Every day, we are bombarded with information and messages about health. We are told through a myriad of sources to eat cleaner, exercise more, eat this, don't eat that - the list goes on and on.
As readers of my website know, I relish in living a healthy lifestyle. I have experimented with almost every form of eating there is, dipping my toes into the vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and paleo lifestyle, just to name a few.
Sometimes however, we can indulge in too much of a good thing. And that happened to me.
It’s not easy for me to write this article however I believe vulnerability is a strength. I realise it may seem to undermine some of my previous musings, however too much of a focus on health and wellness made me unwell. Becoming highly interested, and therefore meticulous, about what I ate, as well as adopting a military-style approach to exercise resulted in me being underweight, with a BMI teetering on the lowest of low.
In my case, there is something wrong with being too thin. For me, it was this: I stopped menstruating for a period of over three years. After deciding to come off the contraceptive pill following a long stint, wishing to no longer pump my body full of artificial hormones, I was confident my period would return to its normal self. But it was not to be.
After visiting what seemed like an endless array of medical professionals, from GPs to gynaecologists, to eastern healers, naturopaths and acupuncturists, and after ingesting (more) artificial medication, along with natural herbs (neither of which worked), I became devastated by the fear that my body would never return to normal and that I would be rendered infertile, never being able to bear the children I so long for.
Conventional medical advice provided to me on countless occasions was to just go back on the contraceptive pill - apparently the hormones would “kick start” my cycle (albeit an artificial one), and get me back on track. But to me, that just represented every reason why I had stopped taking it in the first place.
My weight wasn't the only problem however. Being a complete stress-head by nature made me an insomniac, and left me with a constant churn in my stomach whilst awake. The weight plus the stress was a cocktail that spelled disaster.
Figuring I had nothing else to lose (and with the added benefit of relaxing into an incredible relationship) I slowly started to shed my once thought fear of “bad foods” and embraced all the things I had denied myself of for so long. I once again relished in the occasional chocolate donut. Ate dessert more. Ordered the burger. What was once a regular alarm at 4.45am each morning slowly edged to 5.00am, then to 5.30am then to 6.00am and beyond. The gruelling morning workouts dropped off, replaced by gentle walking and the occasional Pilates class, if anything at all. I gained 5kgs in the space of 4 months. And it felt good.
Three weeks ago, I was rewarded with something most women do not get excited about - my first menstrual cycle in three years. As it turns out, eating more and exercising less was what my body craved. To me, this represents true wellness - a body that is operating just as it should, not one that blocks the natural processes and shuts down its feminine energy.
Whilst I can’t predict with certainty whether my cycle will take on any form of regularity, I see this as the first step in becoming truly healthy again and offers a ray of light, which helps to re-enforce that I am on the right track.
To be honest, I still struggle at times with food - feeling uncomfortable about skipping the gym, or eating more food that I am used to, but I have a higher purpose now, and I know it can be overcome.
For any women out there struggling with the same issue, have faith in your own body, and listen to what it needs. I hope you too can regain that true level of health, and may it continue always.