I have been struggling with body image issues since I was a little girl. I always remember my mom saying things like, “I am not skinny enough” and “This dress makes me look fat.” I grew up trying to make myself skinny enough and not […]
I think my whole system is in shock.
I know in some crevice of myself I need to talk about what’s happening to our world with this COVID19 "panic" pandemic, however “where to start” and “what to say” feels like speaking a foreign language.
I’m no expert on viruses, their impact, or the human immune system. I’m just a lady with a history of trying to heal myself from autoimmune chronic illness, integrate years of trauma, and discover comfort in my only body. I’m capable of research and I spend my time learning how to heal these different aspects of myself and other people.
That being said, an area I obsess about is language. I’m also driven by perfectionism, anxiety, and OCD. How to cope with who I am in the midst of so much global turmoil, has me reverting back to a very distant land of dissociation. I’m clawing my way back to my body, refueling on my purpose, and trying not to be absorbed into the panic of a pandemic.
What I’ve noticed most is the seemingly vague, ambiguous wording surrounding the current state of our health crisis. Working in a natural healing public sphere, I don’t know how to talk to my clients about what we are all going through. I’ve noticed others as well dancing around terminology in regards to our current circumstances.
“What strange times...”
“Interesting human experience...”
“Our current, unique health situation...”
How do we discern the severity of a matter with watered down descriptions as our guide?
We are at war with something we cannot see and we cannot touch, and it’s killing members of the human community.
To me, it feels like nobody is calling it what it is, and it’s absolutely terrifying. Our lack of understanding about viruses in the lay population, combined with our middle class or impoverished population, meets the “I’m gonna do me” mental state so many of us have adapted as a culture. We are left with confusion, fear and isolation; all together -forced by our current crisis and our own self-imposed, pre-crisis, ‘yolo’ mindset.
It certainly is strange, not the crisis I mean, calling it that because that is exactly how I see it. It is strange how we’re reacting to a global health pandemic we’ve never seen before. You can almost see the black and deep purple edging of PTSD blanketing the world and all of our psyches. We are going to come out of this experience changed, permanently.
What really revs my engine is the fact that it took this for us to have awareness of how an illness can affect the entire world. Going to work, events, and other outings sick - no matter what level or type of sick - puts everyone at risk, including ourselves. There’s plenty of people in our population that require special treatment due to their weakened system. How many people have already been labeled diseased? If each of us owned caring for each of our individual body as a number one priority, my how the world would change. My hope would be that we change for the better. Maybe we can learn to respect ourselves, love our bodies and nourish them in healthy ways.
Maybe we can de-clutter our personal lives and our relationships and our self loathing tendencies.
Maybe we can reconnect with old friends and virtually engage with family near and far.
Maybe we can rethink our health for our mental and physical selves.
Maybe we can find our individual purposes in new light, allowing each of us to impact and uplift humanity.
Maybe we will revisit this “I’m going to do me, and shit on everybody else mindset.”
Lets get to a place where we understand that we are all humans. We all have needs for safety, security, shelter, community, and love. We are designed for connection, I hope we can cultivate more of what that means during this trying time.
The only honest thing I hear from everyone consistently right now, as of March 29th, 2020, is this:
“It’s going to get worse, before it gets better.”
Maybe the “gets better” starts now, with each of us choosing to do what we can to shed light back into our individual selves and immediate communities.
I spent too much time numb to this experience already. I am afraid, but more than afraid, I’m determined. I want to be smart with my time. I want to honor my purpose and paint it in new colors. I want to wash away what’s nagging and dragging me down. I am steadfast in my decision to be more creative and further develop my skills as well as understanding of how to heal a human.
We are a resilient species. We will win this war on COVID19.
You could ask almost any dietitians, nutritionists, naturopaths, urologists, doctors, and other holistic healers what their number one recommendation would be for combating any auto-immune disease and most would recommend a clean lifestyle to optimize health. By that I mean eating fruits, veggies and meats […]
Stress can be the catalyst that breaks you. How do you check yours?
I thought I had it under control. I didn’t think I was letting it take over my body or my life. Turns out I was stifling and stuffing all along.
Stress will kill you much faster than you’d choose to die.
