What Going Vegan Taught Me About Work-Life Balance

I’ve been a vegetarian before. I don’t eat that much cheese and after a couple rounds of Whole30, I can’t look at eggs the same way ever again. Heart disease, A-Fib, high cholesterol run on both sides of my family. Couple all that with the overwhelming sense of impending doom related to climate change (eliminating animal products from your diet reduces your carbon footprint), I had plenty of reasons to consider going vegan. One day, I just pulled the trigger and went vegan, cold tofurkey.

Fast forward two weeks and I felt incredible. I thought I’d be hangry, bloated from carbs, and craving a filet. I wasn’t. I had more energy, my skin was clearer, and my pants fit better. I didn’t crave cheese or meat or butter or eggs. I actually enjoyed pizza without cheese. I was amazed at how little I missed it. I was astounded at how great I felt.

By this point, you’re probably thinking what in the world does this actually have to do with work-life balance? Here’s what:

We don’t realize how shitty something makes us feel until we stop doing it.

I probably have a sensitivity to dairy and I don’t really like meat. Yet I didn’t realize these things, until I stopped doing them. That’s probably the case for a lot of things in our lives. They don’t give us joy, we don’t really like doing them, they make us feel downright shitty – yet we don’t realize how crappy we feel because we’re too desensitized to the discomfort and pain. We’re so used to the hustle, the stress, and the feeling of never enough time, we don’t realize how bad it really is.

As women, we’re constantly faced with guilt of never doing enough, never being enough, that we find ourselves saying “yes” to way too much. We say yes to making snack bags that look like butterflies for soccer practice, when it would be easier to bring an economy sized carton of goldfish and a pre-assembled fruit tray from Costco. We say yes to meeting a friend for a drink who’s having a rough time, when we really want to be horizontal in our bed recharging from a hard week at 8 p.m. We say “yes” to way to much stuff – stuff that doesn’t even fill our bucket.

We don’t even realize how crappy we feel.

That is until we decide to stop doing certain things. Until we decide to start saying “no” a little bit more.

I want you to find better balance. I want you to feel good. I want you to start saying “no”. I started saying “no” more and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t just start saying “no” to blts and nachos, though. I started saying “no” to the things I didn’t want in my life anymore – things I knew were making me feel pretty shitty.

I think there’s a lot we say “yes” to when we really want to say, “no.” I think there’s a lot of things we do – and we don’t need to do. The reality is that I started saying “no” more about a year ago. I said “no” to the constant work travel and “yes” to traveling – on my terms. I said “no” to other commitments during the tiny window of time I get to see my kids each night. I said “no” to working late and missing important life events.

I said “no” to the life I was living. I started saying “yes” to build the life that I wanted.

I started saying “yes” to being present and showing up for my family and friends. I said “yes” investing in my female friendships and “yes” giving my time to causes I care about. I said “yes” to building a career I was passionate about. I said “yes” to beans transformed into chicken nuggets and “cheese” made from cashews.

Was I afraid? Heck yes. I was afraid I’d miss the travel. I was afraid I’d lose ground professionally. I was afraid I’d lose my identity. I was afraid I was making a terrible mistake (the vegan thing, too). The reality is that I feel more myself than I ever have before. I didn’t realize how shitty I felt, until I started saying “no” to the things I didn’t want to do and “yes” to the things I felt myself missing out on.

I’m not trying to boast. I’m definitely not perfect and boasting is not at all my style. I tell you this because I tried something that worked for me. I tried saying “no” to some things – and it worked pretty well. Was it hard? Hell. Yes. Being vegan is hard. Saying “no” to friends, my boss, clients, is WAY harder.

Was it worth it? Hell “YES”.

The question now is, “what will you start saying ‘no’ to?”

Until we break more glass…