Before 2013, I was living my life in a way that I would imagine is similar to many middle-class Americans.
Every day, I would get up in the wee hours of the morning to drag myself off to work at a stressful job that I hated, fighting rage-inducing traffic jams in both directions. I ate a poor diet that included a lot of packaged foods, processed sugar and hardly any fresh vegetables. I’d stay up late at nights and not get a proper amount of sleep. And, I lived paycheck to paycheck, under mounds of debt – credit card and otherwise.
Yep, I was pretty much living the “American dream.”
Until one day in late 2013, I found myself emotionally, spiritually and physically depleted.
It was the culmination of not just my lifestyle choices, but also a series of back-to-back traumas that had occurred over the course of just a few years, including an abusive relationship, the terminal illness and death of my father, and the terminal illness and death of my mother (who was also my very best friend).
It was a lot to handle, to say the least, and my body had had enough.
By the end of 2012, I was having mysterious symptoms that seemed to ravage my body from head to toe – headaches, dizziness, skin issues, constipation, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, brain fog, blood sugar issues, hormone imbalances and debilitating fatigue, just to name a few.
It was like my body was literally shutting down on me and even though I knew something was wrong, I was running into dead ends left and right with “traditional” doctors. I saw a PCP, my gynecologist, an endocrinologist, a gastroenterologist and a cardiologist, all to be told the same thing – there was “nothing wrong with me” and then promptly be offered a prescription for anti-anxiety medication.
I may or may not have broken down in tears on the exam table at one point out of sheer frustration. But, I did not give up!
I knew my body and I knew there had to be a reason that all of these things were happening to me.
Finally, I went to see a naturopathic doctor and everything began to make sense – I had adrenal fatigue. And, quite an advanced case of it, at that.
It wasn’t really surprising, once I learned about how it manifests (basically, your body’s “fight or flight” response gets overworked and burned out from repeated or prolonged stress, leaving your body to think it’s in an emergency situation 24/7). But, I was also happy just to find out that I wasn’t crazy!
I began to take supplements from the naturopath, changed my sleeping habits (a.k.a. got in bed earlier and took naps whenever I needed) and totally overhauled my diet.
But, when it came down to it, there was really one major thing I did that was a total game-changer for me. That helped me not only to start feeling better physically and emotionally, but also opened my eyes to an entirely new way of living.
Not just in one area of my life, but in every area.
I like to call it, God “stripping down and cleaning up” my life. It was like I could see life the way we were created to live and all of the other “stuff”… the physical clutter, the toxic food and products, the stress and emotional baggage… it was all just extra. Unnecessary. And certainly, unhealthy.
I started with my physical belongings. I had never really been a pack-rat or a hoarder, but I was like most Americans and on my own, had enough stuff to fill up a 14 ft. U-Haul truck. Again, like most people, I had become blind to it over the years. But, when I finally stopped and really looked at it… I realized how much of it I didn’t need.
I began to get rid of things and the more I did, the freer I felt. Getting rid of physical clutter that I had been holding onto was bringing up old emotions that I had been holding onto as well – and was forcing me to deal with them.
And as I did, as I let myself feel the grief, the guilt, the anger, the disappointment… whatever the emotions were that were attached to the objects, I was able to let them go… both the physical objects and the emotional baggage.
The downsizing and de-cluttering was literally making me feel like a lighter person and I didn’t stop until I had gotten rid of about 80% of my belongings! All in preparation to move into a 160 square foot tiny house on wheels. To me, it was the perfect way to have a home that was both rent and mortgage free, to be surrounded by only those things that I truly needed and loved, and most importantly, to be able to travel and get out in the world to DO more, not HAVE more.
But, it didn’t stop there.
As I was clearing out the physical clutter and letting go of old emotional baggage, I began to feel more empowered and I knew I wanted to start treating my body better. Mainly, in regards to what I put in it.
A rather simple yet profound revelation occurred, where I decided that I was going to put good things IN my body, if I wanted to get good things OUT of it.
So, I again, simplified my diet in the most obvious way – by getting back to eating foods in their most natural state. That meant more fruits and vegetables, less (or no) processed and genetically-modified foods, no sugar and for me (because of my adrenal fatigue), no gluten. I chose to keep eating meat, but switched to only meats that were organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free and humanely-raised.
And the more I leaned into it, the more my body responded with relief… and glee! It was like I was finally giving it what it had been wanting all along, before I began pumping it full of sugar, salt and chemicals.
Since what we put on our bodies goes in our bodies, I also began educating myself on the ingredients in my personal and home care products and was shocked at what I found. I, like many people, had been operating under the incorrect assumption that if something was available on the store shelves, it was safe for me to consume or use. However, that is far from the truth.
So again, I made it simple. I would stick to natural products, ones that had ingredient lists that I could actually read and understand (imagine that!). It took more effort (and often, more money), but in the end, it was worth it.
Because all of this simplifying, all of this “stripping down” and “cleaning up”… it was working.
My body got stronger and healthier, my mind got clearer and my spirit became more joyful. It was like a veil had been lifted and I was finally able to live life the way I was supposed to be living it all along.
And now, I am on a mission to help others to do the same thing.
Not all of our journeys will look exactly alike. Your issues may be different than mine or you may not be ready to simplify your whole life at one time.
But, you can begin by starting to make some changes today.
By simplifying your life so you can have less and do more.
So, you can stress less and live more.
And most importantly, so you can take control of your health and get your life back.
Be sure to listen to my podcast episode here on FitFluential where I show you how calming down and scaling back can transform your life!
If you’re ready to get started and want a friend to help you along the way, check out my “De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress” e-course collection where I walk you step-by-step through cleaning up your home, your body and your life! Use coupon code “FITFLUENTIAL20” to get 20% off of any course (expires 10/31/18).
Plus, enter to win a copy of my new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down and Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back and an official “Claim It, Receive It, Own It, Live It” Live a F.a.s.t. Life baseball tee here!