I am really excited to have my first guest post! I can’t think of anyone better than my youngest sister, Courtney. She was the final inspiration for me to start this blog, as you can see in my first post three weeks ago. I LOVE what she wrote. It is inspirational, honest and has a perfectly simple message. I have so much love for her and am so grateful that she shared her story and her message! It is also refreshing to have the perspective of a single woman in her 20’s living in Chicago. I hope this is a start to regular contributions from her. Enjoy!!
Party girl has been my modus operandi since NYE 1999 when I got drunk for the first time. Since then, I was a dutiful Captain who made sure to always go down with the party ship. I had a hell of a time and did some really crazy and fun things. The problem was when I wasn’t partying, I felt depressed and I was completely worthless. I knew that making healthier choices would allow me to enjoy my life more, but I was stuck in such a habit that was fueled by the pressure of maintaining the person that I had become, rather than the person that I wanted to be. I was mentally and physically exhausted, extremely unfulfilled and I was bored. So incredibly bored.
It’s true what they say – change doesn’t happen overnight. This has got to be one of the worst realizations ever because when you have as much to change as I do, it feels like it is going to take decades to correct. So completely overwhelming. Last August, as the summer was nearing an end, I had worn myself down with the warm weather drinking trap. I was out all the time, exercising only when I walked the dogs, and constantly eating like someone who was hungover, which I was. I felt incredibly unmotivated but I was determined to make just one good decision for my health; so I stopped drinking soda. I read a lot about the detrimental affects that dehydration can have on your body and was especially intrigued when I found that a lack of water can cause anxiety and depression. It seemed like a long shot, but I felt like if rehydrating my body would really ease the mess that was going on in my head, maybe it would become easier to make other good decisions.
Almost immediately after giving up soda, I started to feel better. My energy increased and the mental ups and downs were leveling off. It seemed like in every aspect of my life making the better choice was almost impossible to do when I didn’t feel well; but once I felt better, it seemed natural to keep the momentum going in other areas as well. During this time, I read a great book called, “The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First- The Simple Way to Defeat Depression, Overcome Anxiety and Sharpen Your Mind” by Dr. Mark Hyman. The gist of the book is that identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies through a diet of only natural ingredients and an increase in vitamins can turn around the capacity at which your brain functions. Quizzes in the book helped me figure out where I needed to up my vitamins. I immediately got the appropriate supplements and started taking them every day.
In November I was feeling pretty good and wanted to focus some of my new energy on volunteering. Helping strangers has always made me feel an incredible high that I don’t get anywhere else. Fast forward a few months and I have completed all of the training necessary to begin volunteering for the Northwestern Hospice Program. I find out next week who I am assigned to and will begin to spend a few hours a week sharing the end of someone’s life with them and hopefully adding as many more happy moments that I possibly can. I can only begin to imagine how rewarding this experience is going to be.
37 days ago, I stopped drinking as a part of a 90-day challenge I am doing with my dad. I can’t remember the last time I have enjoyed life this much. I have gone out until 3am and danced my ass off, being soberly aware of how horrible a dancer I am, but still not caring. I joined an awesome gym and am determined to be reunited with my abs. I have done yoga, boxing, rowing, lifting, and cardio classes. I completely dreaded every single one because it terrifies me to try new things, but I was so incredibly proud of myself each time I left.
Every positive part of my life in the past few months has come from just one choice. The awesome thing is EVERYONE can make just one good choice. When you wake up tomorrow, decide that along with your cup of coffee or coke, you are going to drink a glass of water. If that seems too hard then just have a sip of water. Wake up five minutes earlier and be on time for work. If that seems too hard then wake up five seconds earlier. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter how big or small your healthy decision is as long as you try to make one every single day.