If you've followed my blog, you may be familiar with my struggles with (still) undiagnosed illness, with diagnosed anxiety and (if you follow me on Facebook) my weight loss and journey to health. What I've learned these last twelve months is surprising, both regarding how I view my own health, and how this journey has impacted my creativity and productivity.
I'm about to get real with you. I wont fill this post with photos and quotes, I wont attempt to inspire or empower. I just want to talk to you about this process, and what it's meant to me. I want to share with you how it's been difficult, mentally all-encompassing, that it has impacted my creativity on real and tangible levels, both in positive and negative ways.
So let's get right to it, shall we?
Last September I had enough. I was watching a close friend succumb to illness. I myself was plagued with problems, and inundated with doctors and medical bills. The tests were numerous, tiresome and ultimately unhelpful. I was ready to take my life back. I began by changing my diet. I removed all grains, ate fresh whenever possible, avoided high carb ingredients and focused on clean, lean protein and green vegetables. It was a good change and not nearly as difficult to adjust to as anticipated. I fell into an easy routine with my meals and quickly saw real results. These initial results, the ticking down of the numbers on the scale, were invigorating and motivational and pushed me onward. In these twelve months, as a direct result of these changes, I've managed to lose 100lbs and end the use of medication to maintain my blood pressure.
Yay! Right? This is good. This is what you hope to experience. These are the stories that spur people towards committing real change themselves, and that's a truly positive thing. But the impact this process has had on my creativity and productivity has been, to say the least, odd and unexpected.
Initially, I was motivated entirely and dedicated not only towards improving my health, but expanding my own creative skill set and self-expression. I started to journal after a long hiatus which has, to this day, helped in innumerable ways and is the one change I encourage others to embrace, if no other change is ever made. And this energy, positivity and momentum carried me through the first quarter of 2016. I was on a roll!
And then I hit a wall. My weight loss slowed considerably, I was still plagued by fatigue and body aches. My body was changing. I weighed less, yes, but was less pleased with the results than anticipated, as my 40 year old body refused to adjust to the loss the way a 20 year old body would have. And meals became an obsession. I was spending more time thinking about what I'm eating, what I should be eating, what I will eat, than I spent doing anything else.... even creating. Summer marked a difficult transition for me, especially as I began to recognize changes in the ways others approached me or treated me. While my self-confidence grew the previous months, I also began to notice a shadow in my thoughts.
And still I created. Or tried to. Some days, forced myself to. These were the most difficult days... when I found myself so wrapped up in my journey to health that I forgot a very fundamental part of staying healthy.... my art. I somehow forgot how empowering it is to create, how healing to the soul. While I struggled to heal my body... and I was healing it.... I was neglecting my soul.
This is the message I want to share with you today. That the journey to health is a gigantic undertaking, and it requires all of the resources at your disposal. I was so focused on only one path to wellness that I failed to notice how the neglect of other paths was actually sabotaging my journey! The saying "We are our own worst enemy" is true, and it was only a recent realization that made me understand the damage I was doing to my progress.
I was so focused on the rigidity of my new life, that I forgot to enjoy the freedom of art. In fact, tried to force the rigidity of meal plans and weigh-ins into my art. An if you're an artist, you know how fervently creativity will rebel against a regime!
And now, as I enter the (most beloved) fall season, I feel renewed. This realization has filled me with new purpose and new energy when I thought I'd been left bare of it. I have an amazing opportunity to teach overseas this September, and my fingers just itch... they itch to create. My heart itches to create and teach and share. I can't wait for the days to come!
If you are on a similar journey, or plan to begin one, I encourage you to embrace all your resources. To remember that art is as much a healer to body and soul as a good diet or exercise or fresh air. That, when results aren't what you expect, disappointing at times even, there is still a fire burning and in it....perfect wellness.
I hope you all stay well.
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