What is Inspiration to me? Inspiration is seeing something that changes your life. It’s that feeling that is unexplainable that literally sparks a flame in your soul that was never there before. That feeling of desire, of passion and optimism that comes when you least expect it. A moment in time that literally makes you feel weightless and maybe just maybe… even takes your breath away.
This blog post is a dedication to all of you who have inspired me to transform into the best version of me I can be. For anyone who has opened up and shared there stories about there own person battle, struggle, or hardship in there life. These may be on going or something they have overcome, either way thank you. Thank you for having the courage to let your walls down and tell your story.
We all have one. And this is mine…
It all started approximately 3 and a half years ago, at the end of summer 2014. Jordan and I had recently got engaged that past winter and everything was absolutely perfect between us. We were on cloud nine, high as highs can be, newly engaged and loving every minute of it. We got home from our last annual cottage trip and I went to bed exhausted from a long road trip home. I’ll never forget waking up the next morning and literally staring at the ceiling in our bedroom feeling an overwhelming sense of confusion and guilt. I was having so much fun, more than ever before… but inside I felt ashamed for letting myself go for more years than one. I was self-confident, embarrassed and uncomfortable everyday. Unhappy with my body, my weight, my image, and myself.. period. I knew what being in shape felt like, when my body was tight, toned, powerful, and most of all I knew what healthy felt like. This…. this did not feel healthy.
Not long after I got into the trend of Instagram and started an account which led to me scrolling through various fitness and healthy food feeds day in and day out. I’ll never forget the moment I came across an account that connected me to much more than just the beautiful photo infront of me. It connected me to the person behind the photo who was a woman in her twenties, battling an illness that ultimately lead her to a heavy load of various medications and spending most of her days in bed. She started reading and learning about diet and lifestyle, and the way that these factors could help manage her illness. She cut out processed foods from her day to day eating regime and geared herself towards whole foods, mostly plant based. Over the course of approximately two years she was able to manage the symptoms of her illness and eventually came off all the medication originally prescribed to her. This woman whom I’m speaking of is the one and only Deliciously Ella (Ella Woodward now Mills)
That moment in time I was telling you about… the one that takes over your entire body and gravitates you towards seeing the impossible. That was my moment. When I read Ella’s story about how whole foods literally changed her life, cured her day to day battle with an illness that doctors believed had to be heavily medicated. With a sole decision to take a risk, implement that risk, overcome fear and put faith before everything.
Isn’t it true though? When something seemingly impossible in life becomes possible because you simply reached for it. Ella, your amazing and I can’t thank you enough for your courage, your strength and your determination to turn your sickness into a blog/then app/cookbook/another cookbook/a deli/another deli/energy ball line and more! You have changed my life and I thank you for that every single day.
From that very day after reading Ella’s story I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I would only nourish my body with whole foods, ones that had not been genetically modified or processed, just real ingredients that could never harm or disrupt me in anyway. In saying this, I do have to tell you I was never a garbage eater nor junk food guru, and I was never terminally ill, however I did consume many processed ingredients, heavy meats, and sometimes even in double portion amounts for well over 3 years. Because I am a big eater and LOVE food I had a hard time saying “No”. I have always been highly active and love a good sweat whether it be a long outdoor run, high intensity circuit training, a country bike ride, or simply a good power walk on a refreshing day. Being 26 years old however my body wasn’t the same as it used to be (big surprise!) and these daily sweat sessions were not keeping my extra weight off of my body any longer.
I grew up in a well-rounded healthy family of four. My parents were great when it came to keeping us active and always supported our passions for after school activities. Mine being dance. With dance came an insanely amount of time at the studio from the time I was a child right up until high school graduation. I was even accepted at The Quinte School of Ballet when I was just 10 years old, living on my own and learning independence as well as discipline at a very young age. I would spend countless hours in classes throughout the day in front of a mirror perfecting my dance technique and physical stamina. As a ten year old girl I believe my parents did the right thing when the school asked there permission to keep me full time. There answer “no thank you, were going to bring her home”. As upset as I was that I was leaving my dream behind I will never forget the sense of relief from being taken away from a world of critiquing every move you made, including the food you ate and the hierarchy of having to be “perfect”.
Now fast forward to after graduating high school and trying to figure out what I wanted to do to with the rest of my life… I honestly had no idea. I wasn’t your typical “go-to university straight A student”, however I always felt confident in myself for whatever reason. I would set goals on a day to day basis and without a doubt I would have no issue completing them 100%. To this day I am the same way. And I take pride in that. Being able to set an intention for myself whether big or small and going after it, full force, giving it my all no matter what.
When I was 23 years old something miraculous happened to me. I had been going to school in Toronto for Interior Decorating and working at our family furniture store as well. It was a regular Monday in September close to closing hours when a young (charming) man came flying in the door wondering if we had a certain piece of furniture for his newly bought home. I came into contact with him about half way through his tour of our store and immediately felt a sense of lightness come upon me. How could it even be possible that I feel so comfortable with this person who I’ve known for only a few moments?… As we continued on with small talk about the quality furniture we sell and what it was he needed for his first home I became more and more curious as to why I hadn’t felt like this before to complete strangers? It was a feeling I really can’t explain, but our connection was real and I wasn’t about to lose the chance of seeing him again. From that very moment I knew Jordan was a special guy and he touched my heart from the very first minute we met. His wit, intelligence, and caring soul are the 3 main characteristics he exudes and from day 1 he has never stopped making me laugh, teaching me all he knows, and wearing his heart on his sleeve. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t remind me how loved I am. We have a bond that crazily gets stronger and stronger with each passing day. Jordan, thank you for the opportunities you have given me, for the love you provide me and for the best friend you are to me. I love you.
