Why being healthy really matters (Part 2)

You owe it to yourself to live the life you want. No one else can give you your dream life. Want to trek with camels in the Gobi Desert? Study stem cells in outer space? Or do you want to look in the mirror and love yourself?

Ever wanted to be two places at once? I'm in the north and south hemisphere."Mitado del Mundo," Ecuador.

Here’s a glimpse into my teenage years: I hated my reflection. I hid behind eyeliner even though I had to reapply it every two hours. I hid behind long hair even though I hated styling it. I’ve starved myself and thrown up pretzels because of the overwhelming guilt and terror of gaining weight. I refused to wear the glasses I needed because I didn’t want to see myself in earnest clarity.

I’m not alone—in a survey conducted by Psychology Today in 2017, over half of women reported dissatisfaction with their body image, 89 percent of which wanted to lose weight. Of that group, 15 percent would sacrifice more than five years of their lives to be their ideal weight. Twenty-four percent of those women would give up more than three years.

That isn’t my reality anymore but I still have bad days. Self-love is a lifetime journey, and for me, it started with making healthy choices.

THE FIRST STEP WAS RUNNING. I resented that I couldn’t sprint more than 400 meters without wheezing—I hate limitations more than anything. Once I figured out it was exercise-induced asthma, I got an inhaler and started training. 


I finished my first 5K in 2013, glowing with pride. The "Travis Manion Hero Run," Saginaw, MI.

The second step was going vegan. Like many people, I love animals. But I was a hypocrite.
If I can’t ethically do something myself, then I shouldn’t ask someone else to do it for me. I will never slaughter a cow. I can’t bear seeing chickens crowded in filthy pens, kept alive only to serve my taste buds. I couldn’t look myself in the eye, say “I love animals,” and be an authentic person unless I gave up animal products. 

Third was fine-tuning my diet. You can be vegan and still eat junk food. (Potato chips and Oreos are totally vegan.) I started transitioning to a whole-foods, plant-based diet, meaning minimally processed foods. Think fruits and vegetables, whole grain pasta, no added sugar or oil. I’m not 100 percent where I could be, but I feel energized, clean, and whole. 

Being vegan opened my mind to trying new foods. This is my very first raw jackfruit, and I found it at Meijer!

And here’s where I’m at now—strength training (i.e., CrossFit)! I never wanted to lift weights, but I want to be strong. I dislike reaching my body’s limit before I reach my goal. Low-key, it bothers me that I can’t do a pull-up. I want my arms to be more than limp noodles. I want my body to match my mind’s expectations. 

This time it’s not like high school. I want a body for me—to function properly so I can experience all I desire in life. Looking good is a bonus, but I don’t obsess about it anymore. 

BEING HEALTHY MATTERS because your mind and body will always be with you; they’re the only things we’ll ever truly own. 

Appreciate what your body can do now. I can run a 5K. I can trek long hikes. I can weightlift. Don’t take these wins for granted. 

Imagine all the things you want to do but can’t. Think about activities you’ve seen other people do but you shook your head and said, “That’s not for me. I could never do something like that.” I want to rock-climb. I want to do a triathlon. I want to bike across Japan. Don’t let fear immobilize you.


I've always wanted to use a pickaxe. Hali (left) and I on Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier.

YOU ARE IN CHARGE of your destiny. Do whatever you can to be who you want to be. Who do I want to be? 

I want to be an avid outdoorswoman, a brilliant writer, a philosophical thinker. I want to be a well-traveled student of the world—dancing, exploring, and tasting. A real renaissance woman. I want to be a devoted and supportive wife, active and trustworthy mother, fun and responsible sister, silly and engaged aunt, vibrant and warm grandmother. 

Who do you want to be?

This is part 2 of "Why being healthy really matters." Click here for part 1. 

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