I see it in my work and in myself. July of 2018 was hell for me. My significant other was out of town and our home had an infestation of bed bugs. I didn’t cry or have a melt down; I did however crash with a weird visual migraine half blind, half aching, that numbed my entire left arm - it lasted 24 hours.
There are always physical implications of unchecked stress.
Seeking a source of chronic pain in the body can be like sifting through sand looking for a flawed grain. How do you know what the problem causers are? Is it habits? Repetitive motion? Injury? Illness? Food? Lifestyle choices? Relationships? Not having boundaries?
It’s all of the above and more. It’s Stress. The hormones that are released into our systems in times of high stress can help us overcome it, in acute situations. Chronic stress has physical implications on the body. It can affect the body systematically and bring with it havoc and mayhem in the form of discomfort or pain. It’s a tool that if left unchecked can create a toxic reaction. At the wrong time with too much stress it can change your chemistry, for our tiny humans - this can be detrimental to their growth but for those of us who are grown, it can leave you in a place of chronic pain or diseases.
For me, anxiety builds stress, and vice versa. I've spent years stuck in a cycle of stress that I'm finally working towards breaking.
How I combat Stress and Anxiety:
- Self care is important. I act like my own parent(which can lead to arguing with myself), if I would want my spouse or child to behave in a certain way, that is exactly how I tell myself to do something. I focus on building good habits and the long term reward over instant gratification.
- Goal setting, I stick with priorities and adjust as needed. It’s always a challenge to hold myself accountable. Maybe it is strong will power, but I believe that to be a limited resource. It’s more about revisiting the goal and keeping it top of mind. I allow myself to want it more than I'm scared of it so it's a driving factor not an inhibitor.
- Breathing; we all need air! Breath in long, deep diaphragmatic breaths daily. Hold breath for a few seconds, ¼ length of the inhale, then exhale twice the length of the inhale. I know I need to work on this more, because oxygen is necessary; however, sometimes breathing brings awareness to an area that needs work and that can be frustrating. There's lots of breath work options available. Try out priming (it's helping me overcome anxiety surrounding exercise).
- Acupuncture, acupressure, massage, Rossiter stretching, Yamuna body rolling, functional fitness training, bodywork, tension release, fascia management, infrared sauna, detox bathing, journaling...(ect). These tools are not used daily, but as often as I can remember to use them depending on where I’m at in my cycle, my autoimmune flares, and my mental state.
- Meditation - to adjust the mental state and not just mindfulness, find the type that works for you. I like autogenic training because to me it works like self hypnosis, where I found myself fighting, judging, and loathing mindfulness or breathing meditation, something about autogenic seems to work best for my mind. I also focus on thought fasting, what's one thought or belief I'd like to instill, I set a timer and continue to bring my awareness to that one thing for a short duration, 5-10 minutes.
- Exercise - though difficult with chronic pain or mental barriers, still doable. Try something new until you find something you like and believe you can be successful at. Find a trainer to check into your body and form. I am a fitness trainer and yet I still have a professional train me on functional movement. I’d encourage everyone to try functional training as it’s injury prevention. I built up core strength and stability using foam rolling actively. Yamuna body rolling allows me to stretch like yoga while participating in weight bearing exercise. Running had to go because it had a negative impact on my pelvic floor, my gait and my joints but walking is magic.
- Realistic to do lists and expectations. SMART goal setting is crucial. Time blocking is necessary. This one is the most challenging. I try to meet myself where I’m at. Meaning, if it’s a high pain day, the bare minimum for survival is necessary. Know you’re not where you want to be and that’s okay. Everything in life is a practice and any task you take on doesn’t get easier, you get better at it with continual practice and time. If you maintain a beginner's mindset and choose the life of a learner there’s always answers to seek, solutions available and avenues unexplored. Stress is inevitable, how you cope and react can change.
- I'm also working on cultivating a better spiritual practice. For me that means finding people to discuss my concerns and ideas with as well as reading literature that supports my pursuits for head space and a religious purpose.
Growth is hard, and effort doesn’t come easy.
I always believe in each human and their potential.
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity
by Burke Harris, Nadine
I have found myself obsessing with an image
I don't see myself as. I took on fitness training in a functional fitness gym this last year. As a trainer, I gradually became more and more focused on changes I saw and those that I didn’t see fast enough, in my body. I know trying to come back from complete lack of movement and likely total body atrophy to a more athletic, strong physique isn’t an overnight process, and I get that.
