A really big decision (and the soul searching behind it)

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.

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.

n 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.

he "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?

aying yes

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.

peaking 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!

hank you so much for your support.  You guys are the best!  


Penelope Trunk said...

The story of your transformation is inspiring. I have been off wheat before, and then I miss bread and go back on. And there's no question that I feel better not eating wheat. I totally buy into what you are saying.

Also, something that inspires me to keep trying, even when I'm not living the perfectly healthy life I want: There's great research about how if you change one thing in your life to be more conscious, you naturally change other stuff to be more conscious without even trying. I can see that happening in your post. I like that. Makes me want to keep going in my own healthy journey.


lynette said...

Congratulations for taking a huge and obviously important step in on your journey!
I just wanted to tell you that my good friend is taking this same course and she loves it!
Can't wait to see where this takes you and Tulips and Tea!
Isn't getting our of your own way so exciting?
Suerte xo

Anonymous said...

This is amazing, Analiese! I had an inkling that this might be the direction you would head in someday. I've known about IIN for a while and have been curious about their program. It really sounds like a perfect fit for you, and that you are embarking on an exciting journey!

I'm definitely in a "questioning" phase myself, confused about my direction and how to make sense out of my diverse interests. I love hearing about your lightbulb moment.

Best of luck to you on your new endeavors!

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

Congratulations!! How exciting :)

Rachel @ SuburbanYogini said...

Amazing stuff - and hurrah for you for following your true passion - I was only blogging about that earlier today!

Good luck with it, I cannot wait to read about your journey :)

Genki said...

I think this is so wonderful. Good luck with your new study and career. I can't wait to see where you take the blog!

GlendaM said...

Congratulations! I know a few people who have completed the program and really enjoyed it. All the best in your journey!

Meg said...

Wow, this is amazing! I'm so inspired by your strength to make such big changes in your own life... i know it's not an easy task. I'm sure you'll do an amazing job with your course & as a holistic health counselor, and i can't wait to hear how you start helping other women, beyond the readers of your blog who (i'm sure) are all as inspired by you as i am :)
xo meg

Andrea said...

I think you know by now that you inspire me, even though we lost touch after around sophomore year of college. Finding your blog and reading about the changes you've made to become happier and healthier has inspired ME to do so (even on a small scale)...moreso, it makes me realize that you CAN make a lifestyle change. I'm currently going through an emotional flux myself and want nothing more than to be happy with my decisions, but I still don't know what will make me happy (which is why I haven't applied to grad school yet)...so kudos to you for doing what you know is right.

shelly said...

our stories are so similar. i received my box of materials today and i felt such a sense of relief when i opened it. i KNOW this is what i am supposed to be doing also. it's nice to move out of the state of turmoil and on to the path i am sure i am supposed to be on :) glad we are on that path together!

Lakshmi said...

Sounds wonderful! An A-Ha moment indeed... Good Luck!!!


annelise said...

Wow, this is exciting! It's such a wonderful feeling to find the thing that you just know is right to do.

Earlier this year, I quit my full-time job and became a full-time student again, doing a degree of Writing and Editing. I had so many moments of sitting in lectures and thinking This is exactly where I'm supposed to be. It was the best decision I've ever made.

Good luck with it all, I can't wait to hear how you get on!

Elizabeth said...

Congratulations! I would love to have the courage to make a decision like that.

Analiese said...

Thanks, all, for your amazing support! I appreciate all of the great feedback and look forward to sharing my new journey with you.

Anonymous said...

So exciting & inspiring! I can't wait to read more. I wholeheartedly agree that just nutrition alone will not make a person healthy.

Congratulations on such a big decision and good luck!


Jenn from Much to My Delight said...

Just stumbled on your blog and have to wholeheartedly endorse any decision to take a leap and follow your joy and passion. A friend of mine actually graduated from there last year. She loved the program, and like you, is very much a believer in fueling your body with proper nutrition and wellness. Good luck in your new career path!

Carolyn said...

