Over your lifetime, you will have friends, lovers and acquaintances that come and go. Some of them will know you a little, some of them will know your deepest secrets. As the years pass by, I have come to really understand how no one will ever know me as well as I know myself. I’ve had instances where I knew something was wrong with me, health-wise, and had to do some serious convincing to a medical professional to dig deeper–just to confirm I was correct. I’ve gone through infertility and frightening preterm labor complications. I’ve had physical injuries and know exactly my limits like no doctor could understand–because after all it is my body.
My body has taken me from a competitive gymnast, to an “freshman-15” college student, to a professional dancer, to a fitness professional, to a home for 3 babies to grow, feed, & nurture, to a sleep-deprived mother, and now to a multi-tasking parent. Through it all, I have adapted to many sizes and know what feels good and what doesn’t feel like “me.” Everyone has their body comfort zone and there is no one that can dictate what is right for another person because everyone knows their body best.
Whatever we all choose, we all hope that we can have the body we are happy with and that it will carry us day to day towards leading a long, strong, happy and healthy life. Your longest relationship will always be between you and your body.
Recently, I have endured some very difficult and stressful times as a parent. My home and family dynamics have been effected by one of my children battling severe anxiety. While her precious little body and mind are challenged daily trying to cope with what having this diagnosis brings her way, I, as her mother, have gone on the roller coaster ride with her.
How this has impacted my other children and our relationship in addition to the taxing emotional lows I have experienced, I unconsciously took to food for comfort and reward–mostly sweets — which I justified because my other meals were extremely healthy. I somehow felt that after hours of screaming battles and tears by all members of my family, which happened several times a day, I deserved a treat. Ironically, after I gobbled that cookie or leftover birthday cake, I usually felt like crap and regretted it. But there was this voice inside me that said, “Who cares! Your life is dumpy right now anyway, what’s the difference? You eat healthy and workout hard. It’s no big deal.” However, it was a big deal. Sadness and frustration overcame me every day because I was displeased with how my clothes fit, how my body looked and how lethargic I felt. I was embarrassed and ashamed because I am a fitness and health professional and I felt so unhealthy and that people must not want to see me as a role model anymore if I couldn’t get my body together.
Most likely, to others, my body was absolutely fine. But to me–it wasn’t where it deserved to be with as hard as I exercised and as healthy as I ate regularly. The results were not apparent enough from my workouts and I had to prove to myself and my followers that I walk the walk and talk the talk a little better. I owed it to them, but more importantly to me.
I came to realize that the energy that I was experiencing in relation to the anxiety in our home was not only controlling my daughter’s thoughts, but it seeped into mine. It was controlling me, like it was controlling her. I talked to her daily about having another voice in her head that is louder than the voice of the anxiety and listening to that one. I took a step back and heard my own words. I took my own advice–I needed to stop listening to a voice of despair and defeat. I decided I was going to take on the anxiety beast in my family and I was also going to take on my body. If I felt better, maybe I could help my family more.
I didn’t know what to do. I knew how to eat and my body just wasn’t changing. My doctor told me I was fine. Again, I had the sense something wasn’t working right and I needed to figure out how to get my body to respond. I kept coming back to the idea that “I’m 43, this is my body now. Get used to it. It just functions differently.” But this wasn’t OK. It couldn’t be true. I wasn’t ready to settle for less than I thought I could be.
I bought several diet books and read them thoroughly. Shakes, eating pyramids, cleanses…nothing spoke to me. Nothing was so different that I thought my body would change by adapting to their plan.
I saw some pictures on Facebook of people’s before and after shots after working with a new diet program with a local fitness professional/nutritionist. I got in touch with him and told him my story. I was SURE he was going to say, “You’re doing all the right things. There is nothing I would add to help you.” But instead, he insisted he could help and that I had basically shut down my digestive process with the way I was eating and his plan would guarantee me the results I wanted.
I had nothing to lose (except the weight). I got on board.
My first week I lost 6 pounds.
Since then, I have shed the weight (which I have now coined as a layer of stress and self-loathing) and my body now looks and feels like “Me.” My hard work in the gym is now apparent and in my negative attitude has been lifted. This new chapter in my relationship with my body is a happy one. I am able to communicate and navigate my family dynamics with more patience and less resentment of how the anxiety impacted my health. I am thankful for the changes and I know that the experience I went through this past year is just another avenue in my lifelong journey with my body. I’m sure there will be many more uphill battles, but that’s life’s adventure. There’s something to learn in each step along the way. This time, I learned to continue to trust my instincts, never lose faith, and to stay on a positive road.
The relationship with my body continues to surprise me, and after all, it will be my longest one.