When people find out that I am a vegan, they sometimes respond negatively. There was one lady, a midwife, who seemed to take personal offence when she learned that I didn’t eat meat or dairy. She told me I was going to die. She told me there was no way I could survive without meat. She even said I looked sickly, something which offended me personally, as I felt as though she was calling me ugly. I have always been pale, small, and quiet – going vegan didn’t make that happen. And as a matter of fact, since going vegan, I have never been healthier. So she doesn’t really have a leg to stand on here! Anyway I didn’t come here to rant about people who don’t agree with my lifestyle choices, I came here today to write a positive post about celebrating fitness and health – both physical and mental.
This past year I’ve been a bit up-and-down in terms of my body’s health. Although I’ve been happily vegan for all of it, I’ve gone in and out of eating unhealthily, eating too much, eating too little, and not exercising. When I lived in Iceland I ate a lot of pasta (nothing wrong with that), but not a lot of vegetables! I would also be able to get through family-sized bags of crisps in a couple of days. Over the summer my diet was better; I had access to plenty of cheap, fresh vegetables so I ate like a queen. However, apart from walking to and from places and the occasional hike, I didn’t exercise at all. By the time September rolled around and I settled in to my final year of university, I had put on a bit of weight and was feeling quite body-conscious. Knowing that it was really bad for my emotional health to think such negative thoughts about my body, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I started nourishing my body the way it wanted me to. I largely stopped eating junk food (only the occasional frozen veggie burger, but that was only when I had no time to cook!), and I started to really focus on the whole-foods. I started eating huge salads for lunch and increasing the variety of fruit and veg in my diet. I cut back hugely on alcohol (I never drink any more) and drank more water. I started looking for new, exciting recipes to make what I ate more interested, and I stopped cooking with oil. The result? Well, I feel as though I have tons more energy, and my body feels good all the time. I still have ‘fat’ days, but I’m learning to handle them better. Fat isn’t a negative word.
Lately I’ve become strong and empowered by my fitness, too. I used to do twenty-minute Youtube workouts in the small space of my bedroom, along with the occasional morning jog when I had the time. Recently, I’ve levelled up my fitness by investing in a student gym membership (it really is quite cheap and worth the money!). I’ve been working on my strength, particularly in my arms and core, using the free weights. Seeing myself make slow progress is exciting, it’s great when I find myself lifting heavier and heavier weights as time progresses. Most importantly, doing this kind of exercise is empowering for me. Along with cycling and running, doing these activities on a regular basis free my mind from worries and let me feel like a strong, independent, powerful individual. When I run, I can do anything. When I cycle, I can go anywhere. When I lift, I can lift the whole world.
I’ve never been in a better state of mind and fitness than I am right now. My mood changes from day to day, hour to hour, as I get stressed about the future. But I see these as temporary blips, and everything feels right again once I’m in my happy place (eating good food and working out my body). I feel as though when I am doing this, everything comes together. I know what is important, and the answer is: nothing. As long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing, as long as you’re not harming another living being in the process, nothing else matters.
So get on your bike, lace up your trainers, go to that gym. Go to your happy place. Do what you love doing, and you will feel satisfied. It may take months, even years, before you find a balance which works for you, but I think I’ve finally found mine. And it feels so good.
What makes you happy? What empowers you? I’d love to know – please leave me a comment! Don’t forget to share this page and subscribe to the website for new content. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, Google + and Tumblr for even more!