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I have always struggled with my health and well-being. Growing up, I frequently visited hospital emergency rooms, walk-in clinics, specialist offices, and pharmacies. Each visit brought with it a myriad of new ailments and illnesses to manage alongside my everyday life. I have experienced living with everything from eating disorders, severe dermatitis and eczema, chronic pain from endometriosis, and anxiety and depression. For years, I dreamed of finding a hero doctor who would miraculously diagnose all of my health issues at once and prescribe me the perfect pill that would “fix” me for the rest of my life.
Being sick became part of my identity, and I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me. This negative way of thinking and refusal to take my health into my own hands led to poor health in my early 20s. I found myself overweight, suffering from chronic pain, struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness, taking five various medications a day. I was so immensely unhappy and sick that I had no choice but to make a serious change in my life. I finally came to terms with the fact that there was no hero doctor coming to save me. If I wanted to heal and get better, I would need to make my health and well-being a priority.
The first step I took was to look at my health and wellness from a wider perspective and take a holistic approach to my healing. By doing this, I was able to better understand that the various health issues I was struggling with were interconnected consequences of an overall unhealthy lifestyle. It’s been three years since I started making changes, and I am still learning more about how to best take care of myself. While some days I feel like I spend all of my time (and money!) on just trying to get better, I can confidently say I am the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been. All the changes I am making are worth it. Here are five things I budget for to maintain a necessary healthy lifestyle:
A Health Journal
Along my health and wellness journey, I have found it useful to set SMART health and wellness goals to help me first improve and then maintain my desired lifestyle. Setting goals and tracking those goals helped me learn what changes are working well for me so I can see my progress. It has also allowed me to swap previous toxic lifestyle habits for healthier, positive ones. I recently started using a wellness planner made by STIL Classics to track my health and wellness goals. My wellness planner provides me with accessible goal setting and tracking templates for all aspects of my health, from water intake to workouts. Having a planner dedicated to my health and wellness saves me valuable time and energy on trying to create my own tracking system and allows me to stay focused on taking the actual steps every day to get and stay healthy and well. The STIL wellness planner costs $40 CAD ($30 USD) and is structured to last 5-6 months. With shipping, this is about $10 each month.
I love leveraging technology to help me manage my health and well-being. I find apps to be especially beneficial in improving my mental health because I can access the resources in everyday moments when I need support through my phone. I currently pay for premium subscriptions to the meditation app Headspace and the emotion management app Moodnotes. Both of these apps also offer free versions, which are great, but I decided to upgrade so I could access more specialized support such as mediations specific to anxiety and mood timelines that show trends. Paying the premium version each month also works as a financial commitment for me and ensures I actually use the apps and don’t fall off my goals. Each month these subscriptions cost me $35 CAD ($25 USD)
As someone living with chronic pain, exercise is a very complicated part of my life. I am restricted in the types of exercise I am able to do and am always struggling to find the right balance between enough and not enough exercise. Some days I feel great and can make it through an entire hot yoga class, while other days I am in so much pain that I can barely manage a walk in the park. Because of this, it’s important that my exercise routine is varied and allows me to do what my body needs on any given day. So I change my workout routine as needed to do what I can, which ranges from and from strength training to just riding on the stationary bike. Ultimately, I had to find a gym that gave me the flexibility to change my workout routine along with the changing g capacity of my body. My gym membership is the most expensive item in my health and wellness budget and costs me $200 each month. Joining a gym meant I had to cut back on other expenses, like restaurants, but it couldn’t be more worth it because of the immensely positive aspect it has on my physical well being.
Organic, Whole, Plant-Based Foods
Changing your diet is one of the most effective ways to improve your health and well-being. Upon changing my diet to decrease the amount of pre-packaged, pre-processed foods I was consuming and adopting a primarily organic, whole, plant-based diet, I lost 35 pounds. But more important than the weight, my new diet improved both my physical and mental well-being significantly enough that I could stop taking all the medications I had previously been taking. Although eating healthy can be expensive, I have found many ways to do it relatively affordably. For example, I try to buy organic vegetables and fish that are on sale for the week and choose plant-based meat over animal meat. I also practice intermittent fasting which means that I am only eating twice a day and over time, this has worked great for my body. Altogether, I spend approximately $500 CAD on groceries per month ($368 USD).
I am a big advocate of therapy and strongly encourage everyone to try it if they have the means to do so. As someone who has struggled for much of their life with mental health issues, therapy has helped me learn and grow from past mistakes and trauma and create a better life for myself. When I was still in university, I was able to attend weekly therapy sessions through my school. This allowed me to get the consistent, in-depth, practical help I needed to make significant mental health improvements. By the time I finished my undergraduate degree, I no longer felt the need to attend weekly therapy sessions but wanted to make sure I was still doing mental health check-ups with a professional. I found a therapist who works on a sliding scale and has an online booking system. I have one consistent monthly session with her and am able to book with her more as needed. Usually, I book one other therapy session (two total per month) and ultimately end up spending around $100 – $150 CAD (About $75 USD).
There are days when I feel resentful that I’m not able to — and never have been able to — live a carefree, reckless, and wild lifestyle that is often idealized in the media. I can’t eat whatever I want, I can’t party all night, and I need to make sure that I am taking proper care of myself every day. But on most days, prioritizing my health is something I genuinely enjoy. It has changed my life for the better, forever. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true when they say: Investing in yourself, including your health, is the best investment you can make.
Domunique is a full-time communications manager who is interested in finance, health and wellness, pop-culture, and community service. You can follow her on Instagram @domuniquelashay.
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