances in our bodies. I was a classic example of living the “sleep when you are dead” theory. I used to sleep less than 6 hours a night, even on weekends most of the time. I almost never prioritized getting rest and actually ended up convincing myself that I was one of those people that only needed about 5 to 6 hours of sleep to function. I had tricked myself into a lie. NO WONDER my body was so run down.
Friends, sleep is so so so essential and today I really want to empower you today to take back your sleep!
When work is not overwhelming our lives, it is social activities. While I loveeee being social, us social butterflies often have a hard time saying no to activities. If you haven’t read it, I wrote an amazing post on FOMO here that talks about the importance of boundaries in our social lives. Though I love love love seeing my friends, I had to make some extremely hard decisions the past few years to limit my social activities and instead prioritize self care as a result of all my imbalances and auto immune diseases.
So often, we find ourselves in a RACE for business. We are expected to fill our days with work, working out, social activities, and more… and don’t forget eating healthy all the while! What is nearly impossible when we succumb to this cultural norm is actually having a wholesome and healthy life.
All of this to say, my health journey is a classic example of trying to be a #GIRLBOSS on the outside, living up to cultural standards of #workhardplayhard, and rising to the top whilst doing it all. You now know that by doing this on the inside I was crumbling with fatigue and illness. Since having these realizations almost 3 years ago, I have had to make the conscious decision to take back BALANCE in my life. Because of the years of imbalance in my body, it has now taken years to start restoring my health and begin feeling like my normal self again. It has been one long and hard journey, with many tears and frustration along the way. All of this to say, I want this post to really serve you as a place of encouragement for you if find that your life looks like mine used to.
Are you constantly experiencing fatigue? Do you easily forget things and don’t know why? Are you experiencing strange weight gain? Do you constantly get sick without fail because of a weakened immune system? Are you more easily agitated? Does getting out of bed in the morning feel like the hardest task of life?
If you are feeling any one of these things, today I want to encourage you that YOU are so precious and your body is deserving of rest and rejuvenation! If you are constantly living in a state of stress and business, it is possible that a series of imbalances have developed in your body causing a domino effect of health issues throughout your system. But alas all is not lost my friends! I am here to say I KNOW what this is like, and I want to encourage you on your health journey. It is not impossible to take control of your life and feel empowered to make true changes in your lifestyle that will effect your overall health and wellness.
As I open up this new chapter of health and wellness on Madly Mignon, I am excited to share with you more about what has been hugely transformative for me in my battle to regain health and wellness in my life. I hope and pray that these posts will encourage you and provide you with some inspiration for how to take back wholeness in your life and start feeling like the BEST YOU!
PS. SIDE NOTE. I used to use a bunch of “+’s” as my “ands” in my writing, and today I decided I am going to stop that trend for easier reading….Embracing the change, even the small ones. 😉
Photos by the amazing Stefanie Mariee