- Alyson Chaney
The Story of My Wellness Journey.
When I was a teenager, being active was easy. I was an athlete, my workouts were handed to me and I was fed the decently healthy food in front of me (thanks to my mom, I did have that going for me). Kids seriously have it so easy, dang we took everything for granted.
But when college came, things started to change for the worse. After a year of partying, I started becoming more aware of how I looked (thanks to mean spirited roommate comments) I was skinny but had a… ahem, vodka belly, and no muscle definition… I was a term I dislike, “skinny fat”. I loved Burger King and alcohol, those were pretty much the two food groups I relied on.
I remember feeling tired all of the time, I got sick often, I was not being nice to my body, mentally, physically, or emotionally.
This unhealthy relationship with myself went on for a number of years and the most I “learned” about nutrition was to eat foods with seemingly healthy labels. (think fat-free, Lean Cuisine and Healthy choice)
I eventually got a big girl job, which forced me to stop drinking as much. For the first time, I loved what I was doing and I had a purpose. I came out of this college haze. I started dating someone who liked to cook with real food, and we cooked together. Cooking was fun, work was fun, WHO THE EFF WAS I??
I decided to start being active after 3 years of living a sedentary lifestyle, and I joined a gym. A year goes by, the boyfriend doesn’t last, but my spark for fitness and nutrition gets stronger.
Have you ever had that moment when you finally look in the mirror and say “Woah! I didn’t know my body could look like that!”? (If you haven’t, don’t underestimate that you could have that movement too!) I mean, for the first time in my life I had muscle definition.
I decided to get serious, I asked Mr.Google everything fitness and nutrition-related. I started lifting heavy, drinking protein shakes and pre-workout, and attempting to track my food. I mean I almost had abs!
Physically, I was in the best shape thus far in my life, and then just like that… I found out I was 16 weeks pregnant. From that moment on everything changed.
Up until this point, the story I thought I was writing was that I didn’t want kids. I was selfish and I liked it that way. But after about a week of WTF moments, I just knew deep inside me I needed to change for the health of not only me but for him as well. I wanted the best life for this little being inside me. So I started learning even more. I was consumed with looking up information like “what to eat for babies brain development, should I go vegan, what kind of exercise should I be doing, what kind of music should I put on my belly” The list goes on! I'm sure some of you can relate!
As I became more knowledgeable and satisfied with the progress of my nutrition and fitness choices, my rock-hard 27-year-old body started to change, and HOLY SHIT that was the worst for my ego. I didn’t really look pregnant until I was about 7 months. Before that, I just look like I ate a really big Thanksgiving dinner… twice.
I felt awful about how I looked, and then I would feel guilty about feeling awful. (I guess mom guilt starts early!) I was pregnant during the summer and would cry in the closet every weekend thinking of being in a bathing suit in front of other people. Now, I didn’t have the best support system to help me through this… (Read this blog post if you're interested in how I became a single mom.)
So, finally, after a mentally rough 42 weeks (yep, 2 weeks late), my son was born. From this point on I developed what I found out later was pretty severe postpartum depression (and anxiety, yay!)
For the first few months after his birth, I couldn’t be in crowds, I felt like I was constantly going to have a panic attack. After the paralyzing fear wore off, the general public still made me feel anxious. I lost interest in almost everything except for my son, the only thing (besides him) that brought me a hint of joy was exercise.
After that final 6 week check-up from my doctor, I got the green light for physical activity. I wasn’t asked at all how I felt mentally, and when I tried to express it during my last doctor visit, it was swept under the rug, (which I feel is quite a problem within the healthcare system.) Luckily for me, exercise helped me tremendously. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have the insight knowing how important exercise was!
I started home workouts, I went on walks a few times a day, and then when my son was older I made sure to join a gym that I could bring him to.
But, even with fitness back in my life regularly, I still didn’t feel balanced, I couldn’t figure out exactly what was off. From then to the present day, it has been a long road of learning self-respect and self-care. But working towards aligning myself to my truest form has opened paths and doors for me that I didn’t see in my future prior to this.
I took small steps and some leaps to change careers as I knew I wanted to help other moms who were struggling like me. I ended up leaving my sons’ father which was the beginning of treating myself with respect.
I have been on a quest to find out what works, what’s sustainable, what’s fun, and what can be incorporated into my child’s life as well.
As I learn more, my path continues to become clearer, my mind is more under control, my body is stronger, food choices have become mostly medicine for myself and my son. I am more aware of how my actions affect the environment. I’m strengthening my spirituality to becoming my highest self connected to truth and love. This path feels so aligned for me and the greater good.
This practice is beautiful and has come with it’s share of struggles. There is growth in the pain. Having mom guilt is real, and it’s amazing how adorably manipulative kids can be. It’s a daily lesson working on not being overwhelmed or give in to not take care of yourself.
Over the years my own trials and errors of finding what works to help me be my best self and rockstar mom, and through helping clients be their best selves I have uncovered that there are 4 pillars to having control over your health.
Mindset, movement, nutrition, and meditation/spirituality. Within those important pillars, there are different ways of accomplishing each, and it is a very individualized process. This is why most generic programs, don’t work and aren’t sustainable. You need to find what works for you!
The tricky thing is, it can be overwhelming, and take years to figure out without guidance (Trust me, I know)
But I also know that
having daily mental fog isn’t normal
not being happy or fulfilled isn’t normal
saying you don’t have time in an excuse
Feeling like a zombie all the time isn’t normal
& I hate to say it, but always putting your kid first is bound to lead to burnout and failure.
You deserve to feel your best inside and out. Just like I do, and I’m here as a single mom and solo-preneur to tell you, IT. IS. POSSIBLE! and wanna know the awesome thing?! You 1000% have the power to change it!