Let me tell you a story about these five-year-old jeans. I bought them AFTER having a baby and getting dengue fever. If I said I bought them because I love my body – it’s a lie! I bought them because I thought they would stop me from putting on weight and give me a waist back!
That didn’t work.
Those jeans sat in my drawer for two years (2016-2018), until I moved them into the back of the closet in March 2018! Today I took them out and tried them on.
Before my pregnancy (2012), I was sort of following Tim Ferris’ 4-hour body diet. I did squats and 15-minutes of full-on kettle-bells four days a week. I also had a german shepherd who required two walks a day, and the occasional run, which kept me active. At that time, I struggled with hormones (3+ years of hormones for IVF and artificial insemination) and the emotional fluctuations that came with it.
So, when I got pregnant, I was semi-fit and at an ideal weight. I managed, throughout my pregnancy, to keep a perfect weight by continuing to walk the dogs and stay active, and probably weighed 2-3 pounds less after giving birth than when I started the pregnancy, even with the extra tummy fat.
As I’ve shared before, about five weeks after giving birth, I got dengue fever. It wiped me out. Then it cleaned the floor with me! I ended up rake thin and with zero energy.
Unfortunately, my body reacted by entering survival mode: it stored fat rather than burn it for energy. This was complicated by the fact I already had insulin resistance.
I had so much going on; I was emotionally in a survival mode as well. So, I paid little attention to the physical ravages on my body.
Innergetics: learning about my inner hunger
Almost two years ago, I began the Innergetics training process with mBraining.
“Our relationship to food is a central one that reflects our gut-based attitudes toward our environment and ourselves. As a practice, embodied mindful eating can bring us awareness of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations, and deep insights into the core roots of health and contentment.” (mBraining Innergetics)
On paper, this looked like three months of training (weekly classes), followed by three months of working on myself and a partner, followed by three months working with clients. I naively thought that by Christmas 2018 I would be a certified Innergetics coach!
At the root of the process is learning that food, diet and exercise are merely thermometers – ways to see what else is happening behind the scenes. What do you store in your fat cells when you eat your emotions? When you turn to food (or turn against it), what messages are you giving yourself about your love for your body?
Behind the scenes, exhaustion overtook me, while insisting everything was fine. I lied to myself was that my only physical ailment was Celiac Disease. Two years ago, I started to nap every afternoon at 3.00 p.m. for fifteen to twenty minutes to get through to the end of the working day.
Once I got into the Innergetics process, I started paying close attention to how well I was sleeping (not my eating or exercise). I noticed how many days I woke up feeling run over by a truck and exhausted. I paid attention to how often after eating all I wanted to do was sleep.
Weekly coaching with Sarah & Wendy
There were only three of us in the US/Canada time zones doing the Innergetics training, so I teamed up with Sarah Whalen, Master Coach and Wendy Bruce. While it might have been a coincidence – I don’t believe in coincidence! Life offered me a fantastic blessing!
They didn’t just coach me for the three months of the program. Instead, we agreed to keep the coaching triad going for as long as we needed it. We finally took a break in November 2019, to get back together now in the New Year! With them, I learnt to value myself, and along the way, I learnt to love my body once again.
Because of the safe space these two incredible coaches held for me – I explored what I loved (and hated) about the life I had built for myself. Each decision over the past 15 years that brought me to where I was: what new decisions and choices did I want to make? What outcomes did I want to change in the future?
I have laughed, cried and wept with these ladies – joyfully, painfully and with a deep release. I tried, failed, chickened out, and got back on my feet again.
The real issues: can I love my body and myself?
Let me give you an idea of some of the issues that come up when you dive deep:
- People-pleasing as my sense of identity, rather than knowing who I am
- Healthy boundaries in relationships – learning to say “no.”
- Finding my voice and being able to have difficult conversations (I’m good at them as a lawyer, just not personally)
- Stifled creativity
- Learning to live my purpose, instead of continuing on a path that I chose 20+ years ago
- Accepting that physical healing goes hand-in-hand with emotional healing
Loving myself as a woman
I realised I hated my body, my femininity. This predates pregnancy: I struggled to get pregnant, needing artificial insemination and IVF treatment to be successful finally. My first round of artificial insemination resulted in an ectopic pregnancy, which was emotionally devastating.
When I finally discovered that I had Celiac Disease and that this was the reason for my infertility, I had reached a place of no longer wanting to have a child. I was exhausted by the rounds of hormone therapy, the mood swings, and it was affecting my business terribly. I took some awful business decisions during those years, which I regret even now. Worse yet are the choices that I failed to make.
But deeply ingrained under all that, I hated my body and how I perceived it betrayed me. On top of everything else, I lost my libido and interest in sex.
I couldn’t get pregnant, and on top of that, I was running my business into the ground through bad decision making. Most of this I blamed on my uterus & hormones.
I got pregnant on what was to be the last attempt at IVF. Of course, by that stage, I was done, and I didn’t care any more. All I wanted was my life back! Was it too much to ask to find me again? Instead, I got pregnant.
The pregnancy brought great happiness.
Nonetheless, another part of me felt betrayed – once again, foiled by my own body. I finally decide I don’t care, and I don’t want this, and I am going to rebuild my business and my life, and I’m pregnant.
I am blessed – I have an amazing daughter! But I didn’t come back to loving myself as a woman until last year.
Of all the things I lost, I missed myself the most!
Loving my gut and my immune system
Part of learning to love me is to love even those parts that aren’t working correctly. For me, that’s my digestive system and immune system – all in the gut.
The whole Innergetics process takes you into the gut! mBraining takes you into the gut: safety, security and even your identity.
I’ve been mad, resentful and angry at that part of my body for a long time. Long before diagnosis.
“You’re letting the team down”.
On the other hand, I failed to support it to get better and heal! I wanted it to get better without having to do any of the work – just give me a pill and make it better. Isn’t that what we all want? A quick fix!
Most of my health problems were not caused by Celiac Disease – they were caused by SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overload) which often comes as a result of Celiac Disease and the treatment for helicobacter pylori (4 weeks of antibiotics)! Gluten causes bloating. SIBO causes more bloating because the bacteria in the gut are all out of balance. And my SIBO is irritated by things other than gluten! A more restricted diet than before – more things that I like. Some (not all) cheeses.
It took months of paying attention and making changes to finally get to a place where I could eat with no bloating. I can’t put a dob of whipped cream on a mochaccino or hot cocoa, even though I can have dairy milk! Corn, even popcorn, is enough to make me feel bloated.
When I’m bloated, I make bad food choices. I eat more to stuff down feeling uncomfortable in my gut – because feeling too full somehow “feels better” than feeling bloated does.
The result = more bloating later ==> eating more to stuff down feeling bloated.
It can become a vicious circle if I allow it.
Healing happens when I learn not to eat when bloated, but to accept that I feel horribly uncomfortable and wait for it to pass. Drink some more water or hot tea and wait for it to pass. But don’t feed the SIBO.
Loving myself means that I am willing to sit and feel uncomfortable without eating to stuff it all down.
At 47, I’ve learned to love my body enough to listen to what it needs. And that’s how I have managed to fit back into these jeans!
Size and weight are irrelevant. Life is all about learning to love yourself enough to choose health and wellbeing (emotionally, mentally and physically).