Re-write Your Story ~ Heal Your Life

I grew up with such awesome and loving parents, that it never occurred to me that they might not be feeding me food that was good for me. I mean, why would a family with enough money not be spending it on foods that would keep us all healthy and thriving to the best of our abilities?!

After all, my parents were both college educated and beyond. My father grew up in a large family and they often struggled to get by. He definitely didn’t have much choice about the foods he could eat or when he could eat them. So he put his head down and focused on his studies, eventually paying his way through college, and then Harvard Business School. He was determined to provide a different life for his family.

And he did! My brother and I were blessed with a nice home in a safe neighborhood, an incredible education, and continuous sports and social activities to keep us busy and fulfilled. Our parents instilled in us that with belief, perseverance and a positive attitude, we could be, do and have anything we wanted in life.

Looking back, it seems they poured their hearts into every aspect of our being EXCEPT the foods we put in our bodies. But who can blame them? We were living in the age of comfort and ease. With both parents working full-time, fast food restaurants and dinners from boxes and cans offered a tantalizing solution.

A typical week’s menu in our house looked like this: Kraft macaroni and cheese, McDonald’s, frozen pizza, KFC, McDonald’s (yep, again!), pasta and meatballs out of a can and maybe one home cooked meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas. Our pantry? Sugary cereals, and bags and bags of Fritos, Cheetos and Doritos. Our freezer? Lots of boxed dinners and ice cream galore.

For many, this diet would manifest outwardly with significant weight gain. But for my brother and me, thanks to being very active in sports, we remained lean. We looked healthy, so no harm done, right?

It may have appeared that way from the outside, but my insides told a very different story. I was perpetually sick. If someone in a room across the school and behind a locked door had a virus, I’d somehow catch it. By the time I was a teenager, I was plagued with chronic infections, horrific cystic acne, thyroid issues and both depression and anxiety.

How did my doctor handle it? Did she look at my diet or attempt to get to the root cause in any way shape or form? Nope. She wrote prescriptions. Lots of them. Quick fixes for the depression and anxiety, antibiotics for the infections….and when they kept recurring, she prescribed higher doses for longer periods.

Never ONCE did anyone talk to me about my diet.

As a mother, and the person I am today, I cringe at the memories. I can’t imagine a more worthy cause than nourishing my children from the inside, so they can flourish on the outside.

But as I reflect back on my upbringing, I realized that just like the many other well-intentioned parents out there, my parents were doing the best they could with the information they had.

And therein lies the problem.

Quality information is hard to come by. We are bombarded by deceptive advertising and mixed messages everywhere we turn. How do we know who to trust?

I was asked to write this post by the American Recall Center, a new site devoted to providing health and wellness news in simple, straightforward terms. Their ultimate goal is to build the most comprehensive online resource for timely and trusted material regarding healthcare topics that matter to the consumer. By doing so, their readers can take complete charge of their health by being fully informed. Each month, they will have a new topic in their Community section, and this month the spotlight is on Hip Replacement Awareness.

In the sea of information that is the internet, I’d say they have a lofty and admirable goal. I wish them the best, of course, and fully support their mission.

So what did they ask me to write? As part of their “Who Keeps You Healthy” campaign, they invited me to write about my personal Health Hero.

To me, heroism is about courage and bravery in the face of adversity. While there are many people I could list today who inspire me greatly on my journey toward optimal health, I wouldn’t even be on this journey if I hadn’t taken a stand, for MYSELF, and chosen a different path. If I chose to continue down the path I was on, I saw a lot of illness, pain and sorrow. At the same time, branching out into the uknown felt terrifying in it’s own right.

Despite my fears, I knew this was my chance to re-write my story and heal my life. 

two roads diverged

So today, I am doing something I rarely do, and honoring myself. My hope in sharing this is to inspire even one person who feels they are at the depths of despair when it comes to their health.

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Can you relate?

I wanted so badly to be able to snap my fingers and feel better. I didn’t know the first thing about healthy eating, and certainly knew nothing about cooking. I wanted it to be easy, and I wish I could tell you that it was. While it wasn’t easy, it did get easier. And easier. And eventually, dare I say, even fun?! The better I felt, the more inspired I was to try something new, to learn more, to dig deeper.

