In 2012, I realized my health was heading in a dangerous direction. I was in university and bartended at night to support myself through school. The stress of school, late night shifts and partying with friends from the industry was taking its toll on my physical, mental and emotional health.
I remember catching a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror and I didn’t recognize the girl staring back at me. Was that really me? Is that who I had become? My eyes were dull, I looked semi-depressed and anxiety-ridden, had terrible skin, and was the most out of shape I’d ever been in. That’s when it hit me: I was struggling for real. Somehow I got lost along the way and this was a wake up call that I needed to get my health back on track before it deteriorated further. I couldn’t continue down this road if I ever wanted to live to my fullest potential.
Before I could address the physical, I had to address the inner self. So I threw on my work boots, grabbed a shovel and began the internal digging process in search of the root of my unhappiness. The following years were messy, but very productive. I realized I had been stuck in this negative, fear-based way of thinking that kept me running in circles – doing the same things over again, expecting circumstances to change but never seeing results. Instead of dealing with my problems and insecurities, I masked them with food, alcohol and toxic relationships. I learned a lot about myself during this time that led to a complete revamp of my thought process. I embraced a more positive outlook and made a pact with myself that I would continue putting in effort to improve my health, so I could not only feel my absolute best, but also so I could be the best version of myself.
The internal healing I did set the foundation for the physical work I needed to do. I admit my initial attempt was ridiculous; I went from regularly eating fried pub food and having no dietary restrictions to attempting a 30-day raw food cleanse during the coldest months of winter, where temperatures regularly reach -30ºC. Needless to say, I lasted only 21-days and would never recommend doing what I did under similar conditions. But, this experience taught me new ways to prepare food, and most importantly, showed me how well my body thrives on a whole foods, plant-based diet. I felt light and more energetic, also the mental fogginess I experienced and many of my digestive issues began to go away.
So when I ate cooked foods again, those positive feelings motivated me to continue eating healthily. I never told myself this was going to be a permanent change, I just took it day-by-day and listened to my body. Slowly, I’ve been able to heal and rid myself of all my previous ailments (think: weak nails, thinning hair, poor skin, weight gain, terrible digestion, liver congestion, awful PMS, allergies and constant fatigue) through the food and lifestyle choices I made and continue to make. My skin has been a huge issue for a while now but I’ve bought lots of new skincare products to help combat the acne and dullness. My friend suggested that I shop at Renee Rouleau but I found some great products in my local drugstore instead. My skin is finally recovering!
When I saw how powerful nutrition was to my overall health, I was driven to learning as much as I could about how we can heal through food. I enrolled at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and now practice nutrition through various capacities, a favourite being recipe development because I get to eat my work! My personal health transformation inspires me to guide others to live their healthiest life. I’m excited to share this journey with you.
For more healthy inspiration and delicious recipes, be sure to follow me on my Instagram Account. I’m so excited for you to join in on all of my #DoTheDaniel adventures in Ottawa!
With love & gratitude,
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Photos by Hannah Rauhanen, CNP