No matter where you are in life, you can always start your own journey to health

By Mariella Irivarren
Instagram @mformariella
Twitter @mirivarren

Let me start off by saying that I am in no way a health expert, nutritionist, fitness guru, or any of the likes. I am simply a health-conscious consumer constantly striving to be my best self, physically and mentally.

Just over 4 years ago I embarked on this journey of self-improvement, and to this day the journey continues. In fact, it is a life-long journey and has become part of my daily practice. No matter what curveballs or difficulties get thrown at me, I strive to remain motivated. Although my quest for self-improvement started with the desire to eat better and lose a few pounds, it has become so much more than that.

It all started with the documentary “Hungry for Change” – that documentary changed my life and my three key takeaways were:

  1. “Low calorie” and “Low Fat” doesn’t mean healthy
  2. Reading food labels and ingredients is crucial
  3. Refined sugar is the enemy.

As soon as I finished watching the film I cleared out all my kitchen cabinets from highly processed and chemical-filled foods and replaced them with REAL FOOD. No more frozen meals or quick snacks. My freezer was nearly empty yet my veggie & fruit compartments were overflowing. The idea of dieting disappeared, and I realized that being healthy was a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix.

One documentary led to the next, and I soon found myself understanding that the source of many illnesses in today’s world is due to what we ingest and how it negatively affects our bodies. There seemed to be a correlation between obesity rates and illnesses in countries where the concept of wholesome and nutrient rich meals was lost, and quick/easy meals were thriving.

Due to the many documentaries I watched and articles I read, my entire view on the meat industry changed and so I quickly decided to convert to a plant-based diet. Change was NOT easy, and despite some initial resistance from family and friends, people learned to embrace my lifestyle choices.

I was the first in my family to change my relationship with food. I continued learning about food and where it came from, eating fresh ingredients and making healthy recipes, as well as purchasing organic foods free of pesticides. It took my family a couple of years to truly understand my new lifestyle and it wasn’t long after when they started making positive changes on their own.

Beyond food, my journey also included a desire to be fit, not for the sole purpose of losing weight, but for the purpose of being stronger, fitter, and a better version of myself that I was comfortable with.
I am a corporate event planner by day – I travel a lot, and work late hours under highly stressful environments… and let me tell you it is extremely challenging to exercise regularly and eat healthy while on the road when you barely have time to get a decent sleep!

Work-life balance was limited and I wasn’t always good to my body & soul. I realized my mental health was suffering and I needed to recover. In order to de-stress and remain focused I picked up Yoga and started to meditate. The positive energy I felt when I did either of these was exactly what I needed to move forward and find my balance.

Four and a half years later my journey to health continues. I am not a perfect human being and still get derailed from time to time, but my motivation to be my best self remains. No matter where you are in life, you can always start your own journey to health, whatever “healthy” that means to you.

So tell me, how will you begin your journey?