It’s funny how you can read or be told something over and over again but you don’t realize its importance until you really, really put it into practice or experience it. In this case, that thing is that weight-loss is not a diet; it is a lifestyle change. It’s so unbelievably cliché but I can now truthfully attest to its truthfulness.
I’ve been inspired to write about this since I arrived home from exchange but I haven’t been able to convince myself that it was a good idea to publicize this topic in my own case. But, here it is, because I want people to know how I changed my own life so that they may be able to do the same thing themselves. I haven’t posted any photos of myself in this post because I didn’t feel it necessary, but you can check out my food photos on my Instagram account!
Backstory: I gained 30 pounds in my first year of university alone. That summer, I lost 20. I gained it back within months of being back at school. My weight gain in three years of university totalled 42 pounds, but fluctuated a lot under certain circumstances, like when I had my jaw operated on. In short, my weight was an awful number and I had never truly hated anything so much in my entire life. My clothes didn’t fit, and at my worst I barely fit into an XL. It just wasn’t me. But I also questioned that belief because I couldn’t find the motivation to make changes drastic enough to get back to where I was before I started university.
My mum has instilled a lot of belief in me of the good of holistic medicine since I was about ten years old. We both see a naturopath (she more regularly than I) who has, in turn, shown me that my body is not meant to ingest certain things. In the last couple of years I’ve experimented with a gluten-free diet only to discover that I react to gluten, and the more I went on and off of a gluten-free diet, the worse my reactions would get. This was a huge starting point for my weight-loss, and with research I have learned that going gluten-free for good and losing weight did not happen at the same time coincidentally. As the gluten-free duck said passionately: “Don’t eat gluten for 30 days and tell me how you feel!!”
I’ve lost 35 pounds since December. It’s difficult to picture it because I’m tall and weight is easily hidden, but those 35 pounds were there and had to be lost. I am undoubtedly proud of myself, but there is still a lot of work to do!
My real weight-loss journey began when I returned to Brussels after Christmas. I had spent much of first semester binge-watching TV shows and binge-(insert other verbs), and despite the amazing time I was having travelling, I wasn’t the happiest me I could be. I couldn’t possibly tell you what exactly clicked in my psyche to give me a completely new outlook on how I should be living, but that click happened at some point at the very beginning of January of this year. One would say it was a New Year’s resolution, but this so-called “psyche click” happened so subconsciously that I wasn’t really aware of it. With a lot of time on my hands living in Brussels, I developed a serious love for cooking and improvising (usually successfully!) with new recipe ideas and I grew extremely proud of what I was doing because I knew that I was becoming much healthier because of it.
Even though I don’t know why I so suddenly changed my lifestyle, there are definitely some contributing factors. The first was, and still is, the people who surround me daily. Several people I lived with in Brussels during my second semester hugely motivated me to live a healthy life, and vice versa. We worked together at living better and always had each other’s backs. Now that I’m home, I’m spending my days with my fellow lifeguards at the pool, who all live extremely healthily because we all motivate each other to do so! My co-workers keep me sane and healthy every day and I cannot give them enough credit for that.
Another factor is Instagram. Yes, you read that right. It’s no secret that I LOVE to take photos, and it’s also not a secret that I spent a very large amount of time on Instagram while I was gone. I discovered some amazing communities on Instagram (particularly the #vegan and #rawvegan communities) that inspired me to start posting photos of food that I made and loved. Taking photos of my food to post on Instagram has become a completely normal thing for me, though some people (including some of my friends) will never understand the need for it. Digitally sharing my food with others and being inspired by others doing the same thing has had a massive impact on my weight-loss journey, and though I will probably never be able to eat a vegan diet consistently, I have grown a love for vegan-inspired dishes thanks to the networks I have found and now follow. I work with a girl named Lauren who has a phenomenal Instagram account featuring vegan and raw vegan dishes of her own creation, and her photos are AMAZING. She has helped to instil in me a love for beautiful, healthy food. Check her out here.
For many, every single thing I’ve said in this post is extremely cliché and easily laughable, but for me, these things have become game-changers in my life. I’ve noticed that along with a spike in trends like the gluten-free diet comes a spike in people who make fun of those who choose to live that lifestyle. Nothing makes it ok for you to target a friend or acquaintance who makes these kinds of choices. If there’s one thing I can say to those people, it’s that there is no excuse to ever make a friend feel like they’re being “ridiculous” or “excessive” for choosing to live their better life, which is exactly what I am doing now!
PS: I still gorge on chocolate whenever the craving hits. That is something I will never, ever get rid of!
PSS: My posting hiatus is over and you’ll be hearing from me more regularly from now on!