I originally wanted to try being Vegan for a week as one of my 100 goals (link below if you want to find out more). A week became a month when I discovered the 1 Month Vegan Challenge on the Vegan Society website and on Sunday 10th April 2016 is my 1 Year Veganniversary. So I wanted to celebrate by sharing my story of falling in love with myself.
Was it tough going Vegan?
At first, the tough part wasn't so much finding out what food I can eat, rather, finding out who I am. I had spent much of my teenage and adult life feeling worthless. Fat. Spotty. Ugly. Anxious. All of the above. This led to some awfully unhealthy, faddy diets, bingeing & overexercising. I thought this was normal!!! **newsflash it's not**
As a Beauty Therapist, I meet women that come to me to feel good about themselves, yet I had never been confident enough to let myself feel good. Spending so much of my time over-thinking about my weight or my looks meant that the real Hollie was hidden away.
When I started looking at the ingredients in my shopping for animal products, I started looking at the ingredients of me. What makes a Hollie? Some Diet Coke, poor body image, too much caffeine and low self-esteem, afraid to speak up or stand up for what she believes in. Have you ever felt like this?
That voice in my head that had been saying 'you can't eat this, you will get fat,' had finally been overcome.
Realising what all those ingredients actually were, that's what hit home big time. I would google an ingredient whilst wandering round Asda and then research it when I got home. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I had tried being Vegetarian before, but then I wondered....I got why Vegans don't eat meat, I see why they eat vegetables (they are just healthy people right?). Nope. Not even close.
But why don't Vegans eat eggs? Animals don't die if I eat eggs. They were never alive right? I watched a video about the egg industry. How I cried. For hours. Eventually my husband had to put a ban on me watching these videos because I was turning into a wreck. I had finally been cracked.
I always considered myself to be quite hard. Never showing my real feelings..not wanting to socialise much. Avoiding it where possible. Trying to make plans and see my friends, but getting anxious and bailing out last minute. My skin was just too bad. My tummy is too big. I'm too tall to wear high heels...I don't want anyone to see me like this.
But then something magical happened.
A lady came to me recently and apologised for 'being fat.' I was horrified. It broke my heart.
I want you to know that you never, ever apologise for your body, especially not in my space. It is your safe haven. Where you can be yourself.
'I'm not here to judge, I'm here to help you appreciate yourself, help you feel good in your skin and tell you how truly beautiful you are. You might not think so, but I will keep telling you until you believe it yourself. In my space, we do not say things that make us feel bad about ourselves.'
Another lady undressed for her tan and cried because she was so embarrassed about her body. Her husband had come along and was waiting outside. The way he had looked at her...true love and adoration. She told me he loved her body and she couldn't see why. She was so beautiful I couldn't bear that she didn't see it herself.
'We hugged then.
Me in my make up-less face and teary eyes.
Her, almost naked.. crying and at war with herself.
The scent of bearberry pre tan spray in the air.'
I can proudly say, she went on to confidently hold the spray tan poses while I worked; and as she was about to leave I caught her smiling at her reflection. Those moments make my job. ️
Why hadn't I been this caring before? Yes I had always give my all, the best job I could do.. But I hadn't been connecting. Now that my heart was open to being Vegan, people and animals were connecting with me. I think maybe the animals can smell it on me and choose to like me!! Haha. But as for people, I didn't realise until now how much I can help them feel good with my words and my actions.
It suddenly came to me..When I love myself, I love others. I had always thought I was giving 100% but now I can be honest, compassionate and caring towards my clients in a way I never thought possible.
Moving on, as the months went by and I was becoming more caring, I also adjusted well to my lifestyle (not diet, lifestyle) and was able to do my weekly shop in less and less time. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I used to often skip meat and just eat the same meal without it. Now I just have more vegetables or starches, sometimes I might have a meat replacement like a Linda McCartney sausage or some quorn pieces. Im getting more vitamins and I'm healthier. Now I don't avoid ice cream because I'm worried I will gain weight - I just make sure it's dairy free and have it in moderation.
The nagging voice in my head telling me I'm fat disappeared somewhere along the way in my journey. Now I eat what I want, when I want. Lots of Vegan websites and forums explain that as you transition to this lifestyle and are figuring out what to eat, you gain weight. It scared the hell out of me when I started, but I gained around 15lbs and I couldn't have cared less. My skin cleared up when I gave up dairy (more on my skin in the next blog because recently quitting contraception has made it cray-cray and it can't just be me dealing with this).
Now that I have a better understanding of what Veganism is, how it protects our environment, saves lives of animals, saves water and much more; I have started to eat healthier and look after my body.
When I feel stressed, I get a massage and feel relaxed.
When I feel shy, I do my nails & feel confident.
When I feel manky, I have a wax or a pedicure and maintain my body.
Self-Love is so simple.
Self-employment has been keeping me indoors, so I've been getting out on walks and started swimming again recently. I'm more aware of what choices I make (I can still eat a pizza or chips.. But I now only do this as a treat). My weight has got back to normal and I'm starting to fit back into my old clothes. I have a new found appreciation of myself. In fact, I'm pretty awesome.
So it's been a year.. Would I go through it all again?
Without a doubt.
I hope this blog has let you see this different side of me and that you are going to spend more time looking after yourself. Because you ARE beautiful, and you DO deserve to be happy.
Love, Hollie xxx
Vegan Society: https://www.vegansociety.com/
100 Goals: http://www.housebeautyhemel.com/beauty-blog/2016-goals