• Devan DeSandis

My Why | Journey to Becoming a Health & Wellness Advocate


Stereotypical Standard of Healthy by Devan DeSandis

Who am I? As a 32-year-old woman who spent most of my life struggling with body image & weight, how can I consider myself a health & wellness advocate? What qualifies me to take on this title, when I am "not healthy?” These are negative beliefs I had to overcome when I began my education in health & wellness. I had a specific idea of what I was supposed to look like in order to be taken seriously in the health & wellness industry. Harmful ideas about what it meant to be healthy, that had been molded by a lifetime of unsafe standards and keywords that were influenced by the media - specifically the fashion & fitness industries, as well as personal experiences during my time dancing in NYC as a teenager.


Before I began my education, when starting a new diet or workout plan, my sole goal was weight loss. I thought changing my physical body’s appearance was all that was necessary to be considered healthy. I pushed myself to the brink of injury, exhaustion and malnourishment. This led to a toxic relationship with food and my body, which eventually led to a battle with depression. I didn’t yet understand that my mindset, the things I said to myself, how I viewed food, exercise and the unhealthy beliefs I had created, were equally as important in creating an overall healthy person. I had to learn that being healthy had more to do with my mental heath then it did my physical appearance.


This has also been my experience with private yoga therapy clients. Together we set goals and things we want to accomplish in our time together. Weight loss & some type of emotional relief are usually at the top of my clients list. From there we begin to break down what being healthy means to them, which is usually filled with words from the "Stereotypical Standard of Healthy" word cloud I included in the beginning of this article. We begin to reframe and redefine what the word healthy means, and from there I see their goals begin to shift.

Through my education and working with other health & wellness professionals, I was able to break through these mental barriers. Being healthy means cultivating a daily routine, no crazy intense workout necessary! For me, in the beginning, daily walks & yoga at the studio I worked in was my

Holistic Standard of Healthy by Devan DeSandis

routine. From there, as my goals progressed so did my routine. Being healthy means being mindful with the food we fuel our bodies with, which includes meal prepping a weeks worth of meals. For me besides meal prep, it meant creating the affiliation of food as fuel, not an emotional support for comfort. And finally and most importantly I learned being healthy means having compassion and patience with yourself. For me, this meant accepting my humanity, accepting I am not perfect, and I will have bad days. Having a Blizzard from Dairy Queen doesn't make me a failure or an unhealthy person, it means I am human. Tomorrow is always a new day to start again.


This is "my why," this is what qualifies me to be a Health & Wellness Advocate. Aside from my educational pursuits in the field, I have lived the experience of unhealthy & unhappy, and I understand first hand how difficult it can be to remold an individuals image of what being healthy looks like. And really a deeper understanding of knowing that healthy looks different for everybody. I am looking forward to connecting with a new audience of readers, sparking some curiosity about what living a healthy life really means to you, and offering up local health & wellness options in our area.


Light & Love,

Devan



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