CONGRATS!!! This is so exciting and so perfect. I can't wait to hear more about this journey.

stephanie alaine said...

holy moly what a well articulated & inspiring post! you're going to see that as you say "yes" to the life you desire, the entire universe begins to say "yes" back to you! what a delightful journey you've been on---and that being said, a toast to you! cheers, sweet friend!

Wyokemia said...

Thanks so much for sharing your journey. It's inspiring to hear how different people have made life transitions. Similar to you, within the last couple of years I've transitioned to a mostly non-meat diet. I felt great after making this transition, and I absolutely love fresh, home-prepared food - nothing beats it! I've also in the last year transitioned professionally out of full-time work and into other independent professional ventures. It really is empowering, and I have not looked back! Again, thanks for sharing - I look forward to learning more from you and about you on your blog!

TheAnalyst said...

Congrats! Sounds ideal for you. I hope you enjoy the program!

Rebecca said...

What an inspiring story. Your decision to study is commendable. We all have so much on our plates, we tend to "just say no" to the passions we really want to achieve. Best of luck.

robyn michelle-lee @ this is life. said...

SO exciting! SO proud of you!

kristin said...


i'm so happy to see you following your passions. i have been wondering for some time how to make access to healthy foods available to lower-income Americans. our neighborhood in Boston is fortunate enough to have a supermarket, but the produce is often sparse and wilted (and we don't have a car). for many Americans, fresh produce and organic foods are difficult to afford, especially when the McDonald's around the corner will keep the kids fed for $1.

you have such talent, vision, and understanding in both the food world and the policy realm that i am hopeful that you will be a leader in creating greater justice in terms of nutritious food access. best wishes to you.


Alison said...

Hi Analiese! This is Ali from PSP writing to you!

I love reading your blog - I feel like you and I have had/are having very similar journies. After graduating GW, I went to massage school up on a mountain in rural northern California, where we ate a whole-foods vegetarian diet and practiced a lot of yoga and tai chi. The year after, I moved back to NJ, became certified as an adult and children's yoga instructor, took community classes at the Natural Gourmet Cooking Institute in NYC, and toyed with doing either their chef program or the IIN program.

Since then, I moved back to California with my now-husband, and am working as a grantwriter for Catholic Charities.

My words of advice to you would be to continually check in and find the YOU in the midst of everything you are learning. It can be really easy to get sucked into a mindset without even really realizing it, and not wonder why until later.

When I was at massage school, and the year after, I was TOTALLY into the the whole foods vegetarian diet, so much so that I was preachy and snobby about it with my NJ family when I got home. When I did my yoga teacher training, I felt my body needing protein, and started eating fish after 5 years of vegetarianism.

Now being with my carnivorous husband for 4 years, I am a full-on meat eater again. I have rediscovered my love for greasy cheeseburgers, but still feel the health and energy benefits of a spring mix salad or really good tempeh.

As I try to find my own sense of balance about what foods and movement habits feel really good to me, I notice voices from my massage school experience echoing in my head - "pasta is like basically eating nothing, have whole grains...well, sugar is really just a candida-feeder, you don't really want it you're addicted to it...etc etc...

I offer this because I notice that, for me, following "whole foods" nutrition because its "good for me", or because my training tells me to, is WAY LESS FUN and supportive than doing it because it feels good and natural. I SO appreciate your thoughtfulness and exploration about what lifestyle feels best to you....and I really want to have a great wrap-up sentence here, but its 1am and I'm tired, so its not coming to me:)

Lots of luck in your new endeavors!!

Oh, and PS - I'm just starting back to work from maternity leave this week,(20 hours from home, 10 hours in office) and I have TOTALLY noticed the positive difference having set tasks and vague timelines makes in my energy level and general sense of vibrance - I'll keep you posted as I figure out my routine goes!

Lots of love,

Rachel said...

This is so awesome! I'm so inspired by you and your a-ha moment! Can't wait to follow you along on this exciting journey! :)

Anonymous said...

This is such an inspiring post... I have been down a very similar path with a few road bumps along the way. Feeling very passionate about health, and excited to see you are with INN! I have been looking into INN for a while now, and it sounds like everyone enjoys it! Can't wait to read on.

MUCH luck and success- -


Related Posts with Thumbnails