So after travelling the world, dating for just under 5 years, living together for just under 4, he proposed to me…. :):):) on my birthday!!! It was one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I couldn’t wait to start this new journey with him ready to conquer life one day at a time with him by my side.
Now going back to that morning I awoke and set an intention to begin an entire new healthy path of life for myself. Well, long story short Jordan did too. Together we slowly began eating much cleaner meals morning, noon and night. The more months that passed the more educated I became on what “clean meals” really were and by the time our wedding day came just under 2 years later thats really all I knew.
This is the part of my story that brings me to tears. The part where I break and the part where my unstoppable soul hit a brick wall. It’s the part of my story I was going to leave out but then what’s the point of all this? To tell you I’ve read countless inspiring stories online that inspired me so much more than words can say. The point is… without those stories, without those people making me feel like I wasn’t alone, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have had this blog, this space that I call home. And I wouldn’t have had this passion to create simple, delicious, feel-good meals for each and every one of you. So without further ado, I will tell you that for approximately 2 years I had an eating disorder that caused me to lose 22 pounds within a year.
For those of you who know me I was never a large person. At my heaviest I weighed in and around 130 pounds for those 3 years I mentioned earlier. I never expected to set the bar as high as I did, literally obsessing over everything I ate, counting calories like you wouldn’t believe and working out 6 sometimes 7 times a week.
I stopped eating red meat and anything that associated with any kind of fat, including healthy fats like avocado’s, seed butters, oils, breads, eggs, even lean meats. I would maybe only eat a piece of fish a week… Six months prior to the wedding I became brutally obsessed with feeling skinnier and skinnier as the months progressed not realizing the heavy stress I was putting my body through each and everyday. I would skip meals, or substitute a healthy smoothie for dinner if I thought I over-ate that day. I would give myself grief if I didn’t feel like working out and if I did decide to skip a day I would have to make up for it the next. I was digging myself a hole deeper and deeper and the worst part is I wasn’t seeing any of it. I actually didn’t realize just how thin I was. I thought my body was strong because I could run 6 miles like a cheetah. The only thing I was seeing was the person staring back at me in the mirror and she wasn’t the person I knew any longer. She was brittle and broken, exhausted and emotionally depressed. This needed to stop, before things got really ugly.
I had to stop being afraid of not being perfect. I had to start letting go of the “fake world” on the internet and social media platforms and just be me. I had to start feeling comfortable with myself, especially on those days when I was alone. Most importantly I had to begin examining who I was on the inside rather than about what I saw on the outside.
Changing my life was never an easy decision to make. Life changes are never easy. They require you to literally turn around and walk slowly into the unknown, hoping that whatever your going through, will only get better.
It was the morning of our wedding and I was feeling really good. I was somewhat getting back on track with myself and knew that after today all of the mental preparation would come to an end and I would soon be able to relax mentally and physically. I remember waking up the next day feeling like I could breath again, like the demons inside of my brain that were trapped for so long somehow found there way out, never to return.
Jordan and I had an amazing honeymoon filled with good healthy food, day and night. I came home feeling rejuvenated and alive. I had gained some weight back and wanted to maintain that healthy number knowing what it felt like to be any less. So, with the help of my husband, my friends, my family and my naturopath I slowly within the next 6 months became aware of my illness and how it had affected my body and my life. I began to meditate… A LOT. I would do a combination of breathing exercises, yoga and stretching all at home rotating throughout the week. I started meal planning and getting excited with each day that passed knowing I was going to fill my tummy with good nutritious wholesome food that I would feel good about.
Isn’t it crazy how much we can grow and change in such little time? Sometimes without realizing that we’re not who we were a year ago, or even yesterday. What I wanted yesterday, may not be what I desire today. However, there are moments in life where you stop and feel your entire self being pushed down a tunnel at 100 miles per hour; these moments are life changing, for the better or worse. When your brain is fogged and your overloaded with thoughts just remember you can either continue down the path you’re running down or stop and take a completely different direction; it is a choice.
So sitting here in April 2017, I am proud to say that it has been a full year of transitioning into “healthy Natalie”. Finally finding my balance and living the healthiest life possible with my husband and my best friend. Making the discovery that being healthy isn’t just about eating right, its about being emotionally and mentally happy about yourself and who you are. Its about surrounding yourself with people who understand you, who make you feel beautiful and of course who inspire you.
I still to this day hear people say that they think I am too thin or comment about what I am eating when I am at the table. “Oh that’s Natalie food” or “Natalie won’t eat that..” And for the longest time ever I took it to heart. I was so self conscious when someone would ask me why I pack my breakfast in a mason jar (overnight oats) or question why I drink something with weird things floating in it (kombucha). People you would least expect would make sarcastic comments and I wasn’t strong enough to handle them for the longest time.
Today, I stand tall and proud. I recognize that I have gone through a major transformation and even though I have had my ups and downs I know that this journey has changed my life for the better. I can honestly say I have found balance in food more than ever before. I no longer have crazy rules or restrictions for my myself with food or exercise. I listen to my body and give it what it needs on that given day never depriving myself from things that my body is craving. I do not eat something just because someone tells me to. I follow my own path and I do what my body needs because I have realized that our bodies are UNIQUE. No one is the same and we all run differently.
Listen to your body and you will find peace, you will find happiness and you will find comfort.