Name: Caroline Edwards
Type of Project: Artistic Endeavour
Description of My STEP Signature Project :
Starting Summer 2015 and continuing today, my $2000 has been used toward a healthy life movement. I have spent this time attending yoga classes, participating in rigorous workout programs, biking as my main transportation, and eating an organic healthy diet. I have been eating healthy raw foods and working out while publicly tracking my progress through an Instagram account funandfit_ce. (https://www.instagram.com/funandfit_ce/)
Background: Prior to this experience, I had chronic problems with my stomach for several years. I had undergone numerous tests, all of which came back negative. This was a very frustrating, painful and costly process for no results. My family was paying over $1,000 a month for stomach medicine to shut down my colon everyday so that I could function in society. The medicine was the only thing that has successfully managed my stomach problems, although it has had many other negative side effects. This was a real stress in my life and something that had a negative effect on me in many ways.
This experience has had numerous positive impacts on my life. Prior to this experience, my gastrointestinal doctor had told me that he thought with a healthy diet and exercise my stomach problems could vastly improve. Since nothing else has really helped, a holistic approach would be the only other option to improving my stomach issues. This project funded my healthy lifestyle by providing healthy food and workouts. This allowed me completely throw myself into the healthy lifestyle. After months of changes to my diet, exercise program and a new trial medication, my stomach problems began to greatly improve.
Along with the medical benefits, this experience also helped to improve my self-esteem and overall well-being. Today, I feel so much stronger and more fit and my body is running much more smoothly than it has previously.
Activities and Relationships That Led to My Transformation:
Throughout this experience I was able to learn, first hand, the importance of eating healthy foods and exercise. I learned an immense amount about exercise from yoga classes, workout circuits and biking. From yoga, I learned about the importance of balance, stretching and total body fitness. Yoga also taught me how me to reflect in on my thoughts and tune into how my body is feelings to have to most power and strength in my workout. Biking taught me the importance of endurance. I started out only being able to bike short distances, but over time I gradually biked further and further. Circuit training taught me to push myself and never give up. There was many times during hard workouts that I felt like giving up but I would keep pushing myself, which greatly helped to improve my mental and physical strength. Not only did I learn about the exercises themselves, I learned about their impact on my body. I now use the techniques of deep breathing, that I learned from my yoga instructors and trainers to better maintain the stress in my life. I have learned how to use exercise to boost my mood and energy level as well as maintain mental stability.
This experience allowed me to learn a lot about the importance of a well balanced diet. I was able to try countless new fruits, vegetables and grains, which I have been able to incorporate into my diet. I learned that healthy foods can not only help your body run more smoothly by increasing metabolism and regulating body functions but also help to improve overall energy level and mood. Most importantly, I was able to use healthy foods to greatly improve my chronic stomach issues by introducing healthy bacteria and probiotics into my GI tract. Now, I have replaced the junk food and premade meals with healthy new snacks and recipes to keep my body running smoothly. The information that I have learned through this experience is going to be applicable throughout the rest of my life.
My STEP experience also allowed me to create relationships with other women embarking on similar healthy lifestyle journeys. Throughout this experience, I tracked my project through an Instagram account that functioned as my blog. On the account, I posted pictures and comments about my intensive healthy lifestyle endeavor. I shared my workouts, recipes, struggles and triumphs with my followers. This was extremely beneficial because it gave me an outlet to share changes I experience with my mind, body, and spirit. I posted pictures of the progress I make in loosing fat and gaining muscle through exercise and healthy eating. Overtime, I gained a follower basis that was very interactive. I began to receive messages from other young women who were attempting to start new healthy lives asking for my advice. I was then able to respond to them using the information and experiences that I had accumulated while doing this project.
Impact On My Life:
This experience has had a very positive impact on my academic, personal and life goals. Academically, this experience has helped me develop much better study habits. I use deep breathing exercises to relax myself during studying and to reduce my anxiety before exams. I have, also, found that working out before studying improves my concentration and energy levels. Personally, this experience has helped me become overall much healthier as well as helping to improve my stomach issues. Finally, this experience has helped me to develop a sustainable healthy lifestyle that will be implement in my life for years to come.