Meet Pratyusha Pilla, our newest Texas Pulse Blog guest writer! Check out her first post after the break.
Hello! My name is Pratyusha Pilla, and I am a recent graduate from the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, currently attending the UNT Health Science Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences to pursue a Masters in Medical Sciences. I am an alumna of Alpha Phi Omega, a volunteer with Mental Health America, and serve on the Board of Directors of Atlantis Educational Services, Inc.
I aspire to enter the field of medicine and help redefine health. Rather than looking at health as a lack of symptoms, I want to help people live lives that are to their highest physical, mental and emotional capacities while focusing on overall well-being. My journey to a healthier life was set on track by my miniature dachshund Luke. Just getting out every day to walk and having the unconditional love and support of my four legged best friend caused me to take another look at how I was living and make a change for the better. I want to provide a real look at what this journey is like. Everybody has a unique story, but I hope that being honest about the struggles and pitfalls alongside the success and triumphs can really drive home a) that the efforts are meaningful and worthwhile, and b) that our failures and setbacks teach us and make us stronger.
Just remember - every accomplishment starts with an attempt. So attempt to live a healthier life, to care for yourself the way that you deserve to be cared for, and to love yourself.
Losing Changed My Life For the Better
I lost my sedentary lifestyle.
I lost my crippling stress.
I lost weight. I lost my debilitating anxiety.
I lost my denial of the fact that mental health IS actually important and that I was struggling to get through the day.
I lost my disregard for my health.
Today, I am a healthier version of who I was. This didn’t happen through ridiculous crash diets (you think I can live on HOW MANY calories???) or miracles. It happened by finding love. I re-discovered my love of dance, I found a new love in cooking, I fell in love with a puppy and brought him home the day I met him.
The first thing to address was the root of many issues I faced. I started to see a therapist who helped me learn to deal with my stress and anxiety. Let me tell you all, these issues are not just in our heads. They manifest physiologically and impact our overall wellbeing. It’s important to take care of ourselves on all planes - physical and mental. My issue was a cycle of binge eating and then avoiding food based on my stress levels. Learning to handle my mental outlook through coping mechanisms put me back in control.
I learned to actually use the kitchen that was neglected in favor of Taco Bell and McDonalds runs. I started to actually save money by eating out less. My level went from burnt easy mac to delicious meals (if I say so myself). I’m eating so much healthier, and I have shed weight without starving myself. Cooking has become a relaxing activity for me, where I can take a break from thinking about graduate school and what I can possibly do afterwards with my degree. I make food that is healthy and that I look forward to eating. I get excited about the things I make, and that feeling makes me want to cook even more.
I got back into dancing and began taking my puppy on long walks, carrying him home when he got tuckered out. Somehow being active and exerting energy makes me feel like I have more energy during the day. It gives me this vivacious feeling that motivates me to keep up the routine. Now - reality check - I am by NO MEANS a gym rat. You will not see me running on the treadmill at top speed for hours. But I live an active life by taking multiple walks a day and practicing dance and yoga. I’m a student and can tell you that it is really hard to motivate myself to get moving sometimes. I’m used to sitting in front of a laptop for hours during the day. But after completing some physical activity, I come back to working feeling invigorated. I incorporated physical activity into my daily routine as study breaks, so that I can cover both ends - finishing my school work and staying away from becoming sedentary.
With these simple activities, I felt myself beginning to become stronger. It wasn’t just the visible change of becoming slimmer and more toned, it was a change in attitude. I was living a healthier life by making changes that I ENJOYED. I didn’t feel like I was trudging through the day, snacking on cardboard-tasting snacks and dreaming of pizza. I feel eager to come home to eat a home cooked meal and to take my puppy out on an adventure. Making changes for the better can be hard when we start out, but if we choose the right changes, we can become healthier and happier at the same time. We become healthier in doing things that make us happy. And this helps KEEP us healthy.
With the losses that I have gainfully made, I wish I could say that I’m a brand new, sparkly, and perfect version of myself. But that would be a lie. This isn’t a “new year, new me” story, because that isn’t how things worked out for me. I didn’t magically transition into a kale-eating Instagram fitness model. I had to learn to prioritize my health. It was a challenge every day to change my outlook when I started out. I still fall off of the wagon. Let’s face it - we live in a world that goes at a breakneck pace and it’s ridiculously easy to fall behind. One cheat day turns to two, three, weeks and months. But we still get up every time and keep pushing. To be better, to love ourselves, to treat ourselves the way we deserve to be treated. Making changes in our lives can be so simple. We can take steps to becoming better and the change becomes enthralling. Something as simple as swapping out soda for flavored water or dropping the cigarette out of your morning routine can make a difference. Making that first step begins the natural progression of feeling better. The changes won’t happen over night, but they are more than worthwhile. “To err is human,” but so is “to improve,” “to continue onward,” and “to become stronger.”
Look out for more posts from Pratyusha on policies to make the healthy choice, the easy choice in our communities!