Welcome to the second month of The Gluten Free Health Challenge. Marisa is sharing a post today as she continues in her search for optimal health. To learn how you can invest in a month of mind*body*spirit coaching with Marisa's coaches, e-mail me at email@example.com, subject line "MBS Coaching."
With Vincent outside of the Mean Vegan production kitchen in Kansas City, MO. Vincent belongs to Stephanie Shelton and Shawn Mock, who are the founders of Mean Vegan Products. We stopped by to buy some of their Jack Tamales (vegan/gluten free) for a road trip with a very dear friend who happens to be vegan and love tamales.
I spent a great deal of my 20s thinking I was removing toxic food. By the time I hit 30, I was pretty certain I had removed, or at least distanced myself from, toxic people. I soon reached a point where I was actually re-training my brain to learn new behaviors to replace toxic patterns.
But along the way, I realized that the foods I had deemed toxic in my 20s (meat, for example), were not necessarily the root of all evil for me personally. And in fact, the very foods that I had been eating to replace the meat were actually causing me an insane amount of problems. My vegetarian diet consisted of a great deal of soy, legumes, dairy, and gluten, all foods I avoid now.
T. Loft: New tea place in South Kansas City, MO. So far, this is the only 100 percent dedicated gluten free business I am aware of in Kansas City. They serve tea, treats, smoothies, juices, and a few snacks. They offer non-dairy milk as well.
When I started realizing this, I slowly made changes. Some big. Some not so big. But overall, I got to where I am today. But what I had not realized until recently, thanks to the help of Eryn, was that while I was in the initial stages of healing, I experienced what I can only call my own "teeter totter syndrome." This happens when I finally make progress on something. It seems that at the same time I am making strides, I completely fall backward in another area that I thought I had under my belt just fine. This shouts out a need for balance, I suppose. And thankfully, my daily yoga practice assists with that. But it's pretty much a given that if I totally rock out with something challenging, I am going to drop the ball in some other area. So I am looking inside of myself now, and will work with Eryn too, in hopes of being able to be more aware of this while it is happening. I am able to forgive and not beat myself up over these teeter totter moments. But ultimately, I would love to be able to not have the teeter totter balanced so heavily on one side, if that makes sense.
Coconut Almond Latte + Strawberries and Chocolate Mousse (avocado and cacao based) + English Breakfast Tea from T. Loft
So back to my original thought. I feel as if during the time that I was feeling challenged by the acceptance part of my health issues - which was also when I was first cutting out certain foods during an elimination diet - I must have somehow had a lapse in judgment? I had previously been close with, and in many cases, enabled, toxic people. I think that maybe I let my walls down with these people during that elimination diet. I just know that my vulnerability somehow was a magnet for the people that I had previously been doing a good job of keeping a safe distance from. I am just recently - again, thanks to Eryn - realizing the connection between my huge shift in lifestyle/diet and my lapse in beginning to empathize too much again with emotional vampires who are not able to give back in our relationships.
The great news is that in the process of all of these positive, healing changes, I have also met so many amazing people. And those people are enough validation for me to really have a true comparison of toxic versus healthy people in my life. I am so grateful for all of the inspiring, wellness-minded people I have met on this journey thus far. The helper part of me wants to badly to use what I have learned to help those friends (and they really are friends, just not friends that are good for me at this time). But it becomes clearer with each passing day that in order to help anyone, I have to help myself first.
All of this trickles down to other behaviors that I am thrilled to say I have made strides with. But the situations still present themselves to me, as well as other people in my world who I know are also struggling to achieve balance and wellness. One of the big struggles I see (which is rampant during the holidays) is the pressure people feel to abandon their convictions, lifestyle, and/or dietary choices. I have watched friends become miserable for a week with digestive issues after one family picnic or outing. And it was not because they fell off the wagon or gave into a craving. It was because someone at the gathering (who allegedly cares about this person) vehemently insisted, to the point of nearly forcing, them to eat a food they are quite possibly allergic or sensitive to. I see and hear about this so often, it truly makes me sick. I get that same pressure. But I don't feel it anymore. I am pretty confident that I will never intentionally compromise my own wellness for someone else's benefit. Be it because a grandmother gets her feelings hurt if you don't just "try her cookies...just a bite won't hurt." Or because other people are ignorant and so unsupportive of your personal challenge that they will even LIE about ingredients to trick people into eating something. I'm mortified by this behavior and yet I hear it so often.
Ultimately, I can't lose sight of or jeopardize my own health in order to assist others.