I was 24 years old in this photo...
...and drinking 4 liters of diet soda.
I said that right.
4 liters a day.
And the irony?
I was working as the Corporate Wellness Education Coordinator for a company of 5000 employees and their families.
My role? Educating and supporting employees towards a healthy lifestyle.
I had recovered so much from my eating disorder by that time but this was clearly another addiction I needed to address.
In my job I spent a lot of time reading research articles on various health issues. One day, I read a research study suggesting aspartame not only as a carcinogenic neurotoxin but also that aspartame mimics the same symptoms as Multiple Sclerosis. It went on to share tons of side effects linked to aspartame consumption including headaches and migraines, nausea and stomach aches, bloating, rashes, depression, insomnia, vision problems, numbness and even loss of taste and memory loss.
It stopped me in my tracks.
I remember sitting back in my chair. Taking a few deep breaths. Wondering what to do with what I just read.
Whether this was true or not, I already knew deep inside that I needed something this profound to stop me from making this mindless decision every single day - I was so far down the rabbit hole, I didn’t know how to turn this addiction around.
And I honestly didn’t have any real reason to change anything. I loved diet soda and had my head in the sand about all the chemicals I was putting into my body. Besides...it was "working" for me...I was "using" it. I was using it for stress relief. For relaxation. For a mid-morning and mid-afternoon pick-me-up. To satisfy cravings. I was using it to transition from one to-do to the next. It was a part of my entire life.
And then this article.
It somehow jolted me into consciousness. What the *&@# was I doing to my health all these years?
That day, I made a decision to quit diet soda for 30 days. I said I could always go back if I wanted to after 30 days, but I needed to do this. I had been living this 4 liter/day lifestyle for over 5 years. I had to wake upfrom allowing this daily mindless habit to take the driver's seat of my life and potentially lead me down a very dark future in my health.
So when I decided to quit cold turkey for 30 days, I created a non-negotiable agreement with myself - 'I am not drinking diet soda for 30 days.' - and I asked a couple friends and my husband to hold me accountable.
So often in my life, I half-ass decisions. I have good intentions and I say I’m going to do things...but I don’t. I don’t put enough clarity or action or accountability behind them and then the intention falls flat. It's actually a part of myself I'm actively working on this year.
But the times I have been decisive and clear in my life, things changed massively for the better.
My eating disorder is another very good example. I was tired of this daily obsession with food and exercise and body. I was 87 pounds and extremely unhealthy. I wanted FREEDOM in mind and body and spirit from something that had overtaken the quality of my life. I made the decision to let go of the control and surrender to heal.
It was a messy (and ultimately beautiful) road to recovery and it did not happen overnight, but because I had made the decision to overcome my eating disorder and seek support and accountability, I can still look back and be amazed at all the doors, opportunities, people, mentors and guidance that opened up to me again and again and again to support my decision towards healing…
Same is true for my diet soda addiction.
Would you believe that 30 days off diet soda and I never went back? It’s been over 18 years.
It doesn’t mean I haven't taken up mindless behaviors with other things over the years...especially when life feels heavy and overwhelming. Namely kombucha. Chocolate. Salty chips. Numbing out over Netflix shows. Wordscapes. Clips from The Late Show. Mindless scrolling for some kind of dopamine hit. And basically "checking out" of my life.
So I want to share two ways that have helped me "check back in" to my life and "Reset" my mindless behaviors over the years because they may help you too.
First, ask the question:
What are the mindless behaviors that I no longer wish to tolerate in my life?
...diet soda addiction like me or excessive alcohol or mindless snacking and eating
...the over-the-top full schedule that has you skipping meals, eating junk and leaving you no time to recharge your spirit
...constant mental chatter that leaves your mind overwhelmed and constantly tired and in a fog
...late nights that have you crawling out of bed with no energy for the next day
...the way you talk to yourself, obsess about food/your body/your weight
...irritability, impatience and moodiness with your kids
...being victim to your circumstance
Check in with yourself for a moment and ask this question and then listen in.
Because unless you take a moment to pause and listen to the answer, whatever you're experiencing is going to keep weighing you down.
After I answer this question, I create a clear action step to help course-correct the mindless behavior and "check back into" my life.
This is why we created our seasonal 14-day Reset and it's why I love it so much.
It's an action step.
It allows you to carve out intentional time to lighten up an get back to those nourishing practices - with food, with self care and mindfulness - that bring attention to the parts of your life that aren't serving you, so you can RESET.
Having guided thousands of women through this Reset program we can say without a doubt, this program is a beautiful way to become more mindful around behaviors that are weighing you down. Through hundreds of testimonials, we witness how it's changing lives, impacting families, nourishing hearts, minds and bodies for the better. Here's what Stephanie had to say:
"This Reset gave me permission and guidance to focus on what matters. It taught me to prioritize nourishing myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually so that I can then offer that nourishing to others in my life. The meal plans were thorough, easy to follow, and very tasty! The daily emails and journal components were just what I needed to de-clutter and nourish my inner life. Overall, I feel much more grounded and joyful following this program." Stephanie A.
So...as we continue this spring blog series called Lighten Up, we invite you to ask yourself, what's one mindless behavior that is weighing you down that you no longer wish to tolerate? AND what's one action step to help course-correct the mindless behavior that's weighing you down and "check back in" to your life?
We'd love to hear from you.
And if you want a guided plan to help you reset in body, mind and spirit the 14-Day Reset registration doors are open. We begin April 28 and we accept Health Savings Account Credit Cards!