Keep Your Body Healthy This Fall (And Beyond)

Keep Your Body Healthy This Fall (And Beyond)
Photo courtesy of daretoliveyou.com
Photo courtesy of daretoliveyou.com

I’m sad to report that this will be my last article with The Awesome Mitten.

Over the course of the last nine months, I’ve shared pieces of my journey to better health through recipes, surprising successes (who knew I’d fall in love with SUP Yoga?) and not-so-perfect experiments (I am still a terrible runner), all with the hope that my story would inspire others to get out and make the most of every moment we have in our pretty little home state.

I am leaving this beautiful Mitten love-fest only because I am pouring everything I have into following my heart’s true calling… And I’m not going to lie to you, it is completely terrifying.

As I begin crafting my own future, I have found myself caught in the grips of self-doubt, as we all do when attempting to make major life decisions. Maybe you are stuck in a rut at work, while secretly wishing you could spend your days baking, or making furniture, or whatever wonderful thing you have to offer the world. It’s easy to look around and deem yourself unworthy of your dream–there are plenty of people standing by to tell you it would be silly or irresponsible.

Today, in the spirit of leaving it all on the table, I’d like to say… that is bullshit.

This time last year, I was buying into that bullshit, hardcore. At the ripe old age of 21, I was in a soul-sucking full-time job and an unhappy long term relationship. Each day was like a well-medicated coma, full of obligation instead of joy. I had done everything the world told me to do: gone to college, got a degree, found a job, and was well on my way to marriage and kids. So why was I so miserable? I had allowed myself to become so beaten down with fear of the unknown that I took zero risks, and my health suffered for it.

Fast forward a year, and I am the happiest I have ever been. I quit my job, left my boyfriend, and instead of attempting to get life all figured out, I started LIVING it. Here’s what I’ve learned:

The Only Medicine You Need is Self-Love.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Roll your eyes at my inherent Beatles-style hippiness if you must, but take some time to let that really settle in. We are so trained to put ourselves last and protect our hearts from potential rejection or failure that we fill our own heads with toxic “what ifs.” Even now, as I write this article so full of love and passion, my body screams at me to stop. Hide my feelings and write another piece about recipes.

But the risk, the beautiful, terrifying risk I am willing to take is that in accepting myself for all these words, YOU will read this and do the same.

My last piece of humble health advice for you is this: Go out, kick ass, and explore (and comment here to tell me all about your journey!). Your mind and your body will thank you.

If you need some inspiration, here’s a few ideas:
Do yoga.
Walk through nature and enjoy the beautiful colors fall in Michigan has to offer.
Eat more plants.
Treat yourself daily.
Sleep in (and take naps!).
Surround yourself with happiness warriors (even if you think they will drive you crazy).
Play like a child.
Don’t be afraid to say “no.”
Cut out the foods, activities, and people which leave you feeling drained.

Photo courtesy of GoodReads.com
Photo courtesy of GoodReads.com

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Thanks primarily to long marathons of the Food Network (shout out to Alton Brown!) and many failed kitchen experiments, I have come to appreciate the ever-important role of food and fitness in a healthy a lifestyle. My view? It doesn't make you an elitist to be educated about what you put in your body. There is no rule book that says you have to become a vegan overnight, or cut out gluten entirely, or start wearing a beret and shopping solely at fair-trade markets. You can still go out with friends, shop at Meijer, and keep quick, easy food on hand. You're in a hurry, you're on a budget... I get it. But you CAN make just a few small changes and lose weight, prevent disease, and have more energy. I'm here to prove it. Join me on my ever-growing quest to find the most delicious, nutritious food and learn from the people who grow it, sell it, and cook it- right here in our own backyard.