A few months ago, I wrote about having a mini breakdown about my jean shorts not fitting.
This was a big blow to me (well, to anyone who has struggled with body image issues), but especially for me because I had maintained my weight for a number of years.
I had (finally) gotten to the place of stability, where I didn't need five sizes in my closet, and all my clothes fit season after season. So when the jean shorts I had been wearing the last few summers didn't fit, it hit me hard.
What struck me the most was that I thought I HAD accepted my body. I've spent years doing the work I needed to do to get to where I was, and I thought I was "done." I thought I'd reached the place where I had finally accepted my body.
And just when we've got it all figured out, BOOM. Something happens and we realize we don't.
My body acceptance was conditional. I actually hadn't truly, deeply, and completely accepted my body. I only loved myself if I could fit into these jean shorts.
So I began some exploration into what was going on.
I knew I hadn't been eating any more than usual. I was still working out and getting plenty of exercise. I didn't really believe it was "winter weight" (this happened in March) because my food intake was normal.
I considered that I put on muscle because of the type of exercise I do, but it didn't seem to fit. It was strange because whenever I had gained weight before, I usually gained it in my stomach. This time I had gained it almost ONLY in my inner thighs.
And then, of course, I thought I was just hallucinating or being dramatic. I've had such deep seeded body image issues that sometimes, I have to really ask myself if it's reality! (I spent so long seeing "fat" when it wasn't there.)
After some exploration and obsessive Google-ing, I had a guess as to what was going on.
Besides my jeans not fitting like they used to, I was having some other health red flags that I had been ignoring: I was exhausted all the time and relying on coffee to wake me up.
And not just like "oh I'm tired, I need coffee", but a straight up, "I MUST have a cup of coffee the instant I wake up or else I'm not functioning" kind of tired.
I had been working crazy hours, spending nights in anxiety, and hours obsessing/worrying about life/business things in my head.
The day it hit me was during a workout when I literally couldn't lift the weights up because I was so tired and just felt like all my body wanted to do was lay down and sleep.
After some Internet research and visiting with a naturopath, I realized something was going on with my adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are responsible for the regulation of cortisol, which help regulate metabolism and help the body respond to and handle stress.
When they get burned out from dealing with excessive stress (this can be emotional, mental or physical stress), it's called adrenal fatigue.
Since I caught it really early, it was very mild. I was put on some supplements to help heal my body: lots of minerals, some B vitamins, a thyroid supplement, and a liver supplement.
I took two months off from working out.
I slept a lot.
I gave up caffeine. (Hardest thing I've ever done... EVER)
I did lots of gentle yoga and nature walks.
And slowly, but surely, I got better.
Months later, I feel back to normal, but my weight has not returned yet to what it was. And I'm working on accepting that.
My hormones still need to rebalance and I'm not off the supplements entirely.
Natural healing is very different than Western medicine healing. It takes much much longer than popping a pill to heal a symptom. And it requires a lot more patience and faith that your body will get better.
What is my lesson in all of this? That I still have some work to do in body love and kindness.
My body is still healing hormones, regulating metabolism, and getting all the systems back into balance. And weight loss is always secondary to whatever it is that need to be healed first.
I thought I had accepted my body completely. And I was wrong. It was only on certain conditions.
So now I take my body-acceptance journey deeper than I've gone before.
And that's what this journey is all about.
So, how long will it take you to accept your body?
It takes as long as it takes. And that's not meant to say you won't ever be satisfied with your body. What I mean is that is always somewhere deeper to go.
There are always more layers to sort through, life changes that bring up lessons to learn, and experiences that propel you to go much deeper.
I've already healed so many layers in this whole chaotic mess. And now this is just the next layer that I must work through to take me even deeper into self-love. The same goes for you.
You'll never be "done" your journey. That is why it's a journey.
Think of it like a close relationship you have in your life. You are always going deeper with that person. A year into your relationship with your partner, you think you know them. Three years later you've realized how much more intimate your relationship is. A decade later, you have grown a love that you didn't realize was possible.
And so it is with your body. You may think you've arrived. Or you get to the place where you like your body. And then something happens that brings up your issues all over again. Don't beat yourself up over it. Allow the kindness to wash over you, because whatever the issue is, it's up for healing.
It's a choice, day in and day out, to always bring yourself back to acceptance.
You'll never be done because there is always room to go deeper, give yourself even more love, and show even more compassion to yourself.
So, tell me... what is your "next layer" that you need to work through? I'd love to hear where you are in your own journey. Share in the comments below.
If you're tired of starting over every Monday, grab your FREE "Must Have Guide To End The Diet Cycle Today." To learn to let go of obsessing over your body and food 24/7, c'mon over and visit me at www.jennhand.com.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.