I’ve had battles with my weight my entire life since I was a teenager. I’m an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. We came to the US when I was a teenager. I don’t know what it is about living here, but the food is different. A lot of people I know blew up like a balloon when they came here. I personally never had time to eat salad or home-cooked food in college, because I was always eating on the run, and busy getting to know about the food and culture that was available here. I gained a lot of weight, then had kids, and as I got older, it all started to bother me.
In the beginning, I just wanted to look better and wasn’t thinking about my health and wellness. When you’re young and nothing hurts, you do it to look better not for your health. When I was growing up, in school, having kids, and then getting my business on track, I wasn’t ever worried about my health. In my late thirties, it caught up to me. The weight caused other problems. My back started to hurt, due to the lifestyle I had as a lawyer: I was always sitting, in court, at a computer, in a meeting, or in my car. I started to try different solutions: I went to the chiropractor, went to the general practitioner. I got no long-term answers except to lose weight and take a pill or get a shot for pain. that’s what traditional medicine has for you. chiropractor stretches you out but not a long term solution.
☝ Try other exercises. I went on different diets, and with time, realized that it all needed to consist of eating a holistic diet with a lot of whole foods, meats, veggies, fruit, less processed, less carbs, home-cooked meals. I had to force myself to stop (for the most part) eating at restaurants with lots of sauces, overeating in restaurants — I realized that I can’t overeat as much at home.
As I said, it wasn’t just about losing weight. It was about regaining my strength and health, and I’ll explain why below. Eventually, I started to try types of exercise. I started with boxing, which I liked, but found too intense and didn’t want to hurt myself. I tried zoomba, tried working with a trainer, pilates, running. Running hurt my back and knees, so I stopped. I even tried fasting for days at a time, starving myself. I tried juicing and detox diets.
📅 Then, I realized that the only thing that works is changing your habits. Monday-Friday’s daily habits are the most important. The food in my fridge is most important. What you have near you, what you grab and eat on the go, that’s what you need to pay attention to. Even something as simple as cold cuts — I didn’t get rid of them, but now we buy things like chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef. I’m eating lots more vegetables, more protein. We got rid of bread. Instead of regular pasta, my family sticks to plant-based alternatives like sweet potato or zucchini noodles. I still eat rice but try to do a mix of wild rice and regular, I maintain portion control.
Because my back was in pain, I really decided I need to regain control and fully embrace taking care of myself. I added yoga into my wellness practice. I used to have a hard relationship with it because the first few times, I thought it was too slow. I felt like I was not doing anything and found it very frustrating. I remember standing in the studio one day, I was just leaning over with a straight back, and there was a little old lady next to me doing everything perfectly. I was crying from frustration and back pain. This was the A-ha! moment for me. I realized that this old lady had been taking great care of herself for her whole life. It was an eye-opener for me.
🧘♀️ So, I got a personal trainer to get into yoga. I took things very slowly. We started working together when I was at the peak of my back pain. We did very slow, very small, deliberate things. We started at the beginning. I was constantly fixing my posture. I was always worried that with a compromised back, I was going to make it worse. She’d fix my posture. slowly started to do more complicated things.
Next, I got an additional food/exercise coach and we started to track my calories. I started to write down everything I was eating. I saw what I was eating and grabbing and at what times; that’s how I kicked a lot of habits.
🚶 It’s been a long journey. Now, I walk 4-5 times a week, at least 6K steps a day. I do activities on weekends that involve walking and moving around. I do yoga 3-4 times a week. Some days, I also add weight training. I’m building full-body range motion. Slowly but surely, my body has transformed. I am not yet at my ideal weight, but I am seeing great improvements with toning, figure, energy levels.
What I do at work is meaningful for people. I work on my wellness so that I can be active during the day and present for my clients. I am changing and saving lives by helping men, women and children get asylum in America, to leave abusive relationships, and to make a better life for themselves. I bring families together that have been split apart by immigration policies. I am improving my body so that I can continue feeling better physically, emotionally, and mentally. This makes me present for my clients and for my family.
👨💻 I also started blogging about my journey. I realized that everyone is struggling with their health. It’s hard in American society. People put to sleep and health last. In European countries, they put to rest, personal life, sleep, health first. It’s part of their culture. In the US, we are overworked and sleeping too little, and it’s a badge of honor/ It should not be. It should be something you are NOT proud of. Doctors and medicine got us to a point where my children’s generation will live 100 years. Let’s make sure they do not live in pain, relying on medication or going to the doctor once a week in old age.
I have three beautiful daughters. I want to take care of them, and leave them with a legacy. If I’m an old, sick person or die young from heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure (I see my parents struggle with it) – what kind of parent would I be? I would be irresponsible! I don’t want my kids to inherit a burden of a parent to take care of.
💪 I want to be at my best so that I can empower them in their careers. I want to prevent a cycle of them not taking care of themselves and leaving that burden on their own children. I struggle all the time. If you didn’t come from a healthy family, a family that didn’t guilt you into eating, one that encouraged exercise, keeping healthy food at home, retraining yourself as an adult is really hard. Of all the jobs I had, this is the hardest. It is a job. I have to retrain myself to be healthy. It’s a job. I have to have a conversation with myself every single day. I look at pictures to stay motivated.
💦 I constantly remind myself and my kids to drink water. Nobody did that for me growing up. I don’t blame my parents but if you’re not used to living healthy, it’s a long list of habits that you don’t even think about. Having healthy snacks. Vacations with activities where you move all the time. Weekend activities like walking, hiking, running, whatever it is. It’s not genetics, it’s how you were raised.
It’s hard when you’re an overworked mother, own a business, have deadlines, and are going through pain. But I want to fight through it and feel good about these accomplishments.
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