Fall Foliage. Photo by Kimberly Vardeman. https://tinyurl.com/b73zhjax

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Change: Bringing Us Back to Who We Were Meant to Be

Change. Transitions. If you asked me my thoughts on change ten years ago, I would have quickly confided, “I hate change!” and pledged my allegiance to my predictable and expected routine: 5:45 am alarm, gym, hurried breakfast, coffee-to-go, mad-dash commute on the New York City subway, and a long day at a stressful job in finance. Business trips to London. Too much wine every weekend. Rinse, Repeat.

I was successful, I was hitting my goals, I was really proud of myself.

But I was also really, really tired.

Fast forward a decade, and change has shaped my life for the better—in more ways than I could have even imagined back then.

Perhaps it all started with learning to love the coming of fall. I think we’ve all gravitated toward certain seasons since we were children, and I’d always identified with spring (birthday! flowers!) and summer (beach! summer camp!). But the shorter days and falling leaves? It all seemed to signify a moving on, a certain kind of death, an underlying force of change.

Years ago, I started asking my friends who loved the fall, why did they love this season so much? I heard answers like “the fall fashion is way better, I love trips to the pumpkin patch, the cooler air is so refreshing, I just love scarves! Etc etc.” Hmmm, maybe my fall cheerleaders were on to something.

I took a couple of years and challenged myself to embrace the autumnal season. I bought new fall sweaters, I started taking day trips out of New York City to hike among the crisp leaves, I visited my former college campus in Vermont for peak foliage, long runs in the hills, strong local beers, and bowls of steamy chili.

Perhaps the changing of the seasons wasn’t so bad. Perhaps I could learn to embrace it. Perhaps we all need to shed our old leaves, hibernate for winter, and grow anew the next spring.

I quit my job in finance in 2014 to go to nutrition school and start my own health coaching business. The leap was a big one—I even surprised myself with the sudden change.

In a way, I’m thankful my prior go-go-go life led to burnout because it forced me to make the hard choices quickly and choose to rebuild again, a forest fire of sorts.

Since then, I’ve built a thriving business working one on one with clients to optimize their nutrition and focus on fitness and relieving stress with self-care. I wrote my first book, Self-Care in the City and went on a book tour.

I learned that change can be a really good thing. We can shift, we can evolve, we can grow within the seasons of our life, and shape ourselves into the person we always wanted to be.

I always ask my clients, “What did you love to do when you were a child?”

Was it dancing? Was it art? Did you love reading and playing outside?

Do more of those things as an adult.

Our youngest selves had most of the answers already. Come back to what you loved to do before the world taught you what you had to be.

Often, you come back to yourself.

I teach my clients to be their own coach—to continually look at areas of their life where they want to shift or tweak, or grow, perhaps with the changing of the seasons. Witnessing clients transform into their dreamed versions of themselves is one of the greatest honors of my career.

See—the need for change often starts as a whisper, a hint, a suggestion, a yearning. And if you don’t listen, it starts to roar.

Fast forward to several more years of living life in New York City, I’d finally figured out how to cope with living in an urban environment and being healthy and happy (after all, I’d just written a book about it!).

But as my book, Self-Care in the City, neared its publication date in 2018, and the accompanying press and marketing appexed, the undercurrent of all my personal thoughts were getting married to my then boyfriend, having a baby, and moving to the suburbs!

Change was calling and this time, I was ready to listen.

We got engaged and married in the same year; we decided to buy and build a house in the Hudson Valley; and we got pregnant! And nine months after our wedding, our beautiful baby boy was born.

My life looks very different from the one ten years ago. I’ve traded in 5:45 a.m. alarms for toddler cries, I’ve swapped hurried breakfasts for messy highchairs, and a mad-dash commute for life as a full-time mom.

Never would I have thought that if you pay attention to nature and learn to listen to your own self, you can keep evolving, changing, and growing into the next version of your own life. As we shed our past selves, just like the leaves of fall, we become, more truly, ourselves.



5 Self-Care Tips for Transitioning to Fall

Warming Foods—Include nourishing, warming food to help your body adjust to the colder temps—think soups, stews, fall veggies such as squash, pumpkin, kale, and cauliflower, bulk up salads with heartier ingredients like sweet potato, and sprinkle cinnamon (a warming spice) on oatmeal and smoothies.

Walk in Nature—There is no better way to appreciate the autumnal leaves than to take a stroll or gear up for a weekend hike.

Schedule in “Me” Time—Back to school and supercharged September and October work seasons can leave you depleted—break out your calendar and plan a day (or even an hour!) to do something just for you to recharge. When it’s on the calendar, you’re way more likely to follow through.

Change up Your Decor—Take 10 minutes and walk through your home. Is there anything summery you can put in the closet until next spring? Buy a few mini-pumpkins and bring the fall season inside.

Take an Epsom Salt Bath—A hot bath and cups and cups of epsom salts is a surefire way to relax, de-stress, and increase your magnesium intake, a vital, calming mineral. Pick up a non-scented version at the pharmacy for a fragrance-free and cost-effective, healthy soak.



If you want to hear more from Michelle, check out her Instagram @michellefitvista, her book Self-Care in the City, and her story, blog, and newsletter at www.FitVista.com. She is currently on a career pause and lives with her husband and young son in Sleepy Hollow, New York.