Why I Really Went Vegan
I shouldn't be writing this post.
Let me rephrase that.
I don't want to be writing this post.
This is a post about something that I am dealing with right now and I'm not really sure if I'm at the point where I want help, quite frankly.
I've made it a habit to write about struggles which I've overcome. By suing that method, I can easily map out a solution in a few short paragraphs, throw in a metaphor to make it more relatable and understandable, insert a Bible verse, and end with a feel-good message about victory.
But this isn't one of those posts.
I started leading my community group this week and, after telling my testimony, I looked at all my girls and told them that, quite frankly, my story isn't a fairytale.
It didn't end with a happy ending where the enemy got defeated and all was well in the kingdom. I still struggle with the same things I've struggled with for 5 years. I've had healing and I've gotten through the worst of it, but it's not nearly over yet. There are days that make me need to fight harder against myself and the enemy to stay alive and to not slip into my old mindset.
But I'm still fighting.
And this is a story of another battle.
Get it? Battle?
Okay... This is my new story.
Last semester, around March, I promised myself that I would give myself just 10 minutes a day to workout, that I would have grace on the days that I couldn't, and I wouldn't let those 10 minutes become the focus of my life.
Full discloser- I did this because working out improves your mental state. I usually work out when I get antsy or suicidal and it distracts me and refocuses my attention to the task at hand. It was a really healthy solution.
And it worked for a while. I would workout for the bare minimum some days, but on others I would usually get too into it to stop and the 10 minutes would sometimes morph into an hour... or two.
That wasn't really unhealthy. Honestly? On paper it was really healthy. I had two free hours- I was either going to watch Zoella in my bed, cry, or do some squats.
But that was then.
This summer, it became an obsession.
The minimum of 10 minutes moved to a minimum of and hour. And if I didn't do that hour, I would beat myself up about it and start to hate myself because by losing that hour, I could affect my body and ruin the progress I had made.
I became a slave to what was meant to help me.
I went on a mission trip and had a panic attack about how I was going to be too busy serving the Lord to workout. I would be out with my friends and be too distracted because I wanted to go back and do 30 minutes of abs. I would be warming up for rehearsal in a plank position and then get onstage in the heat of the summer and workout there too.
My resolution was no longer a desire to improve my mental health, but instead became another trigger for my mental health.
Isn't that ironic? The very thing I thought would fix my problem actually made a new problem. Like a hydra- (metaphor for this post) you cut something off and then it grows more heads. I tried to cut off some mental issues- but then it added obsession, fear, pride, jealousy, and the beginnings of an eating disorder.
I would love to end this post right here and tagline it with a "guys, Jesus is the only way to fix your mental health or to give you satisfaction. You're going to come up short everywhere else and you're going to wear yourself down and out getting pleasures from this world- but it's an empty task and you will never be able to accomplish or gain anything from this world because it's fallen. Always go to Jesus, nothing in this world will satisfy you or help you other than God".
But it ain't over yet.
So I was working out for hours a day and I still hated the way I looked.
I went on two mission trips and felt like crap after both.
So I added a new layer to my bondage that I masked under the name "self care".
I stopped eating.
Okay, calm down. I didn't stop eating. But I stopped eating the majority of food in the world.
I texted my mom the night before my mission trip ended and said "I'm going vegan (and gluten free and intermittent fasting)", to which she responded "k".
So for the rest of the summer, Linda ate burgers while I ate lettuce.
On those trips, because I ate what normal people ate (pizza and Oreos) and didn't work out for a week (but I did do outdoor labor in the heat of summer for 6 hours a day), I decided to punish myself and create new boundaries and restrictions on all aspects of my physical health- including my food intake.
I didn't want to enjoy life anymore, I just wanted to be 'fit'.
Bible verse time!
"you knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
I kept telling myself that as I was crying on my yoga mat, under-fed and worn out from trying to restrict my body from getting the nutrients and rest it needed.
And the thing my twisted brain did to that verse is telling me that God knit me together in my mother's womb. And that's all. After I came out, it was my body to destroy. He had no say. I was no longer made by God's hands, that was only true at the very beginning of my life.
GUYS. Don't be this dumb.
We are all God's creations and all made in His image. That doesn't stop when we are born, or when we go through our awkward middle school stages, or even at the very end of our lives.
God's image is just like all of His attributions- eternal. So why should it end in us?
Also, let's reason here for a minute- if we believe and trust in God and that He is in us, He will shine through us. And no one can look ugly when the Creator of the Universe is shining through her.
I know that if you're struggling with low self esteem or eating disorders this is going to fall flat, but how much you weigh, or the color of your hair, or how smooth your skin is will always fall short to the beauty we get when Christ shines through us.
So yeah. Hello. I'm still vegan and gluten free. I still workout every day. I only eat 8 hours a day and fast for 15.. Sometimes more, My YouTube feed is filled with videos of workouts, intermittent fasting doctors, and vegan baking instead of Zoella's vlogmas, and I really really want to eat a cookie right now.
I haven't done this 180 where the pixie dust has settled and I see myself the way God sees me (worth His Son's life). But I am working on it. I'm working on letting people see that I'm struggling and working on getting help (there's apparently a right way to go vegan and I'm not doing it). I'm working on letting myself take a break from working out and knowing when I need to stop. I'm working on seeing myself not through the eyes of a self-conscious girl, but through those that are honest and know that I am beautiful- no matter what lies Satan would have me believe.
The part where I tie this post up in a bow isn't going to exist this time.
This is a "to be continued", but it's something so prevalent and important and I couldn't not talk about it. I don't want to just write about the things from which God has delivered me, but also the issues that I have to fight every day and I still don't know how to fix.
I am not ashamed of anything in this post and I am perfectly fine with people knowing my struggles. Everyone has struggles and everyone has faced battling Satan's lies in different ways. Right now, these are the lies I'm tearing down.
This post isn't to tell you not to be healthy. Guys, veganism is great (unless you do it incorrectly.... or you don't like vegetables). Intermittent fasting has so many health benefits. Working out helps when you're stressed or sad and is still a really good thing to do.
But just like with everything, do it slowly, don't make these restrictions your god, and give yourself grace.
Your life and light are not found in the size of your waist or the face looking back at you in the mirror, but in who is in you- and that is the Light of the World. And we are made in His image- and because of that, we are more beautiful than any diet or workout could ever make us.
Maybe that was a little victory bow, but know that this post was written for me too. I still am trying to believe what I'm writing instead of the lies I'm confronted by every day.
So yeah, for everyone asking why I went vegan- it's not for the animals, it's not because I'm lactose intolerant, it's not even for me. I went vegan because of the lies. And that sucks, but it's the truth.
No bows, no metaphors, not really any Bible verses. Just a small girl telling whomever is listening what she's going through. But I think that's enough.