Continued from Part 1…
When my doctors told me to change my habits, my first reaction was denial. To say I was angry is a total understatement. I was outraged- I was so sick of conventional doctors telling me that I was overweight and at the same time that I had to stop working out so much. Some blamed the supplements I was taking (because apparently a scoop of protein powder here and there has the same effects of injecting testosterone into your bloodstream), while some just said that I needed to chill out more. I was told I had PCOS and then I was told that it wasn’t possible. I had multiple blood tests and hormone panels done: most markers came back normal with a few minor abnormalities here and there. No one could diagnose the cause of my periods disappearing and it was completely and utterly frustrating.
Ultimately I decided it was time to put the insecurities I had about my body aside and focus on prioritising my health. And while I was totally convinced that that was what I was already doing by training 5 days a week and eating clean, deep down I knew that my motivations for doing so were coming from a very unhealthy and destructive place.
One night and sat down and wrote out what I really wanted to achieve. No bullshit, no cover up lies. I finally decided to be real with myself. This is what I wrote:
- I want to love my body and be proud of what it does for me
- I want to be truly healthy on the inside
- I want to truly practice what I preach
- I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl anymore
From that moment, I knew I was ready to start making some changes. I knew it wouldn’t come immediately and 3 months on I’m still struggling. I’ve stopped lifting heavy, I’ve stopped counting macros, I’ve tried to embrace bodyweight movements and yoga, I’m more relaxed about eating out, and I’ve tried to stop thinking about food and exercise as a transactional relationship. Not going to lie, I still feel guilty when I eat something ‘unhealthy’ or don’t exercise when I plan to. I still look at foods and wonder if it will make me gain weight over the next 12 hours. I still sneak trips on to the scale to check my bodyweight even though I know it’s not important. But it’s a learning journey and I accept that.
It’s been hard to explain to people why I haven’t been training, why I’ve suddenly disappeared from my CrossFit box and why I’m not competing when I competed upwards from 5 times last year, because frankly this is what people have come to expect from me. It’s not their fault at all- they only knew me in these environments. Luckily, I’ve been able to use work, studies and travel as an excuse for now, as I come to terms with the real underlying cause.
We all have labels attached to our identity and it’s not a bad thing.
What matters is how we choose to respond to those labels and understand that they can change. Our lives have seasons the same way summer and winter come and go. The more we accept the fluctuations that occur, the easier it is to move with them. I’ve come to realise that three months is such an insignificant amount of time in the big picture of my life. And if this phase turns out to be longer than that, then I’m ready to keep going as it is.
Sure I miss lifting heavy and being all about that gym life. But I’m also in a better place mentally, which is something I know I can be proud of. My body hasn’t changed all that much even though I thought I’d just turn into a potato when I stopped lifting- I haven’t gained weight and I don’t think I’ve lost all that much muscle.
I’m more in tune with what my body feels and I actually smile when I decide to take a rest, when I don’t feel like working out or eat some extra carbs when I’m craving them. It may sound like small, insignificant matters, but to me it’s facing fears that have haunted me for years.
My period hasn’t come back, but as with everything else that has changed over the past few months, I’ve learned to take it as it is, trust the process and just go with the flow. I don’t know when my body will go back to ‘normal’ or if I’ll ever be able to go back to competing like I used to, but I do know that I’m in a pretty good place right now and I’m excited to be exploring a new side of myself.