Whether through physical symptoms or unwanted inches, our body is always speaking to us.
This may be a new concept to you if you are someone who believes in the outside in approach to health or weight loss. This also may ruffle a few feathers, and you may even disagree with what I am about to share with you – but I am OK with that. I am OK with that because my desire to spread my hard earned wisdom and message is more important to me than pleasing everyone. The ones who are meant to be transformed by these ideas, will be, the ones that aren’t will probably not even finish this whole post. My approach and style is not for everyone, and I am also OK with that. But the ones who resonate with my message, and experience how I work, they feel like they have come home to themselves when they step into my office. Those are the ones I do this work for. The ones who are hungry for unconventional, they want something more, they know there has got to be more to this life. Those are the ones I write for, and hope that those that need my message most, will become forever changed. Even the smallest little shift in perception can create a miracle.
I also avoid the using the word ‘diet’ as it pertains to a strict, regimented, calorie restricted, and pre-portioned ‘plans’ and meal replacements – basically any temporary eating plans designed to lose weight. When I use it in my writing, I am referring to typical eating habits – I do not believe in 10 day, 21 day, or any miracle “diets” that are aimed and marketed for weight loss, unless they are intended to become an overall, forever lifestyle change. Permanent dietary, balanced nutrition changes for health, not weight loss. Not only that, but we have to deal with the emotional reasons why we eat to the point of becoming overweight in the first place, and most diet plans don’t cover what to do when the urge to emotional eat or binge strikes.
It happens from the inside out NOT the outside in.
I am also not saying that you should try and lose weight if you are truly happy with where you are at. That is why I focus on the health aspect and effects of unhealthy weight (meaning body fat), because the weight is only a symptom of a bigger underlying problem. Often when we address those root issues, the weight will resolve itself permanently -if our focus is on creating health.
In our fast -paced, speed of light, technologically driven society, many of us are set up to seek the quickest option to solve our problems. In a day and age where we can find out about a book and 2 minutes later be reading it on our Kindle or listening to it on Audible, purchase online courses right on the spot, and all of the instant this and that we are inundated with, we are looking for the next quick fix to our health issues, weight loss, and parts of our appearance that we don’t like, we are desperate to try anything to correct what we don’t like reflected back to us. We want the next quick fix, magic bullet, and we want it now.
A little about my story:
I have struggled with disordered eating, and body image issues for most of my life. Starting around the age of 16, I struggled with anorexia and began restricting my eating. I recall that I didn’t like myself or my appearance. I see now that this manifested because I felt a lack of control over my life, and I was in deep emotional pain and didn’t know what to do about it.
In my adolescent years my mother disappeared unexpectedly one day, and not long afterwards my grandmother (who I had a closer relationship with than my mother) slowly declined in her health, until she passed away as I held her hand one dark and horrible day. At this point, I slipped into a deep depression, which preceded my disordered eating habits, alcohol binges, and partying for several years.
I have carried these and other traumas I experienced as a little girl, with me, inside of my cells tissues and soul for many years.. I didn’t know what to do with the pain back then, I was just a kid, so I used food and the hatred I felt for myself and my appearance to take over my life.
It wasn’t until my daughters were born, and I felt even more lack of control over my life, and the stress of caring for a toddler and a newborn, as well as my then adolescent son was more than I could handle some days. I used food restriction, frequent cleanse diets, and managing and controlling my food intake as my addiction. I would go between unreasonably strict ‘diets’ where I convinced myself I was doing for my health (but felt anything but healthy). I would swing back and forth from restricting to compulsive binge eating, to distract myself from the pain and stress I was feeling, which I see now, mirrored the battle and chaos that was going on within.
My battle with food, and my health, was mirroring the battle I was fighting within myself.
I share this story to give you a little background as to what I have struggled with in my life when it comes to my journey back to balance and health. I struggled with all of this, along with depression and anxiety that kept me in a self-created cage for too many precious years of my life. Eventually my body started to scream at me, the biggest way it got my attention was through complete Adrenal Burnout. I had to listen, I had no choice.
Through many years of working on myself, and integrating all of the aspects of health in all areas, I have reached the point today where I feel so sure of what I am about to share with you, that I now work with women using my specialized integrative approach, who are struggling emotionally. Almost without fail, when I assess these women, their repressed and unprocessed pain and emotions are showing up in their physical body as illness, or other symptoms. The mind and body are not separate.
