Today I wanted to start unpacking the beginning of our journey, what lead us to this lifestyle, what were the biggest turning points?
Firstly, I am eternally grateful of 20 year old me, for making at least one of the choices I did. In the beginning, I felt a little like I was sacrificing the ‘uni lifestyle’ but I most certainly don’t feel like I missed out anymore, and I am happy I made those healthy habits back then, because now, it is very easy to live this healthy lifestyle. By 20, I stopped spending all my earnings on drinking and partying when I started consciously thinking about my health and wellness. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t depressed either. I was just an average uni student with not a lot of direction. No passion for anything. I didn’t love my course. I wasn’t looking for drive or a hobby, I was just open to learning.
In 2011, I was babysitting for a beautiful, healthy family and the mum started talking to me about organic food and casually discussing her reasons for feeding her family organics. I must have shown some interest and so she shared a book with me that changed my life: Changing Habits, Changing Lives, by Cyndi O’Meara. I hadn’t enjoyed reading since I was in primary school, but I literally could not put this book down. The book even states not to read it all at once, it says to take small steps and read a chapter a week and make small changes. There was no holding back, I was ready to leap into this, so I read the entire thing in a couple of days. It opened my eyes to so many things that I had never thought about or considered, ever.
Being uni students, we had very little income, however, health quickly became our number one priority and we started to make changes to our spending so that we could afford organic produce. This meant our diet became pretty much void of any animal products as organic meat and dairy was considerably more expensive than it’s conventional counterparts. I didn’t know many vegetarians, had never even heard the term vegan, but I started learning and following veggie groups online to get some healthy vegetarian meal inspiration. I joined Cyndi O’Meara’s 21 Day Program and requested the changes to make the program vegetarian. I sought naturopathic and nutritionist advice to ensure my diet was still well balanced, and found that I was healthier than I had ever been in my life. After all, I was replacing cheap, fast food for fresh organic fruit and vegetables. It was a no brainer, but I wanted to make sure my diet wasn’t void of any essential nutrients.
As the book suggests, I started making small changes one week at a time. It was a really easy transition, we slowly used up what we had in the pantry, and instead of restocking when we ran out, we simply researched a healthier, organic version. Some swaps were simple; nuts, seeds, legumes, grains we simply swapped for the organic variety to avoid the chemicals, pesticides and GMOs that are so detrimental to our health. For pre packaged foods we started using recipes to create our own snacks from high-quality, organic ingredients, or simply just switching to a piece of fruit or veggie sticks and a homemade dip. The flavour of organic fruit & veg was so different to the out-of-season, conventional produce we were previously consuming from the supermarket. This made it such an easy switch. I was more than happy to give up a muesli bar or packet of chips for a piece of juicy, organic fruit! Soon enough our pantry was completely transformed and our changes became healthy habits for life! I look back at the food I was consuming then and wonder how I got by, how was I functioning on Frankenstein foods? I feel much more energised and happy eating this way than I did 10 years ago, that is for sure!