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A “Moment of Yes” can change your life, even if you make it when you’re not living the life you want. That’s at least the case for me and my story, and today, I’m sharing that exact moment with you.
Everyone has a story when it comes to their health and where they are today on their health journey, and while many of you know my story, I don’t think I’ve ever shared the exact details of the moment I chose a different life than the one I was leading and what prompted me to make such a choice. To be honest, talking about my “Moment of Yes” isn’t very easy for me, but as most of us know, some of the best decisions we make are also the hardest and are made in moments that we’d rather forget.
Flashback to 2004. It’s late August, my least favorite time of the year when it’s hot and humid here in SC to the point that it’s nearly suffocating. The fall hasn’t quite arrived yet and summer’s heat has gotten the best of everyone by this point. Meanwhile, I’m in the midst of a great depression, and when I say that, I’m not saying it mildly or kidding.
I had been dealing with one of the worst bouts of depression and panic attacks for one year straight during my first year of college, a time I had looked forward to my entire life and worked my tail off to get to. I was someone who had “always had it together” and had been the girl with straight A’s in school. I had always made the A honor roll, been in the “in” crowd, and despite being shy and timid, managed to be socially involved as much as possible. I was also someone that loved life as much as any teenage girl could, and yet, I hit complete rock bottom the August after I graduated high school, right before I went off to college.
That time of my life was 15 years ago, and yet, some parts of it still feel like it was yesterday while other parts of that time seem like a whole other life.
I’ll spare you the details of what led to my great depression, (because that would take a book to write, not a blog post), but to sum it up, it was a mixture of five huge personal losses in my life that happened right before I went off to college all alone.
Then there was the pressure to maintain an A average to keep my scholarships while trying to deal with the losses I had experienced and being at school with a bunch of strangers. It was all enough to send a Type A girl like myself over the top… or rather, to the bottom. As an overachiever, people pleaser, perfectionist, and someone who still feels like a timid, shy girl going off to kindergarten scared to death of change sometimes, I can tell you that kind of pressure got the best of me in every way possible.
I realized for the first time in my life that I had to learn to be independent and couldn’t rely on others for happiness or to tell me how to take care of myself. That was hard for me because honestly, it made me realize the worst thing I’d ever realized in my life: I didn’t really know myself—at all. I had no idea of what I truly wanted to do in life or what I would do without the people I loved most in life. Despite my faith, I felt alone and scared and realized I had no inner strength, at least not yet.
In short, my lowest point in life is where my health journey really began to culminate and led me to where I would find my inner strength. In late 2004, the medications I was given to treat the depression began to take a big toll on my health and mood. I hollowed myself out in my dorm room until everything got so bad that I had to move back home and take a leave of absence from school for an entire year.
For a year solid, I locked myself in a prison of self-hatred, shame, sadness, and sorrow. I wasn’t supposed to be this girl. I was supposed to have it together. That was my philosophy at the time. I didn’t think I was allowed to have a hard time. As a result, I treated my body horribly, looked terrible, made bad decisions with my health, and despite being someone who never got into trouble at all, I became someone that I didn’t know or recognize when I looked in the mirror.
Looking back, I want to shake myself silly but I know that the girl I used to be is not the woman I am today. I had to go through many things before my real strength would develop. In fact, that year of pure hell is what brought me to where I am today and that led to my “Moment of Yes!” that I’d like to share with you today.
My “Moment of Yes!” story didn’t happen on a sunny day or in a sunny place. In fact, it happened in a dark, stuffy, abandoned gym with nearly blinding fluorescent lights late at night after I’d ran myself silly trying to escape the day and after a day of hardly eating a thing. I fell to my knees in the gym in tears all alone and cried out to God. I prayed—hard. Then I got up, exhausted physically and mentally, and I made a decision.
I made a choice right then and there to choose me. To choose something better. Because I realized that NOT choosing myself and abandoning me was the very problem that had gotten me where I was. I chose to stop abusing myself in order to help myself by learning to take care of myself for the first time in my life. That’s where my story of turning a new page really happened.
As I began making better decisions and using my intelligence to work for me instead of against me, I realized I loved learning about health and nutrition. I began eating balanced meals, began exercising normally and regularly instead of randomly and obsessively, and for the first time in life, I started to cook healthy meals for myself. I also took better care of myself in other ways and began to get a regular night’s sleep. I learned how to read nutrition labels and started spending more of my own budget to buy my own food so I could prepare healthy options. I quit living off of boxed pastries, cookies, and ice cream and stopped eating refined sugar, red meat, and refined grain products.
Within a month, I felt like a different person.
Flash forward a year or two in 2006 and I didn’t just feel like a different person; I became a new person. Still grieving from the personal losses in life but at least choosing to move on and care for myself, I became a stronger and happier person. I discovered who I was.
At this point, I was nowhere close to being vegan or even thinking about it at the time, but I was at least interested in eating healthier foods and choosing more plant-based vegetarian options by instinct.