That doesn’t change the obsessive, negative mantra my brain tells me, “it's possible for me to have the fitness trainer body and I must be doing something wrong to not have it yet.”
I eat clean. As clean as I can considering my autoimmune conditions force me into a very specific dietary regimen.
I work out most days, at least 30 minutes of functional movement.
I put in all the gym time effort for over a year, though truthfully I’ve only been focused on daily movement for the past 4-6 months. So why do I still have a tummy? A little extra around the edges?
Exactly 6 years ago I was well over 200 lbs and wearing a size 16 dress. I’ve now spent the last 2 years in a size 4 dress. I have seen multiple, wonderful changes in my body through all my efforts. (Less IC Flares, Less digestive flares, toning in my arms, stronger legs etc…)
Two questions linger
Why do I still hold all my weight in my midsection? And why do I still obsess about it?
I’m working on changing the conversation I have with myself surrounding this topic. I know I need to give my body and my mind the time it takes to heal. But dammit if I’m not so impatient! I want to get there. I want to believe it’s possible, an aesthetic goal I’ve always wished for and never believed was “genetically” for me. Does some part of me believe I deserve to be ugly and fat?
I know I’m working through healing. I spent years inflamed and fueling it before I stopped the process in its tracks and started the long road towards healthy. I know there’s still a raging war internally and it’s why I flare. I have moments where I experience unpleasant symptoms and it’s difficult not to fall apart in the, hopefully, temporary backslide. Frequent whole body pain, headaches, terrible menstrual cycles and the ever looming interstitial cystitis monster, Frank linger, but they come and go. I believe I have more good days than bad days and all of this progress is amazing.
Why can’t it be cookie cutter easy to come back from the brink of the most toxic unhealthy body you've ever encountered? Can I give myself a break?
There’s more thoughts that stick and plague me: How can I train other people looking bloated, or pregnant, or swollen, or fat? Is there some body dysmorphia? Do I really see what others see? My therapist says she’s never noticed a tummy in body rolling classes but, I can’t unsee the negative perception I holdin my mind.
I think I have a funky shape and maybe that’s everyone. My perception of me is skewed by my history of staring at myself in the mirror. I have been 100 lbs heavier. I have been 20 LB lighter.
I sit around 140 at 5’6” with an active job and lifestyle I had to claw my way into. All of it’s received criticism from myself and others. What I haven't been, is happy with where I'm at.
What do I want to focus on next?
Being okay with where I'm at in my journey, wherever that currently is. Knowing that I might be working hard on any number of perceptions I see, or physical things I’d like to change about myself, as long as I’m working towards my goals. I want to be content with where I am.
Whether that be in my IC and gut healing journey. With strengthening my core and how I perceive this part of my body. I want to find a more helpful, optimistic and positive way to look at my progress and my body. I want to be viewed as strong, capable and knowledgeable. Other aesthetics shouldn’t matter. I don’t want my step-daughter to see me obsessing about my figure in a way that makes others insecure or me insecure. I want her to see me as strong. I want her to see me is capable. I want her to see me as determined. But mostly, I want to see myself as these things.
Recognizing that I am at the place where I am mentally is the first step. I know I am capable of doing so much more than I was this time last year. I’m working on a daily gratitude journal that includes one strength I’ve progressed and one weakness. One person in my life I’m grateful for and one event.
I will track with pictures and measurements, but only so I’m not obsessing about a scale. I did track my weight daily for a month to get a feel for where I really sit throughout my hormonal cycle, but I won’t weigh in except for the first of every month going forward. I might still be obsessing, but I’m trying to track health and not so much focus on the aesthetics. I think it’s a great place to start.
I have been telling people this is the best I've felt in a long time, which is true, but I am still fighting for survival here.
I so have a love/hate mental and digestive struggle with food. What I can and can't eat are still very restrictive and sometimes maddening. I have flares of my interstitial cystitis which leaves me crippled and anxious and desperate feeling. However, I am growing, and have grown. I am changing, and have changed. I see light in the tunnel; maybe no end, but at least it’s not dark.
The notion started after I’d read the ever popular Secret by Rhonda Byrne several years back. I’d been struggling to integrate the concepts but failed to recognize some secret brain switch that flipped on the concept of your thoughts really manifesting your future. There was […]