I’ve put my body through a lot in the last five years. First it was a severe diet and exercise program resulting in a great looking body, but a seriously damaged mental and emotional state. Then more than a year in a long distance relationship, traveling back and forth across the country while spending my ‘free’ time getting my house ready to sell. Insert devastating breakup here. After that it was a new job where I spent two years working 60-80 hours a week in a highly stressful environment trying to ‘prove’ myself.
All this has taken a serious toll on my physical health. Duh!
After I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue in May, I did a lot of research. I discovered how hard my body has had to work these last few years. I’m ashamed to admit there was a time in my life when I was hyper-focused on weight loss and the way my body looked. It’s all my friends and I would talk about. In the shadow of compromising my health, it seems so shallow; so superficial.
And yet…here I am again.
Recently I stepped on the scale and the number staring back at me shocked me. As much as I hate to admit it (especially in this public forum), I’ve gained back all the weight I lost and then some. And I’m irritated with myself that I feel less than because I’m heavier than I used to be.
I’ve been tempted to blame my body for failing me, but it had no choice. The weight gain is a result of reaching for caffeine, carbs and sugar, which I used to keep going every day in such extreme circumstances. It was a trade off. I ignored my body’s signals to rest, to go easy on myself. I pushed it to do more and more and more. I was unreasonable, unrelenting, a brutal taskmaster at times.
Not once thinking about what I was doing to myself, I took my good health for granted. I believed my body would keep doing what I asked, no matter how hard I pushed it. And my body did its best. It really did.
This has been a difficult lesson (aren’t they all?) for someone who has built their reputation on being the person who comes through no matter what. You don’t realize how much harder everyday tasks are when you’re physically tired and in pain much of the time. When even showering and getting dressed can be exhausting. But there’s nothing else I can do. If I keep pushing myself I’ll only do more damage to my body. So the alternative is learning to accept I am able to accomplish less right now. Much less.
Sometimes I think, “I just want the old me back.” But I don’t really. Okay…maybe I want parts of her back. Mostly her energy, her strength, and yes…her waistline. But what I am trying to let go of is the part of me who pushes so hard. Who doesn’t take care of myself. Who thinks my poor body will keep going no matter what.
Little by little, I’m learning to pay more attention to what my body needs and listen less to the voices in my head that tell me what it should look like. And even though it’s tempting to go on yet another radical weight loss plan, I know that’s not the answer. Putting more demands on my body will not allow it to heal. Treating myself with kindness is the only way to better health.
Who I am and how I show up in the world is so much bigger (pun intended) than what I weigh. Though I don’t always live it, in my heart I know it’s true.
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