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How To Embrace The Experience of an Imperfect Life

How to Embrace the Experience of an Imperfect Life

I’m not going to lie. I’m a recovering perfectionist, which is slightly hilarious because my life is so imperfect.

Here’s the simple facts:

  • I’m an average wife and mother of two children.
  • My weight has been a constant struggle.
  • Saying that I hate exercise is an understatement.
  • I’ve got some completely avoidable health conditions.
  • I have multiple food addictions.

Acknowledging my shortcomings, I’m no longer focusing on trying to create a perfect life out of something similar to a reality show.

I’m not going to be scared of failure, success, and disappointing others anymore. Rather, I’m going to embrace the experience of my life while changing some not so great habits that I’ve picked up over the years.

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Free food does taste better.

As a young child, it was hard to embrace the experience of getting up early to stand in line at the food pantry. But when President Reagan releases 560-million pounds of processed cheese to needy families across the country, you get up to stand in line.

If it weren’t for this experience, I might not know the glory that came from owning a 5-pound block of processed, government cheese. (Ahhh…those 500 calorie, 19 gram of fat, grilled cheese sandwiches were to die for!)

Embrace the Experience: Free Food
Me and my sisters at my mom and step-dad’s wedding. Yep, I’m the one with the closed eyes and who-ha hanging out. At least, I don’t look like I’m picking my nose like my little sister!

Although its been years, I’ll never forget the experience of eating government cheese. After all, I’m pretty sure I still have the remnants of that cheese on my thighs. Thanks, President Reagan! 🙄

Chronic baby fat is a real condition, right?

Needless to say, I didn’t grow up eating what we call ‘healthy’ today. We ate what my parents could afford and what the churches and food pantries could give us. So, when people say “I can’t afford to eat healthy,” I understand their perspective.

Don’t get me wrong, I never went hungry. While my step-dad worked his fingers to the bone making minimum wage, my mom became an expert at navigating food pantries and making meals stretch. I was always amazed at how she could feed all of us on one box of Hamburger Helper, a cube of beef bouillon, a few egg noodles, and a can of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that my parents never had a conversation about buying all organic or the nutrients in our food. There were bigger ‘fish’ to fry and we all had full bellies. Albeit, my belly may have been a bit more round than the other kids (on account of the baby fat.)

Embrace the Experience: A Chubby Child
Clearly, my mom didn’t know the trick of taking a slimming photo of me. Judging by this picture, I think it’s safe to say Hamburger Helper did me NO favors!

Acknowledging your bad habits — and changing them

I still can’t believe that someone would take comfort in eating Vienna sausages, Hamburger Helper, and canned ravioli. But, I did. That’s what I knew.

Things started to slowly change as I had my own family.

As a newly married couple, my husband and I enjoyed eating out a few nights a week. We didn’t go to bars or have expensive hobbies. Our entertainment was eating dinner at local restaurants. On the nights we didn’t eat out, I took pride in cooking at home. There was nothing better than salisbury steak night. You know, with the creamy mashed potatoes, buttery corn, and Pillsbury biscuits. We thought we were eating ‘good!’

Kids are a game changer.

It wasn’t until my daughter was a toddler that I stared to learn more about food and it’s affect on the body. You see, my little girl started having all these seemingly unrelated symptoms. The doctors thought we were over-protective, first-time parents.

A few years and several doctors later, we started to feel defeated. We almost resigned ourselves to the fact this could be a figment of our imaginations. Then, we got the results from the latest blood work.

Embrace the Experience: Taking Responsibility
My daughter with Belle at Disney World. I don’t like looking at photos of her at this age. At the time, I didn’t realize how ill she actually looked.

Without your health, you have nothing.

Our little girl was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

When your child has a chronic disease, one of your top priorities is to become an expert in the disease, in hopes of curing them. I read all the expert’s books in the field. I participated in chat rooms, Facebook groups, and various support groups. Everyone had an opinion about how she developed the disease and/or how to treat it. I made myself — and everyone around me — crazy.

One of the many theories that stuck with me over the years was that my daughter’s diet ultimately caused her body not to have the nutrient rich environment it needed to fight off this disease. Yeah, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Although, I’ll never know if my daughter’s autoimmune disease could have been prevented. I do know that it makes sense to eat better and maintain an active lifestyle. Our bodies are capable of miracles, if given the proper environment to thrive.

Embrace the experience of quitting and starting over.

While all this was happening at home, I also had the perfect storm brewing at work.

You see, I spent the majority of my career (15+ years) in healthcare fundraising. Over the years, I raised money for cancer treatment facilities, expansions of specialty clinics to help chronically-ill patients, the latest and greatest imaging equipment in hopes of catching cancer sooner, and so on.

I spent my days meeting new people. I listened to countless stories about health struggles and loved ones lost after long battles with chronic diseases. It was very rewarding, yet brutal in many ways.

In my experience, I believe these things are the absolute truth:

  • Most health problems are a result of what we eat. In fact, the traditional ‘western diet’ is killing us.
  • Food is addictive — especially sugar and Diet Coke  🙁
  • Healthcare is ridiculously expensive.
  • Pills aren’t always the answer.
  • The majority of us would benefit greatly from simply moving more— even if it’s just walking.

I believe whole-heartedly that each one of us can have a drastic impact on our own health, simply by being mindful about what we eat and moving more.

Easier said than done, right?

I get it; I’m fighting the same battle right now too. Just think about the impact we can have in our own lives if we make even slight changes — even on the world!

Embrace the experience of making ride or die decisions.

Too many people talk but never DO anything. So, I decided to take the lessons that I’ve learned and help other people – while helping myself.

Time to put up or shut up, as they say. So, I quit my day job. It wasn’t your average job either. It was one of those six-figure kind of jobs. Trust me, there’s no trust fund or rich relative to fall back on.

Ride or die as they say, right?!?!

Most people think I’ve gone crazy. Who just quits their job to start a blog?

Frankly, I don’t want to raise another much needed dollar for a cancer center to be built. And, I don’t want another fundraising team to have to do it either. I would love for us all to take back our lives and put an end to the chronic disease epidemic.  

My goal is to have an impact in people’s lives before they get diagnosed with a chronic disease. I want to inspire others to eat a little better every day, understanding that we’re never going to be perfect. I want to build a community of real people who provide encouragement to each other on our own journeys. Because, I can tell you that I’m not perfect. In fact, I’ve got a VERY imperfect life. I’m simply just trying to get a little better every day.

In a nutshell, that’s how Vaguely Vegan was created. I hope that you’ll join me in this journey. Together, we can make a difference.

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