This is a story that does not start off pretty, but has a triumphant conclusion, so bear with me for a second while I tell you why putting myself first was the absolute best thing I could have done for the sake of my kids. Sounds selfish I’m sure, I am sacrificing time with my kids to do something just for me. Here’s the thing though, it benefits everyone around me…
You are probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, and the short answer is that I am making my health a priority. Confession time: for a long time now, I have not been responsible about my health, and being a Type 1 Diabetic, this was a reckless way to live. After my kids were born, and up until very recently, I allowed mommy-guilt to keep me from taking the time to take care of my health. There are always at least twenty things on my to-do list, and a million fun things I want to spend time doing with my kids. So I plugged away at the never-ending to-do list, convinced that making myself a priority was selfish. But I was terribly wrong, because everyone in my life suffered as a result.
If you have been following along with me on this blog, you are probably already aware that I struggled for a long time with mental illness. It all feels like a bit of a blur looking back, but each day just melted into the next, and my world was just an endless series of tasks, a chaotic mess of pity and despair. My health was the least of my concerns, I was struggling to care for my innocent young children. Every day was a struggle for me. Every single day. Just getting out of my bed in the morning required every ounce of will-power I possessed. My children did not understand what I was going through, and my husband felt helpless and defeated. Relationships with people in my life suffered. My self-esteem had never been so low. When I hit rock-bottom, I had lost the will to live. But then I remembered the one reason that could pull me out of the darkness, my family!
For the sake of my family, I started working on myself. I started fighting my demons, and I found strength of will that I did not know I had in me. My family needed me, and I could not be there to support them if I was not the best possible version of myself that I could be. Slowly but surely, I climbed out of the hole of depression, and emerged at the end of the tunnel. I could see the light again. I could feel the sun on my face. The feeling of little arms around me warmed my heart and gave me hope. I felt like I could face the world again, and I started accomplishing my goals. Everything seemed right with the world, but there was one thing I had left to do. I had to take control of my health.
During that dark time in my life, and through two pregnancies, I had packed on over fifty pounds. I cry as I write this, because I feel ashamed and terrified to admit that I had let myself go so badly. For a long time, I would justify that weight gain because of having back-to-back pregnancies. But that is not fair to my kids, they are 5 and 6 years old! The real reason is that I had developed some very unhealthy habits. After my diabetes diagnosis ten years ago, I stopped exercising because I was overwhelmed with all that was involved in managing this disease. I lived in denial for most of the last ten years about the repercussions of my daily choices, the emotional impact of diabetes was crippling.
Periodically I would decide to take charge and sign on with a gym, or start a workout routine, only to give up on it after very little time. I would attempt to eat more fruit and veggies, and then justify eating all the other junk. I felt terrible physically, and even though my mind was in a better place, my physical health was still impacting my sense of self-worth. I was not depressed anymore, so I thought I was happy. But I wasn’t. I couldn’t run with my kids or give piggy-back rides for very long. My dogs waited for their next walk with sad eyes. My husband would put his arm around my waist, and I would push it away because of shame about my body. Two years had passed since my last appointment with the specialist who follows my diabetes. I knew I had to do something about this, but my attempts to take charge of my health in the past had always been unsuccessful. It felt like it was out of my control. I became terrified that the consequences of poor health would leave my children without a mother, and I wanted so badly to prevent that fate.
And then an absolute stranger reached out to me. And what she had to offer me was not a magic pill to make things all better. What she offered me was something revolutionary, a piece of the puzzle that I was missing all of this time. It is no secret that health is largely determined by diet and exercise, I did not need that information and I don’t imagine you do either. But even though I knew what needed to be done, I could not do it alone. I was failing miserably all on my own. This stranger invited me into the most life-changing wellness community, and provided me with ongoing support and guidance on a wellness journey. Its a journey, you see. Its not a diet that will last for x-amount of time. It is not a workout routine that I will complete and then discontinue. It is a commitment to health for LIFE. And not just my physical health. Because it isn’t just about diet and exercise, although Andrea helped me understand those components better, there is another part to wellness, an emotional and spiritual wellness. I needed personal development. I needed encouragement, and accountability. I needed access to information and resources to help me, and I needed a million questions answered along the way. I needed a friend, and I needed love and support. Andrea gave me all of those things and more. She introduced me to a group of people who have opened their arms and hearts to me, and now I cannot imagine my life without them in it. Their support so far has made all the difference, and I can’t even begin to describe what a powerful impact this group has had on my life.
In less than two months, some pretty dramatic changes have happened for me as a result of making my health a priority. I am successfully managing my blood-sugar levels and am taking LESS THAN HALF the amount of insulin I was before. I have the boundless energy of a toddler, and strength coursing through my veins. I have enthusiasm for life, and self-confidence. The muscle tension I had in my lower back because of weakness in my core is gone. My mind is clear, my digestion is improved. I have lost more than TWENTY pounds and THIRTEEN inches. My skin is clear. I can run through the fields with my kids. I wake up in the morning and bounce out of bed. I am actively surrounding myself with positive light and influences, and am giving back to the community that helped me. I am helping other people!!! I am building them up, and encouraging THEM!! New people join our group, and I have become a leader within it, guiding and cheering them on. I am part of something that is meaningful, and my life is more meaningful as a result.
I am not at my goals yet, I still have a long way to go. But that’s not important, because this is a lifelong journey, and the thing is, I am not giving up. Not anymore. My tribe wont let me. That’s right, I have a tribe! And this is not an easy process, or a quick one. We all work hard at it, and we celebrate successes. Not just the kind of success that involves a scale or a measuring tape. I’m talking about the kind of success that involves me living long enough to see my kids have kids of their own. The kind of success that allows me to feel fulfilled in my life, and the kind of success that changes the world. Did you know that stocks in McDonalds and Subway are at an all-time low? Thats because a wellness revolution is spreading, and the group that I am a part of is just a smaller part of a community of people who are working together on their wellness journeys. A community of amazing and inspiring individuals who span the globe and number in the hundreds of thousands. People from all walks of life, and from all faiths. And even though I haven’t met all of them, they would all be a friend to me if I reached out to them. We are all in this together. Thick and thin. It is a powerful driving force that is keeping me on track and preventing me from giving up on myself. How can I give up on myself, when I am telling other people that they can do it too? How can I give up on myself when there are young eyes watching…
Which brings me back to my point here. Young eyes are watching. They see me exercise. They see me make healthier choices. They see me cry and scream and struggle, and they SEE ME GET BACK UP AGAIN! Those young eyes belong to my children. And when I take time away from them to exercise, or chop vegetables, or contribute to my wellness group, I am doing something that is not at all selfish. I am doing something that will impact their understanding of what it means to be healthy. I am doing something that will inspire them to make the same choices for themselves. I am doing something that has already created a place of peace and tranquility in our home. I am showing them the meaning of passion and self-love. The example I am setting for my children is reason enough all on its own to pursue this journey.
I am putting myself first. For the sake of my kids.
*If you think you could benefit from the loving support of this community like I have, please feel free to reach out to me either by email or message me on Facebook. This is not a big secret, you can be a part of it too! We are changing the world, one lost soul at a time.
Update: Since writing this post, I still going strong with my health goals, have lost a total of 50lbs, and am feeling healthier and stronger than I have in a very long time!