My Vegan Voyage

by Athena Iglesias

With today being day one of my second year of sobriety I thought I’d get really real about my own personal Vegan Voyage. I’m sharing this info to hopefully help others.

Ok, so I grew up a competitive figure skater, my coach actually lived with me for a bit. In Elementary years-High School I was waking up and going to practice before school, training after school, and most weekends. I had an insane drive as a child to succeed, to compete, I had a passion for pushing my body. With that drive I did develop body image issues and became intensely critical of myself. After numerous injuries and years of physical therapy/conventional medicine not working, I was told I could not continue competing at the high level I was and quit. This world of training and being active and competing was really all I had known, it was what my everyday revolved around. I had been quite sheltered in my world of spending every waking moment in an ice rink from 7-15. So when that all ended I was severely depressed, bored, angry and to top it all off I was a teenager…SCARY.

Angry and rebellious and bored and not having a tight family support system I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Then, I began traveling the road of self destruction at blazing speed. I was just so mad at my body for not being able to keep up with what I wanted it to do and as it turns out I was/am an addict. I pushed my body in other ways now, by putting dangerous combinations of substances in my body and usually not eating…because the drugs kept me from feeling hungry and I always saw myself as being “bigger”anyway. I kept it pretty quiet and was a functioning addict. Only those closest to me saw the real darkness I lived with. I finally quit hard drugs around 20 years old but was very heavily drinking. I was always, always sick. Stomach issues, joint issues, lung issues, gaining weight, not to mention the mental guilt and emotional mess I was. I finally got sick of feeling sick all the time and decided to begin to change my life. I began doing yoga then I started running. I was warned by many health professionals about how I shouldn’t run or do much of anything really, but I was determined. I was never a big meat eater and always an animal lover. I began researching ultra runners and found out that many were vegan! I HAD to make the change! I also began receiving acupuncture regularly. I had A LOT of blocks to move through and personal issues to work though and I am still a work in progress. I was drinking off and on. That was the hardest piece to remove from my life. I did start feeling better and better and getting more and more active and more proactive for my own health. It’s been a painful, lonely, joyous, stumbling at times, heart breaking struggle. I fell down A LOT but I always got back up.I FINALLY stopped drinking 100%. Pouring myself into Veganism felt so right and true to me down to my soul. My love for all life and being able to express that and live that has been a huge healing factor for me as well as understanding what being an addict really means. I became a personal trainer to help others along their journey and now I am clean and sober at 31 and hiking mountains, snowboarding, throwing around heavy weights… I feel like I have my life back! I’m free! I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do..of actually enjoying life..and helping others see that there is a way out of the darkness. Being a part of Team Plantbuilt I hope I can do just that…the journey continues…

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