I was caught off guard the first time someone told me I was healthy. Being healthy wasn’t something I had ever thought about or strived towards. I had always intuitively gravitated towards a vegetarian diet, but I also struggled with an eating disorder, that, looking back I can now see was the result of unresolved emotional pain from my parents’ ongoing divorce. I didn’t have the tools or emotional intelligence to cope with it, and ended up drinking, smoking, and experimenting with other things usually not associated with “healthy” behavior. One day when I was 15, I woke up early and felt a calling to go to yoga. Even though it was 5:30am, I was able to get my mom to drive me to a yoga class that started at 6. It was here that my quest for being healthy had officially begun.
I loved yoga from that first session, and would regularly drag to class my friends, family, and boyfriend (now my husband). Similar to converting people to a religion, my obsession traveled with me everywhere I went. This obsessive way of thinking never stopped, only transferring itself into different forms of wellness fads I would subconsciously latch on to.
What started as simply a vegetarian diet and yoga turned into giving up soda, sugary coffee drinks, and alcohol, before becoming vegan, getting my yoga teaching certification, and going to plant-based culinary school. I even got off my ADD medication and hormonal birth control. I was feeling well and felt like my eating disorder and unhealthy behavior was a thing of the past.
When I moved to LA, I found myself surrounded by a community that finally understood my lifestyle. I read and applied everything I knew and could learn about nutrition, trying to biohack my way to optimal health.
But I soon realized that this was turning into disordered behavior. I still hadn’t dealt with the emotional issues of my childhood, and was now caught up in the LA lifestyle of trying to be perfect.
In an effort to achieve all my dreams at a young age, I was in a hurry to live life as quickly as I possibly could — at 23.
Around this time I lost my period. My hair started falling out and I was always tired. Even though I was working out multiple times a day and eating a clean, low sugar, low carb, plant-based diet I started gaining weight rapidly. I went to many different doctors in search of an answer but didn’t agree with what anyone said, until I saw integrative healing doctor (and also Goop-favorite), Dr. Habib Sadeghi. He took one look at my bloodwork and told me to forget everything I had learned, go home, and eat everything. I was malnourished and my body was holding onto inflammation because I was essentially starving myself.
I went home that day confused as to how I had lost my way. I didn’t even know what “wellness” meant to me anymore. It was just a word that meant eating clean food. But with Dr. Sadeghi’s help I was able to regulate my thyroid and heal my whole body, getting my menstrual cycle back so I could go on to give birth to my sweet little baby boy. I tapped back into my intuition and learned to think for myself — realizing that wellness meant feeling my personal best so I could live outside myself and be a more involved citizen in the world.
Once I realized how small and isolated my world had become I had to learn how to be my own advocate, rather than blindly following the latest health trend.
I learned about intuitive eating and how much joy I have when I eat my culture’s “Persian rice,” when I enjoy a croissant or spaghetti, and when I think of my time in Italy with my husband, truly satisfied and not stressing about going to the gym and staying away from complex carbs.
One of my biggest lessons in life was realizing that once you let go of the intensity, the inflammation eventually fades away. It takes time, and there are layers upon layers, but learning to let go is my biggest wellness hack. It’s not easy and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about things, but it’s a way of being that makes living life a lot more enjoyable. It’s a way of being that I hope comes naturally to my son so he can walk this life a bit easier.
*As seen in Mother Mag.
Nikki Bostwick is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the fullest, host of the fullest podcast, and the creator of the Saffron Latte.