Two years later, in 2008, I had changed schools and decided to get a degree in nutrition instead of becoming a full-time journalism major. I would later become a “whole food” vegetarian due to what I started to learn about the benefits of eating a whole food plant-based diet which ultimately led to a greater passion I hadn’t imagined at the time.
During my nutrition degree program in college, around 2009, I became incredibly passionate about sharing health with others through my greatest passion—writing. This led to me starting a blog and I slowly journeyed into the world of blogging. It took many years to get to where I am today and my blog has changed and morphed into different versions to get to where it’s at today; it’s always a work in progress and by no means have I reached all my goals with this amazing and always changing career and passion.
Through blogging, I started saying “Yes!” to sharing healthy recipes and decided to fully dedicate my blog to sharing plant-based nutrition and healthy lifestyle tips with others. That in itself was scary because I chose not to live a life where I worked in a stuffy office in a 9-5 job doing something that didn’t make me happy, which may have very well happened had I not decided to listen to my heart. My life isn’t perfect, to say the least, but it’s at least one I chose to live so I could follow my passion and chose to do so in order for a greater good.
The moral of the story is that a “Moment of Yes!” to our health—or life for that matter— doesn’t always come in happy, shiny moments, but it can be a moment that leads to brighter, happier days and can lead us to a greater purpose even if we don’t see it at the time.
My “Moment of Yes!” story is one I’ll never forget even though it came at one of the hardest times in my life. I know many of you have dealt with hard things as well, and I believe that when we share our “Moment of Yes” stories with others that it allows us to help one another and use our stories for a greater good.
That’s why I’m proud to partner with a company that is also inspiring women to say “Yes” to themselves through some of their latest products.
Campbell’s Soups has created a line of soups called Well Yes!® Soups that I’m proud to recommend as a nutritionist and wellness advocate. I believe it’s important to know what types of products to choose at the store when choosing better for you products, and Campbell’s line of Well Yes Soups® is a great choice. In fact, Well Yes! Soup line even has vegan, plant-based options!
Friends, this is “A Soup in the Right Direction®” for sure!
Well Yes! Soups are also part of the Well Yes mission by Campbell’s which helps women say yes to deliciously crafted food, with real nutritious ingredients. Well Yes!® Soups are crafted with care, contain purposeful ingredients that do not contain artificial flavors or colors, are made with non-GMO ingredients, and contain non-BPA lining.
I also just love that there are many vegan and vegetarian options within the Well Yes! line of soups for people to choose from, including Italian Vegetable with Farro Soup (vegan and my favorite variety), Hearty Lentil Vegetable Soup (vegetarian and the variety that my family happens to love), Cajun Red Bean & Vegetable Soup (vegan), and Chickpea & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (vegan). These are absolutely fantastic and taste and smell incredible with a simple reheating on the stove (or microwave if you prefer).
The vegan options are also clearly stated on the cans, which I appreciate so much for clarity and assurance purposes. Best of all, the ingredient list on every single can of Well Yes! Soups are ones that I can pronounce and understand because they’re made from simple ingredients and no preservatives. They’re also full of fiber and contain real vegetables!
Well Yes! Soups are part of a movement that I’m glad to see happening right now, which is to simply eat more real foods that are nourishing. I love that companies are changing ingredients to meet this need that consumers have to consume no artificial ingredients and no genetically modified ingredients or added hormones in their food.
Well Yes! Soups are available at local retailers near you that carry Campbell’s products. Just look out for the bright and colorful packaging on the Well Yes! line (which I love, by the way). I highly recommend the Italian Vegetables With Farro in the green can (pictured above) if you want to try my favorite variety out. 🙂
As you all know, plants are my passion and sharing them in every way possible is my purpose for 2018. My goal for this coming new year is to try more varieties of plant-based dishes outside of the ones I normally do and to branch out and try different varieties of flavors and techniques in the kitchen. After all, branching out and trying new things is what led to better choices for me so many years ago.
So I want to continue to fill my body with whole plant foods, explore various outlets of writing and recipe creation, and hopefully inspire others along the way. This is my “Yes!” for the new year and I’m all in all the way!
I’m grateful to where my “Moment of Yes!” has led me and I’m thankful that it led me to a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet has improved so many things in my life, even down to my yoga routine and the way I view the world, the earth, and the value of real food. So it’s my passion to keep saying “Yes!” to plants in my kitchen and to help and inspire others to do the same, on whatever level that means for them.
Thank you for listening to my story and being part of my journey, just by reading this blog. It really means more to me than you could know and I read and reply to every single comment I get because I value all of you who take time to read each post.
Now, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share a snippet of your “Moment of Yes!” story or share what your favorite thing about eating plant-based is.
Last but not least, there’s even a special sweepstakes you can enter down below to win a great prize in honor of the Well Yes! Soup line by Campbell’s. It’s as easy as clicking, logging in, and sharing your Moment of Yes story! If you win, think of all the ways you can use the prizing to achieve your Moment of Yes!
Thanks for reading, and thank you to Campbell’s for allowing me to share such a special message with all of you!