By age 22, I already had a long history of self-hate and endless diets; sound familiar? Although I had successfully lost my freshman twenty through Weight Watchers, I still didn’t see beauty when I looked in the mirror, and I was convinced I never would. I saw lumps, I saw stretch marks, I saw bumpy skin and all my imperfections. I was addicted to food and felt guilty when I indulged. It’s shocking to believe how much I hated my body, considering today – I truly love myself. I wake up and I am grateful to be alive another day. I apologize to my liver after a weekend splurge, and I overdose daily on essential oils, natural herbs, and an abundance of vegetables. My body is my temple and there is little more important to me than my health. How did I transform my ugly self-hate into overflowing self-love? It happened accidentally, the moment I learned the truth behind our food industry.
A friend sent me a YouTube link to a short video Meat your Meat (beware: graphic content). Those twelve minutes forced me to accept that animals used for food are kind, sentient creatures who deserve so much more than a tortured, enslaved life destined for slaughter. I was also shocked to learn that factory farming causes more environmental damage than any other industry including transportation or energy. However the point of this article is not to convince you to stop eating animals, although I highly encourage it! My point is that once I discovered the quality of the foods I was eating and the detrimental effects they have on our bodies and the planet, I could no longer live the lifestyle I’d lived my entire life. The truth shifted my perspective and facilitated a change that I wanted for so long but never knew was possible.
I needed to learn more. I read the books “Eating Animals” and “Skinny Bitch” and I watched documentaries including “Food Inc” and “Samsara”. I quit meat, dairy and coffee immediately and struggled with feelings of loss, deprivation and isolation. I grew up in New York on the standard American diet of bacon, eggs, cheese, iced coffee with milk, pizza, frozen yogurt, meatballs, deli meat, grilled chicken and did I mention cheese? However, as I continued to educate myself on the food industry I began to stop seeing food as a means to satisfy momentary desires and instead realized it is capable of nourishing, fueling, and healing our beloved bodies.
My transformation has not been seamless, but the beauty is that each day has gotten easier. Six years later, I am obsessed with my plant-based lifestyle and I am healthier than I have ever been. I have discovered and created substitutes for most of my favorite foods and have lost cravings for the others. I met my life partner who is on his own plant-fueled path that so closely aligns with mine. On a deeper level, once I cleared all the junk from my physical body, my connection to my intuition and my truest self grew stronger. I could no longer do work that did not align with my values. My wildest dreams began fighting to escape from me so intensely that I had no choice but to surrender to their will.
I am a writer, musician, artist, wellness enthusiast and activist, and I am constantly feeding all those parts of me that want to live. I feed them with plants, with Earth’s natural resources, and, in response, I’ve developed a deep, loving connection to nature and to myself. It is true that we are what we eat. Do you want your cells to be permeated by chemicals and toxins and utterly disconnected to the healing systems inside your body? Or do you want to finally experience the strength of your body, learn to love it and love yourself?
My advice is to first begin by saying I LOVE YOU. Look at yourself in the mirror and say it aloud! Admire your body; feel gratitude for your working legs, your breathing lungs, your flawless senses, and your determined heart that beats through it all. Focus on what you love about yourself, on what you take for granted. Remember how lucky you are to be complete and alive. It may feel false at first because you have conditioned feelings of self-doubt, but eventually these loving thoughts become so natural that you question how you could have ever felt differently.
Value your body. Begin to pay attention to what you put into and on it. Recognize your body for the beautiful miracle it is: a self-sustaining machine designed to carry you for almost a century! Are you sure you want that inside of you? It may only contain 90 calories, but is it nourishing you? Is it fighting disease or cultivating it? Opt for whole foods and release everything you have learned about counting calories. READ INGREDIENTS. Avoid preservatives, added sugars, vegetable oils, and choose whole foods that have no need for labels.
*Pro Tip: Find a local farm or co-op to receive organic produce delivered to your door weekly!
The same goes for cosmetics and household products. Eliminate the CVS brand shampoo and opt for organic soaps and cruelty-free options instead. Your skin is your largest organ.
Begin to listen to your body; move it regularly, but don’t beat yourself up at the gym because you had a late-night binge. No one is perfect, but we are all unique. Honor yourself, love yourself, release the guilt when you feel it and forgive yourself for the hate you’ve felt in the past. I promise you can change your self-perspective and the irony is that once your do, your physical body will follow. Be patient with yourself and your journey because it won’t happen overnight, but one day you will wake up, instinctively give yourself the love you’ve always deserved and it will feel amazing. I am stronger and more connected than I have ever been and I promise from the bottom of my heart that I started right where you are. If I can do it, so can you.
Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or for tips!
With Endless Gratitude,
Author: Alexa Jesse
Author Bio: Alexa J is 28 years old, born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. After spending three years living in the Hamptons, she followed her gut, packed up her life, and moved to San Francisco. She is a wellness coach, musician, and activist who left the corporate grind to pursue her dreams.
Alexa survived a near fatal car accident in 2016 in which she shattered her pelvis and broke her spine. Through her long recovery she is more determined than ever to live her life to the fullest, to accomplish her goals and to inspire others to do the same. She is passionate about physical and spiritual wellness, healing from trauma, music, art, and our one, precious Planet Earth.
Link to social media or website: http://www.gypsyuniverse.com | Instagram @gypsyuniverse