Feeling Balanced.


Since late February I have made some major life changes. From my diet to my mind set I can say I feel like I have turned a complete 180 from where I was last March! This time last year you would have found me curled up in a ball having panic attacks every other day (almost).  I had gained 18lbs since college ended, had no dreams and was lost in a career path that was never meant for me.

It was a very slow process of pulling myself out of the sink hole that I hurled myself in…it actually took a solid year to feel secure again. But with some help from family, close friends, Susan (my mentor) and a LOT of help from God I was mentally ready to take on the biggest risk yet…moving 6,000 miles away from home!

I have grown a lot since coming here in August but without me knowing, God was preparing me for another growth spurt. It all started with a digestive system. Frequently I found myself sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t even be social because I was experiencing major pains, I felt like a balloon all the time and couldn’t take a dump worth the life of me (haha). After doing some research and chatting with friends I decided I would give this Whole 30 a try.

The month of March I committed myself to doing the Whole 30 Challenge. For those of you that are not familiar with Whole 30, it is a health challenge for 30 days.  No sugar (real or artificial). No grains. No legumes. No alcohol. No starchy foods (corn/white potatoes). No carrageenan, MSG or sulfates (any processed food). AND No soy. So what did I live on for 30 days?  Fruits, vegetables, and every kind of meat/ protein I could get my hands on.

It has been so hard, but I am amazed at how quickly all my digestive issues went away! And the best part…my stubborn weight is literally MELTING off!  I have finally lost most of the weight that I gained once my track and field days were over (13lbs=gone!), my skin has cleared up and I no longer suffering from digestive issues.

So finding my life balance all started with the thing I love most, food. Little did I know this positive, 30 day commitment would spark a ripple effect in every area of my life.

I started out with the cabbage soup detox once I got back from Thailand (late Feb).  My stomach pains were at an all time high and I needed a good cleanse to kick start my new life style change.  The cabbage soup detox lasted for a little over a week; I lost 5lbs from it (mostly water weight). It is not something you want to live off of or use as a crazy crash diet, but as a cleanse every now and then.  What I like about the detox is that it is a good cleanse of the system and prep for some dramatic diet changes.  After the detox I gave myself 5 days to eat my last bits of chocolate before I banned it for 30 days. I also allowed myself time to research what meals/ foods to cook that were Whole 30 approved.  To help with my motivation I even made a bet with my doubtful boyfriend, Kevin. He said I couldn’t make it the whole 30 days without chocolate and ice cream.  So the bet was on…I would get 100,000won (~$100) if I did not eat any ice cream or chocolate for the entire 30 days. We both figured I would cheat 3 days in so the bet was the perfect motivator for me….and in about 4 days I will be taking Kevin’s money with a big smile on my face!

Moving on to the Whole 30 challenge…the first 3 days were rough. I am addicted to sugar and not having it in my body at all caused my body to go into shock….. massive headaches and living in a constant brain fart for 72hrs.  However, once I made it through my first 7 days I was amazed at the changes in my mood, my energy levels (especially in the morning) and my body in general.

So this past month has been a bit of a selfish one and a very trying one but, I could not be happier.  I have learned so much about my body, cooking and my personal health that I never knew as a college athlete.  Everyone says to get fit, eat healthy and exercise. Agh…..I know, I know, but holy crap were they right!  When you finally decide to commit to putting healthy foods as a priority and follow it up with a little exercise the pounds almost disappear!  I am starting to feel lean and strong again like I did in track and my energy levels have boosted as well. In fact, I don’t even need coffee at work…green tea all the pick-me-up I need.

A major struggle with this diet is the social scene.  I quickly realized how eating out or going out would not be an option.  I couldn’t believe all the toxins I had put into my body before this diet and how my body had adapted to digesting them.  In fact, I have read that after doing Whole 30, many people can’t even eat pizza anymore…say wha?  Because once you take the chemicals and processors out of your diet and run your body on clean, natural foods, the body loses its ability to process foods like pizza, candy, even some grains.

A good friend once told me, after eating pizza upon completing Whole 30, “it felt like I had an alien living inside of me.”  The pain overwhelms you and processed foods no longer look appealing to you anymore.  Thank God!

Yeah…Whole 30 is definitely not an easy diet to hold or follow.  I struggled financially (meat is very expensive here), had extreme cravings (thought fried pig nostrils  in my local street market looked delicious the other day), laziness of cooking and prepping tomorrow’s lunches was a on-going battle, and finding Whole 30 approved meals to eat when I was out of town was tough as well. But with 4 days left…. it all has been well worth it.

This diet changed me physically, and with the left over energy I was able to look inward more.  With this came my next life change.  My outlook.  This month I have really been keeping close with God, not making him a check off on a ‘To Do’ list, but seeking Him out every day as the key ingredient to my inner balance.  His words have helped me become more patient and understanding with those who hurt me, its made me a more humble person, and, the toughest one right now…patience with myself.  I love my ‘To Do’ lists, I love planning out everything in my life.  Part of it is from my fear of ‘What the hell am I going to do after Korea?’ What career is the right one for me to follow, what relationships I need to work harder at… The list goes on. But with this new found energy and spiritual guidance from God I am finding peace and understanding in my life.

One thing I am starting to learn is that God created me to be dependent on Him…running after a never ending (and a lot of times unrealistic) ‘To Do’ list has and will only set me up for failure.  Being dependent on Him doesn’t make me weak, but a stronger, more confident (then I have every been) women.  So although I am not patient now, I will be faithfully waiting for God to give me the next move.

So with a steady diet of natural/Whole 30 foods and moments with God everyday I feel very complete and balanced in life. March has been a trying month, but a very successful one.  Convincing me that I am exactly what I eat, both physically and spiritually.

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Courtney French's Clinical Experience

Education does not change the world. Education changes people. People change the world. -Paulo Freire

Lily Ellyn

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

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