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In the peak of change-mindset month (January) I was faced with a problem. All of the things that has worked in the past to help me lose weight were not working. They weren't working because I was giving up on them within days of starting them.
Once I'd given up I'd head to the internet and begin online shopping.
I was constantly trying to fill these gaping voids of unhappiness in my life with either superficial solutions or material goods. Every time, I'd cave and buy sweets I'd feel like a failure. Every time, I looked at my paycheques and what I'd spent on my favourite online retailers, I would stress about not being able to pay rent.
Finally, in a moment of clarity, I realized that I was approaching this all wrong. I needed to take a real, honest look at myself and figure out why I was so unhappy and why I thought looking fit and having sh*t would help.
In October of 2018, I found out my parents were getting separated. I always imagined this would be easier as an adult. Every adult I ever talked to who had parents who separated later seemed fine. They always said, "they are better off now."
In my line of work, I didn't really have the time to take time off. I am paid by the client—no more than that. So if I take a day to grieve my parents separating, I also lose a lot of money. So I really did not take the time to come to terms with my feelings and process this major change in my life.
Over time ignoring those feelings began to take its toll. What was really making me unhappy was that I wasn't addressing how sad it made me feel that my parents were separating, or how weird Christmas felt, or how awkward and sad New Year's was. I carried on because I had to.
But the mind is a beautiful thing. It does not let these things just pass you by—especially when they are important to personal growth.
When I finally realized what was making me so unhappy, I realized why I thought dieting and shopping would make it better. Everyone who is "happy" on the internet is fit, famous, and owns stuff. So I simply followed the present model and tried to apply it to my life.
We now know that didn't work.
So I said goodbye to dieting and took on a more intuitive approach to eating. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I let my body change according to that and over time realized what foods made me feel good, and what foods stole the life from me and added to my already broken mind. I also stopped putting pressure on myself to go to the gym all the time. I went when I had the energy, and I didn't when I didn't.
As for buying stuff I simply stocked up my carts but never clicked buy. I kept myself in check and reminded myself that things will not make this better.
Instead of buying things, I invested in a psychologist. This is by far the best way I have spent my money in years. Over four sessions, I worked through my family crisis, my past leading to my present, my personality quirks that have always been present and why I was feeling so angry and upset. It was liberating.
I found out who I am again. I rediscovered what I love, what I don't need, and what gets me up in the morning.
As I healed my heart and mind everything else seemed to fall back into place. I now worry less about what I am eating and simply enjoy the foods that give me energy and support the life I live. I go to the gym when I have time and when I don't I have taken up skipping! I also had a random kitchen dance party to this song on repeat for 15 minutes before I went into work the other day!
Really, Really Good Dance Party Song
So yes, I definitely still have some work to do. We should always be happy with who we are but understand that we were made to adapt and grow as well.
From my perspective working in the fitness industry I see it far too often where people have some other deeper rooted unhappiness, but they think that by paying a personal trainer to make them look better that they will feel better. For some it does work, but for many, their inner demons eventually take over.
All this to say it is so important to self-reflect and make address your demons. Face them head-on with support from a professional or trusted loved ones. The thought of who I would have become had I not gone to see someone is a scary one. I honestly think I would have lost myself so much that it's been very challenging to bring her back.
If you struggle with any level of unhappiness it doesn't have to be a life sentence. Find a good psychologist, it is worth the investment, and start discovering how your strength comes from facing and overcoming your weaknesses.