You can do what you love and care for yourself at the same time.

I put my first pair of ice skates on at the age of 4. With each passing year I fell more in love and became more competitive. Sometime within those years I also developed more and more acute and chronic diseases.

I didn’t let disease get in the way of doing what I loved. In fact it was my main source of catharsis. I remember heading to the rink after doctor’s appointments, whenever the doctor gave in and said I was well enough. Ice skating allowed me to thrive, even when everybody was yelling at me to stop, which I understood as letting the disease win. My own body was telling me to stop, however in a way unlike everyone else was.

My body was telling me to adapt to my circumstances. I had to change how I was skating to make it more sustainable. My newfound commitment to skating was unlike the commitments of those I shared the rink with. I continued skating because I was finally skating for myself. I changed my approach because my lungs could no longer catch my breath, my brain could no longer slow down, and body could not longer take the beating. I hadn’t yet developed the connectedness between my mind and body. All I knew at the time was that something inside of me told me it was OK to love ice skating however I needed to.

I couldn’t share my mind shift with other people because couldn’t put it into words. I can now, having roughly 10 years to reflect. I didn't speak up because I didn’t want to let my family or my coach down. I agreed to compete in competitions and test in test sessions, however I was no longer passionate about wearing pretty dresses and skating for other people. I can express now what I couldn't then: I couldn’t continue on the necessary path to be a competitor, and admitting that to my supportive parents and coach felt impossible (which is why I never did, until now). Rather than feeling defeated and failing to thrive, I consciously chose to skate in a way that was fun and not a chore. I chose to skate in a way that supported my body and what I couldn’t name at the time – my spirit.

I’m sharing this story for all to see that it's possible do what you love in a way that will allow you to love your True Self.  Change your goals so that they are more realistic. I decided to skate 4 days per week rather than train 5 hours per day 5 days per week. I skated in intervals rather than for 3 hours straight.

My world didn't end. I'm still here. I thrived.

Doing what you love shouldn’t destroy your body or your relationships. Speak up. Your body and support system will love you, just in different ways. 

Sticking to My New Year's Resolution with Thug Kitchen

Last February a friend gave me a cookbook, Thug Kitchen, as what I believe to be a half-joke, half-serious birthday gift. Last March I searched for and moved into an apartment with a large bathroom and small kitchen. This week (mid-January) I opened the cookbook and learned my way around my small kitchen for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, I do often use my kitchen, but never to make meals by following recipes. Usually I’m in there making coffee, tea, smoothies or cutting fruits and vegetables. I went pro in college cooking well-balanced meals in the microwave.

I didn’t realize how unreliant I was on the stove or the oven until the gas was turned off to my building for about one month. The only thing I missed was boiling water. People kept asking how I was possibly surviving. During that month, I did get comfortable using a slow cooker that my mom gave me…years ago. However, life hadn’t changed that much because I’d gotten so crafty never cooking with a stove.

My time without a stove piqued my interest in cooking. I was tipped further over the edge after setting my new year’s resolution, to improve my self-nourishment techniques. As a person who spends her days helping others live healthier lives, it is important that I don't forget to do my own work. A week after setting my intention for the year, I cracked open the cookbook and chose to make lentil soup.

After a quick trip to Trader Joe’s, I was set. Because shokingly, I had all of the kitchen equipment I needed. I searched through cabinets and found a large soup pot, Martha Stewart utensils, a Vitamix, spices, vegetables, etc and fearlessly dove in.

What I learned:

  1. A vitamix is great for making soup. It’s not false advertising.
  2. Thug Kitchen helps make cooking less of a chore.
  3. It wouldn’t have mattered if I messed it up because I was and still am so proud of my tangible accomplishment, and knowing that I was actively taking steps to better care for myself. For the record though, I didn’t mess it up. The soup was delicious. And I enjoyed two meals from it. 

The Day I Accidentally Took 23,176 Steps

I’d already been wandering around Europe for about 2 weeks, and prided myself for not yet taking taxis or public transit… my friends and I walked EVERYWHERE. I never thought twice about it because walking was the easiest way to soak up all of the culture and scenery. I was able to immerse myself in Dublin, Edinburgh, London, and Barcelona.

It wasn’t until I arrived in Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia, a town relatively smaller in size than the other places I’d already visited, that my legs started telling me something. I often times forget I’m not superhuman, and that day my legs reminded me. They didn’t speak up until after I was halfway around the City Walls, a system of forts, bastions, casemates, towers, and detached forts with a magnificent view of Old Port and the Adriatic Sea. Its height reaches 83 feet and is about 1.2 miles around.

It doesn’t sound like that much. However, once you’re in the city walls, there’s really no turning back. There are endless stairs to climb (I also accidentally climbed 61 flights of stairs that day). And of course I had to stop to walk through and climb to see every fort and tower. My friend and I walked the city walls and saw almost everything the city had to offer. We left the walls where we’d started, and we both had the same look in our eyes saying, “I need food and water…now.”

My legs, my whole body, were telling me to chill out. But I didn’t want to hear it. Oftentimes, our minds are not aware of what our physical bodies are telling us. It’s a practice to become mindful of our bodies. I’ve learned to listen the hard way, but still forget in times when it’s most important to be aware.

My friend and I sat down to eat and rehydrate, and I looked at my iPhone Health App to learn I’d taken 23,176 steps by about noon. No wonder why my leg muscles ached. My mind went to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, reminding me that I am not my physical body – a concept I struggle with on a daily basis. That day it was quite important. Actually, everyday it is quite important. I don’t regret for a second not being aware of the amount of steps I was taking or flights I was climbing, or forcing myself to listen to the repercussions, or meditating on what it means to not have a superhuman body. There wasn’t a better place to contemplate the sutras than that day overlooking the Adriatic Sea.