My Health Journey Part 3
Today I’m back with part 3 of my health journey evolution. You may want to grab a cup of coffee or tea (and/or a snack) to get through this one; it's definitely not the shortest post I've ever written :)
When we previously left off, I had signed up for a three-day training seminar in Lexington, Kentucky. And while I knew what the focus would be and had an idea of what I would learn, I was not prepared for the mental shift and complete shake up I was about to receive.
The seminar was hosted by Girls Gone Strong, an organization focused on empowering women to be strong, healthy, and confident. I had been reading all of their free online materials and not only was I learning a ton, but their message really resonated with me. So when they announced this weekend seminar (and I needed continuing education credits!), I knew I had to go.
Throughout the course of the three-day event, I heard story after story of women just like myself: stuck on the endless cardio and calorie counting train, facing total burnout, and realizing something had to give. After finally transitioning to the “less is more” philosophy, they had gotten super strong and improved not only their health but also how they felt about their bodies – all while doing the minimal amount of training necessary and saying goodbye to restrictive eating.
It sort of sounded too good to be true, but I knew that the voice inside my head that was making me feel uncomfortable and anxious meant I needed to pay attention. The entire weekend I could hardly sleep; my mind was buzzing from all the information and trying to reconcile my fear of change with a strong desire to turn my own story around.
This was the moment when it really hit home that it was time to take a leap, try something new, and practice what I was preaching, even though I knew it was going to be uncomfortable.
To be honest I don’t entirely remember how I started to go about implementing these new strategies, although I do remember one day just completely calling it quits on calorie counting. I was so mentally exhausted from trying to track everything every day that I couldn’t take it anymore and went cold turkey (no pun intended!).
Over time I also scaled back on my cardio habit, quit teaching spin classes, and started to emphasize strength training and lifting heavier weights. I added in gentle yoga classes and walking on my non-training days to help with recovery and provide some restorative movement.
It was both terrifying and freeing, and it took a while to adjust and figure out how to trust myself to eat what I wanted and needed and take more rest days. At that point I didn’t have my nutrition coaching certification, so even though I had some baseline nutritional knowledge, I was not skilled in the practice of behavior change and didn’t have many strategies to get me through the transition.
But I did enlist the help of others! I was still feeling exhausted and worn out all the time – some days I was counting the minutes until I could crash on the couch or get into bed, and daily naps were not uncommon. After seeing various doctors, endocrinologists, and specialists, I was not getting any answers, and I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of support I was finding in the medical world. I was routinely offered anti-depressants or other medications but I really felt like something deeper was going on and wanted to address why this was happening instead of just treating my symptoms.
At the seminar in Kentucky I had listened to naturopathic doctors and functional medicine practitioners speak about women’s hormones and the impact of diet and exercise, so I sought out a naturopath near me and made my first appointment. Right away I felt like I had finally found someone who was going to dive deep, hear my story, and help me find the root of my issues.
Little did I know how much time and effort, experimenting, and trial and error I was in for! It was a lot to take on: everything from elimination diets and genetic testing to Chinese herbal supplements, acupuncture, Maya abdominal massage (it’s weird), infrared saunas, IV nutrient therapy, and much more...it was a bit overwhelming at first but I also felt a huge sense of relief that I was taking action to restore my health. And along with a therapist and other bodywork practitioners, I felt like I was assembling a team of people to support my journey physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The more in-depth I was going into my own health and wellness the more I was learning about how intricate and interconnected the body and all its systems are, and how our daily lifestyle choices impact every aspect of our well-being. It was fascinating to see how food could not only support workouts and recovery, but also hormonal health, mood, immunity, energy levels, and more.
It took a long time (like 6+ years) of work to start to really see some changes, and the process has shaped not only my own health but also my career path. I became fascinated by nutrition and the huge role it plays overall health, and eventually pursued my nutrition coaching certification – something I may never have done if not for having faced my own challenges.
As I continue my health journey evolution, I’m more and more aware of the importance of basic self-care practices to support wellness: getting quality sleep, eating mindfully and listening to your body’s cues, daily movement, and stress management strategies.
And as I’ve started to feel better physically, it’s been amazing to see how making things easier can lead to better results – by exercising less (but more effectively), eating more (higher quality food), and emphasizing rest and recovery, I’ve been able to find the right mix that allows me to meet my health, wellness, and (let’s be honest) aesthetic goals. All while reducing the amount of mental energy and stress involved and enjoying the process!
This is not to say I have it all figured out, because I definitely don’t. It’s a constant work in progress and I will never really be “done.” In the next chapter of this story I will go into more detail about some of the health challenges I faced, the ups and downs, and the lessons this long and bizarre journey has taught me.
If you made it all the way through this, thank you for reading and letting me share my story! I will leave you with this quote from Christopher K. Germer:
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”
Where are you on your health journey/evolution? If you’re feeling stuck or need help getting started, contact me here to schedule your free consultation.