My journey with health started when I was 10 years old and decided to be a vegetarian. My mother was worried that I will not get all the nutrients and proteins I needed so I started reading up and studying about nutrition. When I was a teenager my parents opened two health food stores in our city. I used to work there after school and soon became the health expert of our town, people kept coming to me with requests for health advice and help with their various ailments, a role I played ever since.
When I moved to New York I decided to study holistic nutrition and started my private practice, taught classes, gave workshops and saw many clients.
Yet, I was embarrassed of being known as the “health freak”. I had my own struggles with compulsive eating and sugar addiction and while I believe that you teach what you need to learn and that you don’t need to be perfect and have all the answers, I felt like I had two sides, both equally needed to be hidden.
There was “Healthy Rachel” who only bought organic food, checked the lists of ingredients on labels and cooked delicious and nutritious whole foods. That Rachel had to be hidden because my family and friends felt bad about not being as healthy, ridiculed me for being too “health crazy” and made feel like I was different than the “crowd”.
Then there was “Compulsive Rachel”, the one that ate multiple candy bars one after the other and had night time binges. She also needed to be hidden because how can I teach and talk about health while I was doing that?
There is a wonderful thing that happens as you age, you start caring less about what other people think and start listening more to who you really are. And as I was learning, growing and healing, I started being less apologetic about who I was and learned to embrace all of me, struggles and all. I also learned to appreciate the incredible healing journey that I was on and the value that I bring to my clients and followers.
I decided to celebrate my health nuttiness!!! To be a proud health nut! It is ok if, when I eat out, I interrogate the waiter about how my food is prepared and what’s in it. It is ok if I tell my friends I want to meet at the health food restaurant. It is ok it takes me twice as much time to shop because I have to read the ingredient list on every label. It is ok if I host alcohol free gatherings and pass around kale-mango smoothies. I don’t judge you, and I don’t care if you judge me.
It is also ok that I don’t have it all together and that I still have health challenges and struggles. I learned to look at my struggles as assets, they give me more compassion and understanding to what the women I work with are going through and as I continue to grow and heal and figure things out, I am empowering myself and others.
So I call myself Health-Nut Girl and fly my health freak flag proudly!
Here are 7 lessons I learned on my health journey. I encourage you to follow them and free yourself to be fully you.
• Every little thing count.
When you are faced with a health challenge or decide to “make over” your health it is easy to get stuck on feeling overwhelmed. Focus on one small thing, one tiny change at a time.
• Let go of people’s reactions.
What other people say or think about you has NOTHING to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with them. If people react in a negative way to what you eat, how you live and the changes that you make it comes from their own unhappiness. A happy person is also a supportive person.
• Focus on you.
It is wonderful if you reach out and spread the health, but it’s ok if other people decline. What you do is YOUR journey and what they do is THEIR journey. Focus on YOU and you will inspire those who are ready to make changes.
• Listen to your body.
Don’t get caught up on one dietary system or health guru. As you grow and change, your needs will grow and change. YOU are the authority on your health, keep listening to your body and be open to trying different things. Your body will lead you to what’s best for you.
• The 80%-20% guideline.
You don’t have to be perfect. Aim to eat 80% of your foods in the form of whole, unprocessed, unrefined and chemical free foods. Include a lot of produce, preferable organic. Do it gradually. As you increase your healthy choices, they will crowd out the unhealthy choices.
• Always focus on your next choice.
It doesn’t matter what happened. It isn’t helpful to criticize yourself for having a “bad food day”. No matter what, always focus on your NEXT choice. Prepare the next meal in advance. Make it a healthy one. Look forward and keep going.
• Love yourself no matter what.
Nothing else will work if you don’t love yourself. Every healthy and positive change has to come from a place of self love. Practice compassion, mirror affirmations, journaling, make lists of what you appreciate about yourself, write a thank you letter to your body for all the things it does for you. Learn to love yourself. Now. Fully. Because who doesn’t want to take care of what they love?
So be yourself in all your glory, flash your peacock feathers, walk proud and no apologies necessary.