Let it Out: Paulina's Story

 
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The Let it Out series is an eye-opening look into "what we're going through" while we're still going through it. PAULINA opens up ABOUT CARBS, emotional eating, AND the THINGS THAT COST HER IN HER personal QUEST FOR SUCCESs. 


BY PAULINA O'KIEFFE

When other people introduce me to their friends or colleagues, it's often followed by a long list of all the current hustles I am engaged in, completed by "and she's a mom!"

The usual response to this is often met with a look that is 50 per cent impressed and 50 per cent overwhelmed, followed by the ever-burning question: How do you do it?

My answer (most of the time): I don’t know. 

It's true. I don’t know how I often balance being a performance artist, arts educator, director of a non-profit and owner of a couple of businesses, while being a wife and mother trying to hold it down at home, all while trying to stay fly as hell. (Phew!) What I do know is that I get it done. The cost of getting it done?  Well, that’s an entirely different conversation.


My coping mechanism of choice has always been food. Carb-filled, sugar-loaded, get-you-on-a-quick high-before-you-come-crashing-down-again food.

I have always battled with mental health issues, namely anxiety and depression. I didn’t always know I was battling these things as I didn’t really look into my mental health until I was 25. However, in hindsight, I recall these moods where I would just be sad or anxious for no apparent reason. Also, in hindsight, I realized that my coping mechanism of choice has always been food. Carb-filled, sugar-loaded, get-you-on-a-quick-high-before-you-come-crashing-down-again food. When I was younger it was less noticeable because I was active with the metabolism of a race horse. However, by the time I was 20 I realized that I was starting to gain weight and it wasn’t falling off as easily.

By the time I was 25, I realized that not only was I gaining weight, the food choices I was making were starting to affect my internal health and my mental health. By this time though it was too late, and I was literally using emotional eating as a crutch to get through life decisions that challenged me on a regular basis. I didn’t know what the issue was or how to stop it.

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When I gave birth to my first daughter in 2012, I was 26 and for the first time in my life I was forced to do something other than work. No more reports, research, performance gigs and workshops which meant no more drive thrus, and no more excuses for having to eat on the road or in my car. Maternity leave meant that I had to take the time to be aware that what I was putting into my body affects my child, but it also gave me the time I needed to focus on myself, too. Maternity leave gave me the space to change my workout and eating habits. I lost 50 pounds over the course of my maternity leave and felt stronger and happier. I was sleeping much better and felt the most confident I had in a minute.


My struggle with weight isn’t about feeling ashamed of my body or not loving myself, it is about realizing what my success is costing me.

Fast forward to today, one more child later, and a whole list of side hustles and a full-time job and I have gained back about 60 pounds. My weight and my mental health are constantly in flux. My struggle with weight isn't about feeling ashamed of my body or not loving myself, it is about realizing what my success is costing me. Yes, I do it all, but a lot of the time it's at the expense of my own health, and my weight is just the visual reminder that it' caused by a compulsive need to eat my feelings, whether it be anxiety, depression, stress, sadness or even happiness — most of which is connected to work.

It is now 2018, and once again, one of my New Year’s goals is to lose weight. Not because I feel intimidated by society’s beauty standards (I know I am fly as hell), but because beyond the generational wealth I am trying to create for my family, at the end of the day, I think they'd rather have a healthy mom who is around to see all of their milestones.  So, to the women who do it all (and are a boss at doing so), I say this: make sure that your health is not the ultimate cost to your success. Whether it is eating properly to lose weight or gain weight, meditation, time to de-stress, or just learning how to turn your phone off at night and be more available to yourself or your family... do what you need to do to make sure that you are alive and healthy when you finally make it to the top.


Do what you need to do to make sure that you are alive and healthy when you finally make it to the top.

As for me, March 1, starts day one at another attempt to put my own health first whilst building my empire.  Feel free to follow me on Instagram and keep me accountable, like all my real friends who yell at me in my DMs when they can see I am working too hard and neglecting my own self-care.

I promise I will appreciate you for it.

Thank you Paulina! You can follow her journey here.


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Add your perspective to the Let it Out series! Over the next couple of months, we'll be exploring the theme of identity together. We invite you to share your story. It's a cathartic process that just may help someone who's going through it too. Fill out the form below to be featured.

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Marijke Kailah