A little background
As you probably know, throughout the course of the past year, I've become really passionate about holistic nutrition and wellness. Back in January, as part of my 2010 New Year's resolution, I vowed to make real and lasting changes to my lifestyle. I took a hard look at the kind of food I was consuming on a daily basis, and realized that it wasn't providing me with the energy and vitality I was so craving. After some pretty intense soul searching and lots of research (via books, documentaries, etc.), I decided to transition to a primarily plant-based, whole foods diet.
A turning point
I began by experimenting with healthy, home-cooked meals centered around new (to me) and colorful ingredients. I soon discovered a whole world awaited beyond romaine. Curly kale, technicolor rainbow chard, and peppery arugula began making their way into my meal rotation, soon followed by a whole host of delicious vegetables: squash of all kinds, eggplant, cucumber, broccoli, collards, watercress, scallions, leeks, beets, parsnips, radishes, sweet potato, cabbage, and more. Realizing that I could build an endless variety of simple and fulfilling dishes around natural foods - around plants - was a turning point for me, and I never looked back.
On a roll
I started replacing the refined carbs in my diet with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley and millet. Realizing how amazing I felt after just a few days, I was eager to continue down this new and healthy path. Having noticed how heavy and tired I felt after eating animal products, I soon cut out dairy and most meat, a change that also aligned with my growing disgust at the ethical and environmental ramifications inherent in our food system. Legumes, nuts, seeds, and the occasional piece of sustainably caught fish became my new sources of protein. Feeling truly healthy for the first time in years, I was inspired to make even more changes. So around this time, I also kicked my daily coffee to the curb, stopped drinking alcohol (aside from the very occasional glass of wine), and sent my sugar addiction packing - for good. I lost 37 pounds and my energy levels were higher than ever. People began commenting on my "healthy glow", and I felt incredible - physically, at least.
Of course, true wellness isn't just about the food we eat. You can drink all the kale and almond butter smoothies in the world, but if the other elements of your life are out of whack, can you really call yourself healthy? With the newfound clarity that accompanied my dietary changes, I began to see how my other life choices were affecting me, and when I dug beyond the surface, I saw an often stressed-out and anxious person, intensely frustrated by what I perceived to be my unfulfilled creative dreams. Yoga and running helped alleviate the stress and anxiety, but I realized that those were merely symptoms of a deeper yearning for genuine fulfillment. I felt that I was being called in a new direction, but couldn't yet articulate what it looked like. I spent about six months in emotional flux, knowing that my "true North" was out there somewhere, yet at the same time confused by the possibilities and scared to make a major change.
The "Aha" Moment
It was around this time that I first heard about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which, in partnership with Purchase College, SUNY, offers a certification in holistic health counseling. I vividly remember reading those words, "holistic health counselor," and knowing with a strange certainty that that's what I'm supposed to be doing. I wanted to share my newfound passion for wellness with others. It made so much sense. Of course, upon realizing this, I spent several more months in turmoil, agonizing over whether I could really leave behind the safe little life I'd built to pursue a completely new direction. Could I really make such an unconventional career change? What would everyone think? Did I really have it in me to follow my passion?
Turns out, I did. After much consideration (and countless talks with my amazingly supportive husband), I enrolled. (It's a distance learning program, so no, we didn't move to New York!) A year from now, I will be a Certified Holistic Health Counselor. My goal is to begin a private coaching practice helping busy and stressed-out women find balance and vitality through holistic food and lifestyle changes. (Sound familiar?) I also decided, after much consideration, to leave my full-time office job - and the commute - behind. While I was lucky to have wonderful co-workers and satisfying work, I realized that I needed to focus my time and energy in this new direction.
Speaking of which...
I've been contemplating what direction I want to take Tulips & Tea for a little while now. I definitely plan to continue blogging about living a healthy and creative life, and look forward to sharing my new adventure with you. There may be some changes in store for the blog, and possibly a re-launch of some sort as I attempt to merge my blogging more closely with my new career path. I promise to keep you posted!
Thank you so much for your support. You guys are the best!