Back then, I was moonlighting as an actor while bartending in the Meatpacking District six nights a week from 5pm to 5am, cabbing home as the sun rose over Grand Central Station and the commuters poured out.
So I'm sure you can imagine what my diet looked like. (Not good!) (Pretty terrible!) I subsisted off of coffee, low fat yogurt, and lettuce during the day in a fruitless attempt to feel like I was being healthy. At night, I traded that in for nachos, french fries and innumerable shots of tequila - finished off with a daily 5am egg and cheese wrap from the diner down the block (they knew me by name).
Yes, I gained weight, yes I was extremely fatigued. Yes, I was sick all the time. In the moment I figured that it was "only temporary," until I was able to change my lifestyle. That could wait. My health could wait.
On this morning when I woke up, in the most extreme pain I had ever felt, I called my father - who is a Physician's Assistant and I always call for medical advice. He sent me to the drug store doctor, for a narcotics prescription. I typically have never liked taking pills, but I was in so much pain I didn't know what else to do. I felt like I had no choice. This doctor referred me to a pain specialist, and I didn't have insurance at the time. I felt more and more backed into a corner. I realized that these pain killers were only a band-aid on a much bigger problem. And a bandaid on a broken bone doesn't do much!
So I decided to try something else. I decided to defy convention and take my situation into my own hands. I went for my first acupuncture treatment that afternoon and after an hour on the table, I felt like a new woman! I still had a little pain, but it was just a mild irritation in comparison to what I had felt before. I was in awe. This experience really opened a door for me that changed the course of my life.
I started exploring my health voraciously. I realized that for a very long time I had been abusing my body and this was the result - extreme pain, sickness and fatigue at twenty-five. I could choose to continue on as I had before, or I could take ownership of my health.My body was screaming at me to make a shift and I had to listen. I could no longer pretend that I was being healthful. I could no longer pretend that everything was fine.
So I found myself a nutritional coach. He introduced me to Macrobiotics and I dug in. From there I explored the "Paleo" approach. I started reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, and attending online summits. I started cooking for myself, resting more, and started a regular meditation practice.
I started noticing that I was losing that extra weight, my energy was boosted and more even throughout the day, and my overall mood was lighter and happier. The more I experienced, the more passionate I became. This new lifestyle rocked!! It didn't feel like a restricted "diet," or that I was limited in any way. My tastebuds started to crave healthier foods and the crap I had been eating before started to taste pretty gross. Getting into the kitchen for "experiment time" became one of my favorite hobbies.
For a time I was terrified that it wouldn't stick - that I would fall back into my old, destructive habits, and there were points that I did. But the difference between when I was treating myself well and when I was abusing myself were so extreme that if I "fell off the wagon," I couldn't tolerate it for long. That made me really believe in the true sustainability of what I was doing for myself.
Friends started asking me my "secret" was, and I found myself giving them advice on how to make changes in their life. I loved to share recipes, new healthy restaurants, and holistic skincare techniques. So, I was propelled to go back to school to train to be a health and wellness coach at the Academy of Healing Nutrition. Now, I love what I do.
Everyone has their own journey to health and the first step is to get into the drivers seat. We all have access to the ultimate source of information on what our body needs - ourselves. I strive to help my clients start listening to that little voice that often gets lost in the noise of our modern life. We have the power to heal ourselves when we tune into the desire, drive, and get support. Sometimes it starts because of an acute situation like mine was, and sometimes it's seeing a loved one fall ill. Whatever it is, that little voice that says "help me be the best body I can be for you!" deserves your attention. Your health can't wait. We only have one body and it deserves the best from us, so we can live a truly healthy and happy life.