Guest post from Christina Paruag of FemEvolve
In 2016, I found myself facing a terrifying discovery – I was in a rut, and there seemed to be no way out. I was off of university and couldn’t work due to severe health complications. These complications then seeped into my relationships, showing me who would stick around and who would leave. My relationship at the time was crumbling, my family had shifted, and I ended up moving between houses four times in the year that followed. It felt like an actual nightmare where I woke up one morning and everything in my life changed. In reality, these changes were occurring for months, I just wasn’t aware. The toughest part about this is that I was just at the beginning of launching my business – a women’s health and wellness magazine called FemEvolve that I started to help other women not have to face the same health struggles that I did for years.
These health complications were endometriosis, ruptured ovarian cysts and kidney infections. The endometriosis started when I was only 9 years old and became more apparent after my first period at age 12. By the time I hit university, my stress levels peaked, my diet wasn’t as healthy as I truly thought it was. I began feeling lost and confused as to why I was in such a significant amount of pain. My periods left me on the floor for days, vomiting and crying until the pain subsided.
Eventually I was staying in bed for three weeks at a time, following my courses using online handouts and struggling to keep up. My grades dropped, and I felt like a failure. I was always a high achieving student and had amazing grades, and suddenly everything changed. Once I got a bit better and started working full-time, the endometriosis made it impossible to keep up and I would frequently call in sick. On top of the pain that can be described as being worse than childbirth, I was having frequent migraines, colds, chronic fatigue and sciatica-related pains.
I slowly started integrating yoga and meditation into my life which helped but didn’t rid me of the pain. I also eliminated dairy and gluten from my diet, and I had a surgery which helped for about six months. Soon after, the pain came back, but I learned how to manage it to be able to go to school and work for those three painful weeks every month.
I eventually started doing pelvic floor physiotherapy and laser therapy which helped immensely. By the end of 2016, I was so caught up in taking care of my body that I neglected my relationships and didn’t see how everything was unfolding. Two of my aunts passed away within just weeks of each other at this time, which left me feeling very emotional, and both sides of my family were affected. I also got diagnosed with a kidney infection – one that turned into about four infections, one near death experience and a continuous cycle of doctors proclaiming, “This looks like an infection, you have all the symptoms, but the tests show nothing.” I took 10 rounds of antibiotics, damaging my liver and my immune system, only to find out later on that the last few infections weren’t truly infections, but rather scar tissue from the endometriosis affecting my bladder. I almost lost my left kidney due to this.
I woke up one morning in tears, thinking about how disappointed I was with how my life was going, and I thought about how I could change it. When I was in the hospital, I made a list of everything I wanted to improve on. I wanted to learn as much about business as I could, do some sort of personal development each day such as reading or listening to a podcast, keep up with learning languages (at the time it was French), go back to singing which I had enjoyed for years, maintain my diet and get back into the gym without injuring myself.
That morning when I woke up, I remembered that list and pulled it up on my phone and started doing everything I had listed. I developed a morning routine – early morning yoga and meditation, followed by a 30 min run/jog with my puppy at the time. I had moved to a new place, so I wasn’t as concerned about anyone judging me based on how I was running. I then ate breakfast while listening to a podcast. The rest of the day, I immersed myself in business resources, I read personal development books, language books and I started looking into networking opportunities.
This one-day practice led to a continuous routine that I would keep and only alter the time of day depending on my schedule for that particular day. I was amazed at what happened next. My network expanded, and I met tons of like-minded men and women who loved my business idea and were there for support and collaborations.
I felt healthier than ever and met a nutritionist who helped me (and still does) with balancing my hormones through diet. I was able to return to school in January 2017 and I can gratefully say I’ll be graduating in just a few weeks. I started working a full-time job, sometimes 60+ hours a week and I managed the endometriosis and my pain.
Now I’m working a different job part-time, while focusing on my business the rest of the time. I also enrolled in singing classes and had the chance to sing on a stage after years just a few months ago. I was introduced to the world of public speaking and I’m now starting to share my story with more people as well as educate them about the importance of managing stress.
Being in a rut was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because I made the conscious decision to learn from it and pushed myself to grow, even if it felt uncomfortable. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come from that lost and uncertain woman that I was not too long ago. I feel strong, confident and motivated to be the best version of myself, and to help others do the same. You can do it too, and I want to share a few simple steps to do that.
1. Recognize where you are
Take some quiet time to sit and reflect on where you are in your life. Are you happy with your health? Your finances? Your friendships and relationship? What do you want to change? Who can help you in changing these things? By identifying these areas of your life and how you feel emotionally about each one, you can start to develop a plan to move you from where you are, to where you want to be.
2. Build your toolkit of resources
Just as I had used resources for personal development, you may need to do the same to get that push to keep going. Find books that resonate with you. Some of my current favourites are the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins and You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. Also look for online resources like podcasts and YouTube videos. I loved watching Ellen DeGeneres, which made me laugh a lot, and I listened to Tony Robbins, to remind me that I have it in me to keep going, no matter what life throws my way.
3. Ask for help
Change is something that will require external help, you can’t do it all on your own. Look for those in different industries that can help you. Maybe it’s a business mentor, a life coach, a therapist or a nutritionist.
4. Getting out of a rut isn’t an overnight process
In my case, I didn’t wake up one morning and everything changed. It took months, and lots of dedication and hard work. Don’t be hard on yourself if you forget to keep up a part of your routine or you feel down on a certain day. Just make the decision to keep going. Making small steps toward a goal will fuel you to keep going.
Now that you have some steps in place, make your list of the habits you would like to keep up, and do your best to stick to them. I promise that with consistent effort, you can and will get out of a rut, and live your life to the fullest.
Christina Paruag is the CEO/Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemEvolve. She’s currently also a breast cancer researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada. Christina is an advocate for women’s health which shines through in FemEvolve, a publication she launched in January 2018 that focuses on discussing women’s health and wellness from a scientific standpoint and living a balanced-life overall. This digital and print magazine opens up the dialogue about taboo topics and self-love to help women feel more confident in their inner and outer beauty and abilities.