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A letter to my 20 year old self.

Dearest Sal,

You feel pretty average about life right now. You're completing an expensive degree that will turn out to be pretty irrelevant, but know that it's a rich life experience. Granted, not one that you'd choose to live through again, but it will add a log to your fire of resilience. And shit, will you need that fire for what lays ahead.

Life hasn't been all that kind to you. You got terribly beaten + bullied at school. Your mum had severe mental health problems that put you onto suicide watch from the age of 14. You found out your dad was having an affair before your mum even knew. You were sexually abused by someone you trusted, and subsequently (and confusingly) wanted to make excuses for them. The list goes on and on. Right now you're still processing this shit (and the rest of it), but you'll look back in 5 years and be super grateful. You don't crumble and let it consume you. You take a deep breath, stick two fingers up to the world and say 'fuck this, I'm ready to make new stories'. What happened to you will not define you. What is about to happen to you, on the other hand, actually does. It defines you in the most amazing way.

In a few years, a boyfriend will pressure you into travelling Australia with him. It will turn out to be the best life-decision you ever made. He'll also tell you to start a recipe website to organise your thoughts and ideas, which you really can't fathom at the time. Ignore yourself (just this once) and do what he says. You cannot possibly comprehend what this site will do for your future self. It will lead you to a level of excitement, happiness and contentment in life that you've yet to experience. It's fucking epic here.

Don't worry so much about what people think of you. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself. Your body will be there for you. It will look after you if you look after it back. Contrary to your belief, it's not some Ferrari that needs constant fine-tuning to be the best-in-class. Feed it good food, move your body, and don't panic if you have a questionable sausage or cookie every now and then. Understand that food is as much about the social experience and ENJOYMENT as it is fuel. In time you'll learn to love your fabulous bod, and not because of what it looks like to the outside world. Trust me when I say, that's a good thing.

Share yourself with the world - your knowledge, your thoughts, and most importantly, your mistakes. It will be uncomfortable a lot of the time, but it somehow makes you one hell of an inspiring storyteller. It legitimately helps people feel better about their own day-to-day, which in itself, is worth everything. It gives you an incredible sense of fulfilment. It makes your life purposeful.

You'll soon realise that 'whatever you can dream, you can achieve', and other such corny quotes will actually hold true meaning in your life.  Take every opportunity that your gut tells you to. You'll quickly grow and adapt from making lots of expensive, silly decisions. That's totally cool - you get the opportunity to share those mistakes with thousands of people so that they don't do the same dumb shit. You'll learn to do awesome things just by throwing yourself in the deep end and hoping you float. You do, by the way... You float.

There will be some heartbreaks along the way. Some people who come into your life to teach you things you didn't know about yourself. You will be cheated on, and he'll make you feel unworthy - but that's a lesson that you won't allow to play out more than once. You'll walk away with your head held high - each time more independent and more courageous in surrounding yourself with only those who lift you higher.

You're going to blossom into a confident, strong, independent woman who truly loves her life. You'll run your own show. You'll live in an incredible country in the sunshine by one of the world's most famous harbours, and watch the sun set behind the Opera House most nights of the week. You inspire people to live better, work smarter and believe that anything is possible, all from the comfort of your pyjamas. You rise up against all odds, and you do good.

Know that every unpleasant experience in the past and waiting for you in the future comes with a silver living - no matter quite how shitty they seem at the time. Those nights when you have crippling panic attacks, cry for hours into your pillow, and even mindlessly consider about ending it all, is your darkness being carved. This happens so that when you get to the light, it is so much sweeter. You're so much more appreciative. You hit a point when you actually pinch yourself every day in awe, asking 'is this REALLY my amazing life?'.

Believe me, it's fucking worth it. Just hold on tight.

Sal, 31.



NB: If you feel you are in crisis, please call Lifeline 24 hour crisis support - 13 11 14.


Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also works as a commercial food photographer and stylist, is studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and is the author of two cookbooks: Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017) and Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch, 2019).

1 Comment
  1. Wow Sally this really tugged at my heart. You have been an inspiration to me when I came across your blog and work a few months ago and I respect how honest & vulnerable you are. Everything you have built through this business of yours truly reflects YOU and it’s just so freaking rad. I wish I had a bigger more fancy word to say LOL but you are simply an amazing human doing amazing things, THANK you for encouraging others in this space to do the same!

    I just started my own little wellness platform and studied nutrition science in college / in a dietetic internship now to become an Registered Dietitian / Sports Dietitian so your passions are truly relatable to me and I just love hearing about your journey, it makes me believe in myself and things I want to achieve, the people I to inspire and impact as well 🙂

    Okay I will stop gushing! Just wanted to let you know and I’m inspired to write a little letter to my old struggling self as my 25th birthday approaches…

    Thanks Sally!!!

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