I have always been busy, driven, productive. I could juggle a whole lot of stress and detail, survive on very little sleep, no water or bathroom breaks, ok food and get up the next day to do it all over again. I had a really tough time understanding people who couldn’t just get it all done.
Until last spring when I decided to make a major life change and the fear of it overwhelmed me. I couldn’t get out of bed – sometimes it would take me 3 hours to lift the covers. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. If I managed to get to sleep, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and lie there for hours.
It was like pushing a car uphill. There were days where I would look at a flight of stairs and not know if I could make it to the top. My body shut down and I didn’t know what to do.
I refused to see my own doctor because he was more interested in getting me to come more often so that he could prescribe me yet another pill that would give me temporary relief but just cause more problems elsewhere. I got really mad the last time he lectured me – not on my health or the test results in front of him – but on how little I came to see him, that I vowed never to return.
I was also afraid that I’d be prescribed antidepressants. I’ve seen both the good and bad side of them and I knew that while they could have given me some relief, it wasn’t what I really needed.
I luckily found myself sitting in front of an integrative health doctor. I didn’t know they existed but I’m so glad a friend of mine suggested it.
As he read the 13 page questionnaire I had filled out, he looked at me with more compassion than any other doctor ever has. I remember tearing up on the way home from the first visit.
It turns out I had adrenal fatigue. Too many years of not taking care of myself, no – let’s be honest, too many years of not liking myself had finally caught up to me. I’ve always been a bigger girl but I had gained over 60lbs in the past eight years. I needed to make some big changes.
In my normal all or nothing kind of way, I threw myself into research and decided to add to the list of what the doctor suggested. I cut out alcohol, caffeine, sugar, wheat and processed foods. The detox was brutal and it made me feel even worse for the first week.
I took supplements and added everything that I could find that would help rebuild my immune system. I became, as one friend called me, the queen of smoothies. I started with good, fresh ingredients and cooked everything myself. I added healthy fats and ate more vegetables. I focused on protein and forced myself to drink more water even though bathrooms are a pain to find when you’re a traveling sales rep.
I started walking again. My first walk was less than 3k and I ended up needing a 3 hour nap to recover from it. I walked just a bit further each time and eventually integrated a 6-10k walk every day.
I did kettlebell videos to gain some strength. Some days I could barely make it through 6 minutes.
I had addressed all the physical issues but the weight wasn’t coming off. It didn’t budge even a little. It was as stubborn as I am. It felt like an arduous battle the whole way. I was looking for the results to feel good and nothing I was doing was working.
Deep down, I knew the weight problem was an emotional issue at its core. So I attacked it from this angle too. I did acupuncture and endocrine reset meditations. I journaled and read self help books. I searched everywhere for the answer that felt just out of reach. I was so frustrated with the lack of results. It wasn’t coming off from where I wanted it to.
The truth is, it was all working. I just couldn’t see it. I wasn’t enjoying the process. I wasn’t giving myself enough credit for the little milestones because I hadn’t reached the big goal yet.
I could have spent more time noticing how I felt a little bit better every day – when it took me a little less time to get out of bed or when I could climb a flight of stairs without being completely exhausted. I could have noticed when I felt better waking up. Before this, I couldn’t remember waking up feeling refreshed – EVER. I could have celebrated every time I noticed my clothes getting a little bit looser.
A couple of weeks ago, I attempted the Lares Trek in Peru. It was tougher than I expected and I ended up having to do most of the uphill climb on the back of a horse. I was extremely disappointed in myself. Luckily, two friends were much kinder to me than I am to myself.
In a moment I hope I never forget, one made me look back to see how far I had come as we descended the mountain. It was an absolutely incredible view. The other reminded me that the weight I’ve lost recently is the mountain that I’ve climbed. I felt myself light up and I felt instantly lighter – inside and out.
As of this week, I’ve lost the 60lbs I had gained. I’m down two dress sizes and I have no doubt that I’ll soon be ready for the next. I have a ways to go but I’m excited about it. The better I feel, the more the weight comes off. It’s that simple and that difficult.