The story of the month for July 2011 comes from Jeanie Witcraft of JWitcraft.com

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeanie online at least over a year ago as she was venturing along on her personal journey of transformation. Today Jeanie has achieved so much in changing herself and her life for the better.

What makes Jeanie’s story so valuable also, is that she is authentic about her journey. There were and are ups and downs. There was some backsliding and trial and error along the way. However, all this is part of a journey that creates our life in various enriching ways and allows us to learn more about ourselves.

Jeanie’s story touches upon mental, emotional and physical health. It is very real, clear and to the point in how Jeanie got to be where she is today.

And so here is Jeanie sharing her story of change for better health and overall wellness:

Area(s) of My Health and Wellness that Needed Change

I improved my mental health because I was tired of being miserable to the point of contemplating suicide at one point due to work pressure.

Then, I changed the way I interact in relationships and made a conscious effort to focus on the beauty of those around me and to have my own recognized in carefully selected relationships. I believe the poor quality of the relationships I had affected my mental and physical health to a great degree.

Finally, I started caring for my physical health in several different ways, because I was tired of being fat, lethargic, and seeing adventures happening to other people that I could have if I were in better shape. Oddly enough, the relationships I had at the time were with people who did not support my desire for better physical fitness and health.

As far as how everything intertwined and how I did them:

I took the “shake up my life and change everything at once” approach. First, I quit smoking in February of 2009. I started a new job in August of last year, and the data overload prompted me to minimize my physical clutter. This coincided with my switch to vegetarianism and riding my bike more often in the woods.

The renewed energy and increased ambition to do more with my life highlighted my growing discontent with my romantic relationship, job, and geographic location. I left the relationship, sold the rest of my things, transitioned to vegan, quit my job, moved into my car, and started traveling the United States by March of 2011. While these things did wonders for my mental health, they sidetracked me significantly on my physical health goals!

Strategies I Implemented & Their Results

My strategy is pretty simple: if I want something, I go for it. If it makes me feel bad, I don’t do or eat it again.

I became very sick at the end of March after 5 months of pretty strict veganism: bruised easily, bleeding & pale gums, lack of energy, low level nausea for several days running. I ate a steak and half a burger and felt better. In retrospect, I probably should have loaded up on spinach & beets. I now eat eggs and the occasional ice cream or pizza slice. However, I eat mostly vegetables and fruits cooked at home. Currently, I’m debating switching to a low carb flexitarian diet & increasing my strength workouts. I’m also intermittently fasting, which is a fancy term for only eating when I’m actually hungry within a narrowed time frame. The reason I’m doing these things is, I see the results of people utilizing these techniques long term, and I’d like to achieve the same.

My road trip skewed my workout plans, so the only workouts I did during the month and a half of road trippin’ were walking, giving massages, and stretching. Now that I’ve settled in Atlanta with my fiance, I have more space and time to devote to more physical activities. I’ve also allowed space for the incredible emotional journey of untangling myself from common conventions and blazing my own trail. The amount of information and debate over which diet is healthiest and which workouts are most effective are mind boggling. It’s easy to lose track if you don’t complete your own research and try things for yourself.

How My Changes Benefitted Me

I’ve lost 35 pounds with 55 to go, lowered my total cholesterol to 115, and am able to go on day hikes, walk cities for several hours, and am generally ecstatic about waking up every morning.

I’ve also sharpened my focus to things which really matter to me vs. wasting time on things which don’t contribute to the quality or length of my life. These include photography, helping people untangle themselves from limiting beliefs, reading, exploring different cultures of the world, and continuing to push myself physically.

Next Steps on My Health and Wellness Journey

Physically: I’d like to be able to do 10 handstand pushups, become comfortable in Krav Maga, and finish every climbing route at my local gym. I’m also committing to a daily practice of yoga and riding my bike. Fortunately, my fiance supports me in these goals and understands my desire to eat vegetarian & mostly at home. As for the intensive exercise schedule…he’ll take a bit more convincing. I enjoy working out with people, especially when I’m climbing at the gym.

Wisdom & Inspiration for Others

You’re going to backslide. Experiment and see what works for you.

Don’t beat yourself up because Susie Q has it all together & you’re “just” eating your veggies. Keep doing what works and eliminate what doesn’t–in any area of your life.

Celebrate your small victories in ways which further your journey into health. Above all, don’t be afraid to listen to that small voice inside which isn’t happy with your life.