Back in 2008, I became a Certified Weight Trainer thinking this would be a good side job while raising my kids, and since I was pumped about health and wellness, this would be a good avenue to take. I worked in the fitness industry for awhile with the intention to become a Personal Trainer, until I started to realize that there is no way I could teach people to push past their body limitations, and exercise like crazy, when I didn’t truly believe this was necessary, or even healthy.
Telling someone who has adrenal fatigue, or other health issues that are already stressing out their body to push harder, faster, and longer did not feel right to me. “Is this really healthy”? I would wonder. I felt something huge was missing from the picture, looking at it from this one sided dimension.
I believe that exercise should be enjoyable, and part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Intensive workouts are truly enjoyable for many, although this is not my style or the way I like to stay fit. If you have adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalance, anemia, or other chronic health condition, be mindful about high intensity workouts, and how you feel afterwards. If you feel drained for hours afterwards, this is an indication you have overdone it!
I believe we need to move more and sit less and aim to stay active as a daily practice.
I have seen people take exercise to the extreme. Intensive multiple hours of daily exercise, meal planning and portion planning, no carb days etc.. can be another mask for disordered eating. I am saying this only because that was the case for me. And if you still don’t believe that ‘health addiction’ is a real thing, I urge you to read the book “Health Food Junkies” by Steven Bratman M.D. This book was a pivotal turning point for me in my unhealthy addiction to health food obsession. If you are a Mom with daughters, I double urge you to read this book.
The bottom line is that we need to be clear about the distinction between healthy and unhealthy. It’s knowing whether our eating and exercise plans are being used as a way to feel in control over our life to make up for other areas we feel a lack of control, or to feel important or valuable. If your identity is attached to being the “clean-eating fit person” who only eats certain things- this would be a red flag. Are you using your food and exercise obsession to distract you from other areas of your life that you don’t want to look at?
It is about the relationship we have with food, and body, and if these behaviors are coming from self – love and wanting to get healthy to feel better- and we are enjoying the process – that is very different. If there is balance, and room for treats, and so called “bad foods” in moderation, if we can let go of the need for perfection, throw away the scales, and the need for only indulging on ‘cheat days’ and just live our lives to the fullest, this is what true health and balance is all about! It doesn’t have to be so darned complicated.
Shift your mindset to viewing healthy food and daily exercise as a way to keep your body in top condition for disease prevention and staying optimally healthy and agile for as long as you live – this is the goal of a person with healthy mindset toward nutrition and exercise.
There are many people out there living off of rice and chicken breasts, working out intensively 5 of more days every week, who are still overweight. This has got to tell us something!
There is something else going on. Whether it is a hormone imbalance, food intolerances and inflammation, digestive disorders, thyroid issue, stress or adrenal dysfunction, emotional ‘weight’, or compulsive -emotional eating, there is always something else going on underneath, that the perfect diet and exercise plan will simply never erase.
If your body is under stress, internally through inflammation or other imbalances as I mentioned, your life is in turmoil, your marriage is falling apart, your kids are struggling or stressing you out, you make no time for yourself, money is tight, and on top of all that (no surprise here) you are feeling like sh*t, high intensity workouts put further strain on an already stressed out body!
You will be erasing the positive effects that exercise is supposed to have simply because you have overdone it, and put your body goes into the stress-zone, which causes the adrenal glands to pump out cortisol (stress hormone) like crazy.
This is why some people are able to improve their eating habits, increase their exercise and have a trim physique and good health, and some are not. If you have other stuff going on, you must deal with it – or you will be forever frustrated.
I recall talking to a woman who was a regular at a fitness center I used to work at, she would tell me how she worked out hard every day, high intensity, long and sweaty, was eating a crazy low amount of calories, and couldn’t drop the weight no matter what she did. You may know of someone like this, or perhaps you are someone like this. These people report things like “I eat well, I exercise 2 hours every day, and can’t lose an inch”
The other side to this coin, is to remember that just because you are not overweight, does not mean you are healthy internally. There are many skinny, fit, yet unhealthy people out there. Health is not the absence of disease but the presence of vitality.
The bottom line, health is not created through one or two things that we do, but through an overall lifestyle change. It’s looking at all 6 dimensions that make up a large part of our health, or dis-ease if they are out of balance, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially and relationally. How are all of these areas in your life? What needs attention? Are you depressed, drinking alcohol every night to numb out, eating late at night to distract yourself from your pain, how’s your marriage or primary relationship? Do you love your work or is it a place you feel stressed out constantly and unfulfilled? How are your finances? Is there something there that you need to put attention toward, perhaps speaking to a financial advisor, reading books like Money A Love Story to move through your financial blocks and limiting beliefs?
