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LET'S TALK WELLNESS: LIVING CONSCIOUSLY

04:08Emilija A


These posts are always hard to write for me because there's so much I want to say and haven't the slightest idea where to begin. So... This post is a continuation in my LET'S TALK WELLNESS series. In my previous post (which you can read here), I explained my experiences with body image. Long story short, my body image issues stemmed from bullying and pressure from my peers - not from comparing myself to others, or the pressure of being perfect from society, or magazines, or TV etc. because I never paid attention to any of that and those things never bothered me. This resulted in developing an unhealthy relationship with food. So going forth from there, today I'll talk about where I am now in terms of diet and exercise, among other stuff and how I got to where I am. (I'm going to be tacking physical wellness in this and the coming posts before I move onto mental wellness.)

Disclaimer: I'm not here to shove my beliefs down your throat. I'm here to talk about my own journey, and hopefully provide you a different perspective on some things. 

In the previous post I mentioned how I was brought up as probably the vast majority of the population. I had certain things ingrained in my brain and were led to believe certain things - that I do not believe in anymore. I was a person who used to eat everything. Now, when people ask me abut my life and about my diet, I say that I'm just living consciously. What the fuck does that even mean? To me, it just means that I am doing everything that I can to help the environment, reduce my carbon footprint, help the animals, and better my physical and mental health. It's extremely important to note, that for me personally, this means that I do what I am comfortable with at the pace that I am comfortable with.

Some specifics of what I practice: I consume a mostly plant based diet, whenever I have the option I will always go for vegan products (beauty wise etc.), I go out of my way in researching and purchasing products that do not partake in animal cruelty, I try to minimise my use of single-use plastics, I recycle, I walk to places, among many other things. Why does this matter? All of this ties into my philosophy of living consciously. I mean, this isn't ground breaking news, it's been done before for sure. However, it has taken me a while to get to a stage in which I feel comfortable with everything. I feel like you should be able to do/eat anything you want as long as you are aware of what you're contributing towards with making those decisions - being conscious of it all. Are you catching my drift here?

When I first started this journey (which began in 2015) I called myself a vegan because this label was the closest thing that represented the life and the dietary choices that I was making. However, I wasn't 100% comfortable with it because it wasn't entirely true. I occasionally had vegetarian meals when I would go out with friends etc. This resulted in feeling a lot of guilt because my friends would joke about me "being a part-time vegan" and stuff like that, which I know they weren't doing this to spite me because I know they have only good intentions, but I still felt that guilt. And that should never be the case. Guilt is the absolute devil, it should never, EVER, be a feeling that's associated with food because this is what leads to developing an unhealthy relationship with food, body image issues, and eating disorders.

I took a lot of time out and it took me a lot of thinking to realise that this is still a process for me. This journey for me is about educating myself on the consequences of my actions. What am I contributing towards when I eat meant? When I eat fish? When I eat dairy? When I buy bottled water? When I use straws? When I buy a cup of coffee? When I buy a can of dry shampoo? Knowing what I was contributing towards, and what the results of my actions were going to be... It made me change a lot of things in my life. For example, after I found out how agriculture was the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption, and pollution it made me think about my diet. I then started researching everything about plant based diets, and the more I learned the more it didn't make sense to me why I wasn't already living like that.

Like I said before, this is still a process for me and it forever will be because I'm never going to stop educating myself on these things. I'm not perfect so sometimes I'll mess up for sure, but I do my best to make informed decisions. If I'm ok with what I'm contributing towards by making a certain decision, then I'll make it. If I can't live with the consequences, then I won't. That is why I consume a mostly plant based diet - because I can't live with myself if I don't. But that's just me though, and neither you nor I should compare ourselves to others and what they're doing. You do you, I'll do me. No, I don't think you'll go to hell if you eat meat. No, I don't hate you or look down on you if you do eat meat. That's your decision, it's your life. Just like not eating meat is mine.