I had an epiphany about my health when I moved in with a couple that was a few years older than me the summer after my freshman year at UW-Madison. They were incredibly health-conscious, and what I learned from them was one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I learned that what we choose to put at the end of our fork has the power to destroy us OR the power to heal us.

That summer I made a conscious choice…..I chose healing.

And I’ve never looked back.

I started simple. Focusing inward, and savoring the flavors of home-cooked meals by my roommates. I read books. Lots of books. Local farmers markets and co-ops became my stomping ground.

I’ll admit, the journey has had it’s share of highs and lows. I was in the prime of my college years, after all! It wasn’t until I finished college that I was able to fully dive in to what is possible when we treat food as our medicine.

I spent some time traveling by myself, digging deep and doing some serious internal scrubbing in order to let go of the story that I had defined myself by up until that point. Before long, every action I took was fueled by my ever-increasing passion for health and living life to the fullest. I returned home and immersed myself in my studies while I worked as a Personal Trainer in San Francisco.

Today, my journey has come full circle. As a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, my passion is to support people in feeling powerful around their food and lifestyle choices. Because when you feel that power, your whole life opens up.

And as a mother, I am beyond grateful for my journey. I know that I am nourishing my children’s bodies, minds and spirits through the food I feed them. They are really healthy and happy kids, and it feels pretty awesome knowing that I’m adding to that, not depleting it. And when one of my children needed very specific dietary changes, I was ready and able to take on the task. The numbers of children faced with various reasons that they can’t eat certain foods is increasing at an alarming rate, and I want EVERY mom to feel ready and able should that time come.

For me, it all began with a very clear and conscious choice. I’m not really sure why so many of us struggle to let go of our “story”, when all it does is hold us back from our greatness. Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown? The fear that we will will be misunderstood by our loved ones? Perhaps it’s the fear of failure, or possibly even our greatness itself.

I know I felt ALL of that. But I felt the fear and did it anyway.

My hope is that you do not let your story define you.

story ending

I hope that something I’ve shared can be the catalyst for change that you are looking for. Because the ultimate power lies within YOU. Being your own health hero is a powerful and life-enhancing process. Seek inspiration along the way, and find a support system. Even as a coach, I am always hiring coaches who can take me to the next level. But always remember that YOU are the only one who can decide how the story will end.

Faith over fear.

One. Step. At. A. Time.

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4 Responses to “Re-write Your Story ~ Heal Your Life”

  1. Beth, you are your children’s Hero too. I grew up in a candy & soda pop world. I was fortunate in that we ate dinner together with real food, not the types of food I eat today but it wasn’t from a box. my family thinks Im crazy for not liking cheesy, fried and fattening food but I know the quality as well as the quantity of my years will prove I am making the right decisions. and something funny Beth, people don’t know what “real” food tastes like anymore. I love the taste of my food. Im so glad you’re Healthy and Happy

    [Reply]

    bethallen Reply:

    Thanks so much, Yugonda. I hope my children always love to be healthy. I’m sure they’ll reach an age where they rebel, but it’s defnitely fun that they know the difference between kale and swiss chard, and that they understand that we want food to be delicious, but also to keep us healthy, happy and strong. And I totally agree…it is the best feeling to eat real food, know what it tastes like, and to love it. 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

    [Reply]

  2. Beth, Thanks for sharing your journey. Like you, coming from the Land of Dairy my childhood meals were much different than they are today. I have to agree, my parents did the best they could with what they had and with what the markets provided. They grew up on farms and I’m sure much of their learning came from the farm life as kids. As parents that were working and living in the city convenience became the norm to feed the family after a long day at work. That was then.

    Somewhere along the way I too became sick and tired of being sick and tired. I got lazy for a long time and one day woke up and said ENOUGH! I got busy. I got active again. I did a lot of research on fitness and proper nutrition and put what I was learning into practice. Today I still continue the journey to take care of my self and I still continue to learn. I’ve found it’s a process and it takes time to travel on the path. And yes, it’s so worth it.

    PS. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. I love the new look and the new direction. Glad to see you’re following your heart.

    [Reply]

    bethallen Reply:

    Don! It is definitely easy to get caught up in the “convenience” factor, but it is certainly not easy to go through life feeling so crappy all the time! I’m so glad you found your way out, and continue learning as you go. It really is so worth it. And thank you for your kind words. 🙂

    [Reply]

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