Yes, I know what you might be thinking right now, this does sound like a lot of work, it IS a lot of work. I can understand why finding that magic pill, supplement, power-shake or exercise regime would feel so much easier, than actually having to look at our entire life. But I am here to tell you that if you are experiencing health issues of any kind, including stubborn weight (which is not the problem but the symptom of something else going on within) you will make very little progress, if you ignore certain areas. Your body will eventually start speaking to you, trying to get your attention.
Stress from ignoring the things that need our attention eventually creates illness in the body.
If you are experiencing health issues such as digestion problems, hormone imbalance, decreased immune function with frequent illness, migraines/ headaches, fatigue, PMS, skin problems including acne and rashes, fat storage around the middle that won’t budge, these are all signs that something internal is going on. No cream, pill or potion will heal the root cause. It may mask it for a little while but it won’t go away, although it may manifest somewhere else in the body until we start to heal the root cause.
If I could boil all of this down to one thing that is at the center of everything I have just written here, it is unprocessed, repressed emotion, and chronic, out-of-control stress eventually creates dis-ease and weight gain!
So, whatever you are doing toward health, whether this includes losing weight or not, you must do whatever you can to manage and reduce your stress – internally and externally. Decide to do the emotional work required to move on from the past. Gather your holistic health care team, work with a Naturopath, Counsellor, Financial advisor, Massage Therapist, and whatever else works for you to start to regain your balance and stronger foundation.
A side note on: “I can’t afford it”
I hear so many times from people how they can’t afford certain things when it comes to their health. I can’t afford to eat organic, buy supplements, see a naturopath, get counseling, take that workshop etc…I get it, I once held strong to that same limiting thinking- but what I do know now, is that even if I do have a shortage of money to do something I think I want to do, I have the power to create the money I need, to put toward the things I value most. And what I value most is my health. We have nothing without our health. But the key here is to understand, that if you really want something, you will find a way, if not, you will find an excuse. “I can’t afford it” can become a comforting excuse to stay stuck and avoid investing in things that will make us better. We also have to be intentional about what we are saying yes to, and where we want to place our money. Where can you say no, so that you can say yes to investing in the things that will help you feel your best every day? This was a big one for me. I had to learn to respect my money more, and be really intentional about where I was putting it so that I could say yes to the things that are highest on my values list.
If finances are an obstacle for you right now, do whatever you can to learn about how to take your power back in this area. Read books, get advice. Start a jar that you add $10 or $20 or $30 to every week until you have enough to get that massage, see a Naturopath, or put toward counseling to work through your emotional issues. .
What I do know, is that if we do not do anything different,
we will keep getting what we have always had. Nothing changes until we do.
Here are 3 tips to set you on the road to better health:
- Invest in an assessment with Naturopath to determine if you have any underlying imbalances such as adrenal fatigue, low progesterone, thyroid imbalance, or even anemia.
These conditions create severe havoc in the mind and body and it is well worth the investment to have an official diagnosis so you can treat whatever is going on at the root, with proper supplementation and lifestyle adjustments.
- Invest in counselling therapy to address any depression, anxiety or emotional trauma that may be hindering your health. Think of this as clearing the cobwebs, or de-cluttering the emotional closet. If we clear out the emotional clutter, we make room for growth and newness to enter in. If you are struggling with your health, or body weight (and this is affecting your health) I would start with getting your testing done, and working with a skilled therapist that practices an integrative approach to counselling, or at least can guide you to developing a plan toward untangling your physical and emotional health connection.
- Start to empower yourself in all areas of your life.
This means no longer blaming or making excuses for where you are, but taking ownership and deciding to become more self- reliant and proactive about your health on all levels, and the 6 dimensions of health as I mentioned above.
Start somewhere, don’t try to change everything all at once. Seek support and surround yourself with people who are on the same journey, who will encourage you when you are feeling discouraged and remind you of your goals and dreams when you begin to doubt yourself.
I hope this helps you to see the bigger picture when it comes to health, nutrition and exercise.
It is everything we do, not one thing that determines health. Find what works for you (even within this blog) and leave the rest. If what I have covered here doesn’t resonate, or you aren’t interested in healing work – and many aren’t – no judgement. You have to do what feels correct for you.
Also be aware of when your ego is taking over filling your mind with doubt, limiting thoughts, and resistance. Sometimes we can think something is stupid, crazy, or ridiculous, but something deep in our soul is whispering…yes..this is where I need to go. Listen to that voice, for it knows best.
It’s often the door that we are terrified to death to open, that leads us to our greatness and the biggest breakthroughs.
Are you ready to dive in? WORK WITH ME