Updated: Nov 10, 2021
I grew up hearing these very words from my dad. This statement signified change was coming. It was as if that very moment, he decided that he was ready to act and wanted to put those words out into the world.
It was 2017 when I spoke these same words. I was 45 years old, a wife, mom, and successful executive. On paper my life looked rather good, but my soul was so unsettled and had been for a long time. I was exhausted, irritable, and confused as to why things felt so off. I could not put a name to it or even pinpoint what was behind it. If I talked about it, friends may just chalk it up to stress and poured me another glass of wine as we commiserated on all our various challenges. Even my doctors would congratulate me on my healthy stats and tell me to keep doing what I was doing. My mom and older sisters would say, “Welcome to getting older.” It was like this was an initiation into some club that I did not want to be inducted into. My winds of change were blowing hard and I knew I had to do what I had always done at my job….step into the driver’s seat, armed with all of my formal problem-solving skills, and solve it.
For 2 weeks, on my way to work, I had driven by a parking lot where people were exercising. One morning, instead of getting ready for work, I dug some workout clothes and showed up. What should have been the most awkward self-conscious moment for me ended up being a joy. I do not have words for the impression these people had on my life. We were there together, helping support one another. We held one another accountable while supporting with kindness and acceptance. I felt myself becoming stronger physically and mentally. There was some deep raw emotion welling up inside that was urging me on and acknowledging me for finally investing in my own wellbeing. It is funny how feeling good opens up new curiosity and confidence to do some exploration.
I had always had a casual interest in holistic medicine, but never took it much further. When I discovered an eastern medicine doctor, with western medicine foundation, I decided it was worth a shot. I mean, my own doctors praised my numbers, but never gave me any guidance as to why I just felt off. This visit changed so much for me. Our 1 hour conversation was all about me. He asked a lot of unexpected questions. His approach reminded me of a good project manager, digging deep to uncover the friction points in my day to day habits. At the end of the hour, he proceeds to tell me what he believes my symptoms are. Let me say that again. He didn’t ask my symptoms. He asked questions, verified understanding of my expected symptoms, and suggested experimentation. His hypothesis was my food choices and recommended an elimination diet. I walked out of the office feeling so hopeful. I had a plan. For 10 days, I followed the elimination diet to the letter. During the process, I recorded how I felt. Let me share that this was one of the first times I really tuned into and listened closely to my body. (It is communicating with you all the time, if we would just listen The entire process was fascinating. I could not wait to get back to share what I learned. He listened attentively and said “Michelle, food is really your biggest driver of your health and well-being. If you want to eat those things, then eat those things, but know that you are going to feel bad. You have empowered yourself to make better choices for you.” I decided to take even more personal responsibility for my heath and I recognized that the most important thing I could do was fuel myself with the things that optimized my body’s function and sense of well being. I also realized that I never knew what it was like to feel good. My good days before becoming enlightened by the power of my food choices didn’t even compare to a good day when I’m treating myself well. Putting the right fuel in my body improved my sleep, gave me more energy, helped my overall mood.
All of these changes improved my relationships and job performance as well. The biggest benefit was that it nudged me to look inside of myself and start investing in a relationship there. The reality is that I wasn’t treating myself very well. In fact, I was giving so much to everyone else, that I was destroying my health. This gave me permission to put myself first and recognize that by investing and nurturing me, I am able to have a much more positive impact on those around me.
Making personal changes is uncomfortable. So many people question your motivation and poke holes in what you are doing. It takes courage to go against the norm. I find it fascinating that eating healthy and different than other people could stir up so much judgement. Had I come home with a prescription for depression, no one would have blinked. When I talked about food as fuel and holistic/eastern medicine, I was ridiculed. It takes courage to stay the course, but I constantly remind myself of my before and I do not ever want to go back to that. I look around and see my friends and family struggling with health issues. I am terrified of that and refuse to contribute to declines in my health. I choose to be in the driver’s seat.
I choose to be a Brave Balanced Woman.