My reasons for wanting to live like this have baffled (and continue) to baffle those around me. Why? Because I'm not doing this for myself. I'm doing this for the animals and the environment. Trust me, I am well aware of all of the other benefits linked to health - all of that is great and all, but those reasons were not even remotely on the radar when I was making the decision to change my lifestyle. And when I tell people the reason why I live like this, a lot of the times the response I get is this: "You won't save the world by yourself". I get where people are coming from with this. I do. I used to think like that too. What matters to me the most, is that I am consciously doing everything I can in order to do what's right and what I believe in. It's about me and my conscience. My goal with this lifestyle change was to minimise my negative impact on the environment and the harm that comes to animals, but above all, what matters to me (and I'm repeating myself here) is to do what I am comfortable with at the pace I am comfortable with, for my own mental health. If you're going to take away anything from this post, I want that sentiment to be it. If you'd like to change your lifestyle but you can't because of reasons, that's fine. You don't have to quit everything cold turkey (like I did), you don't even have to do this at all if you don't want to. If you're totally fine with living the way you do and feeling ok with the results of your actions, that's fine. If not, try meals with no meat first etc. YOU DO YOU. Do what you can, do what you feel ok with, and don't let anybody make you feel bad or guilty about it because you're doing so much good with that.

WAS IT HARD?

This is a question I get asked all the time; "Was it hard?" For me, it's a straight up no. It wasn't hard at all. Let me tell you why. It was because when you're making such a drastic change in your lifestyle, you need to have the right mentality. Before I made the switch to cut the afore mentioned things out of my diet, I did a lot of research. I read about plant based diets, searched for recipes, watched documentaries, and consulted my GP. Do you know how long I did the things I mentioned in the previous sentence for? I did it for 4 months before I made the switch. I needed to research so that I'd be informed about things relating to a plant based diet, to know the substitutes of where I could get the nutrients I'd no longer be consuming from meat or dairy, to truly know the reasons of why I am going to do this change, and above all, to know what I should expect once I do make the switch.

By the end of the 4th month I was, like, literally dying to start living like that, because a) mentally I was already there, and b) it literally drove me crazy knowing what I was contributing towards, like, in terms of the slaughter and harm that is inflicted onto the animals, and the impact agriculture has on the environment. By that time, this was the easiest thing I have ever done in my life. It was no longer acceptable to me and I started to cut out as much of meat as I could and later just flat out rejected eating meat and fish. In terms of things such as dairy and eggs, I still consume it sometimes, however I am aware of what I am contributing towards. I know what happens to the chickens in the farms and what happens to cows who are grown for milk. I am aware of those things and I make peace with it as much as I can because this is still a process for me. I am taking my time to do this at the right pace for myself because I want to sustain this. And one more thing on the "was it hard" bit. To be honest, it's only hard when you don't know what you're doing. To remedy that - do your freaking research. And this goes not just for lifestyle changes, this is relevant to pretty much everything in life. (Also, massive shoutout to Pinterest for being there for me when I have no clue what I want to make for dinner.)

I'm just gonna go over a lil bit of the effects I've experienced from cutting out meat and dairy. The most immediate thing I noticed was my skin. It went through the most horrible breakout ever, but I've read that it was because my body was detoxifying itself. After that my skin cleared up like you wouldn't believe. Following that, my energy levels increased. I no longer felt sleepy and tired or gross after I ate, which happened a lot to me when I ate meat. Then for a while, I didn't notice any changes at all, which was totally fine. But then after a good three or four months I started noticing that my hair and nails have gotten the strongest and healthiest they've ever been. One thing that's not related to any physical changes was the clarity of my mind. I became much more focused and overall a lot more mindful and aware of everything. 

The plan was to talk about exercise in this post too, however this is already way too long so I'll save that topic for a different post. Anyway, those are my thoughts. Once again, I'd like to highlight the fact that this is still a process for me. I'm getting better each day, I promise. Hope this was interesting to read, I know it was a long one. I would love to know your thoughts though, I always appreciate these conversations. 

Much love. 

Em

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