Even though I have always been an exercise junkie and athlete, I wasn’t always well. In fact, about 12 years ago, I felt pretty far from it! And, even though I seemed to have tried everything to get my life back on track, nothing -- not even medication, a regular yoga practice, running 4-5x per week -- seemed to help.
The thing is, only about 6 short months later, I was able to make some small shifts to my daily habits that shifted EVERYTHING. Here is a little bit on my journey from barely having the energy to leave my apartment to living a healthy, happy life.
In law school, I could barely function. I remember getting to a point where I was so depressed and anxious that I couldn’t manage to leave my apartment. I canceled plans with friends. I stopped going to class. I cried nonstop about nothing. I couldn’t think clearly or even manage to read a book. Really, my friends and family would likely tell you: it is a miracle I got through law school!
Now, I have to admit, that part of my life felt pretty dark, dramatic, and extreme…maybe you can relate...maybe not...
BUT, in retrospect, the rest of my “symptoms” at the time seem to be common for a lot of people: my stomach constantly hurt and looked bloated. I was constipated, extremely tired, and suffered from migraines. My acne was out of control. I was anxious and stressed about just about everything.
I was diagnosed with IBS, chronic fatigue, allergies, some sort of rectal disfunction that I can't remember the name of (but, years later, my mom and I laughed about whatever it was for hours because it basically translated to "tight-ass")...I was told that my cognitive function was just lower than that of a typical graduate student and more. None of these diagnosis or the medications that were supposed to help relieves my symptoms seemed to help. Most actually made things WORSE.
In the summer of 2008, I went to my university health center to switch my birth control, yet again, in hopes that it would be the magic fix to all of my problems.
It wasn’t (of course). But, my nurse’s suggestion that I go gluten-free was the start to a series of shifts that ultimately changed my life. After a few days sans gluten, I felt a little better. A few weeks later, feeling so much better that I was off all medications at that point, I had not only cut out gluten but also refined sugars and dairy.
I was already practicing yoga regularly and had graduated from law school. Even though things were starting to come together (my acne was clearing up, my digestion was returning to normal, I had more energy and focus), I was constantly worried that they would return to how they had been for years. I mean, years of “symptoms” just seemed to vanish. Surely they would come back just as easily, no?
Deciding that I needed to reprogram my thinking but out of cash and untrusting of most doctors, I ended up trying what I thought at the time was the last resort: seeing a student cognitive behavioral therapist through my university health center (thankfully, I was eligible as I was still finishing graduate school at the time). Well, my parents and I had spent god knows how much money on doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with me and this $10-session student therapist who couldn't even prescribe medication ended up providing the missing pieces of my wellness puzzle!
One day my student therapist recommended I try to incorporate breathing exercises into my daily routine and whenever I started to have thoughts that weren’t serving me -- not during my yoga practice but separately, just whenever I needed them.
This was my AHAH! moment. I had all of these tools in my toolkit already -- YOGA, MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS PRACTICES, HEALTHY EATING, I just wasn’t using them in a mindful, consistent, and integrated way.
After about 6 months of eating mindfully, meditating daily, moving my body regularly, practicing the mindfulness exercises I had learned from my student cognitive behavioral therapist, and studying my ass off, I took the NY Bar Examination to become a lawyer. I passed on the first try, even though the pass rate was only 37% when I took the test. Me, the girl whose brain felt too foggy to read the legal text books and could barely make it to class, passed the NY Bar Examination on the first try!
I ended up becoming a lawyer, running for judge, becoming an elected judge, continuing to teaching yoga and wellness. I married an amazing man who stood by me throughout my crazy wellness journey; we now have two amazing kids. And, somehow, most of the time, my skin is glowing, and I have the energy to juggle all of these things joyfully!
Eventually, I realized what tools and simple shifts in my daily habits were responsible for shifting my life. So, I took them and created a toolkit for myself, comprised of habits to incorporate into my busy, life in a regular manageable way and of things to keep in my back pocket in case I ever started to feel like my wellness was moving in the wrong direction again.
Over the years, I have shared these tools with others in various ways, and I am so excited to, in just a few short weeks, be able to share them through an online format through The Bodhi Blueprint! Stay tuned…