-Since managing stress and rebalancing my hormones remain my main goals right now, it’s important that I'm taking steps towards both lowering the stress I'm faced with (i.e. ensuring adequate nutrition, proper rest, eliminating lifestyle stressors etc - all covered here) as well as strengthening my body’s ability to better cope with stress and rebalance my hormones whenever they get out of whack in the future.
Conventional treatments for many hormonal imbalances usually include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, medications and the contraceptive pill. Personally (really emphasising that this is a personal opinion), I’m of belief that while these treatments have their place, for the majority of us, relying on these only does three things:
For the sake of my own journey and recovery, I’ve made sure to read LOADS of research and have also consulted with numerous GPs and specialists to devise a more natural/holistic treatment plan that will (hopefully!) work for me. I’ve been given 6 months to heal my body naturally after a period of chronic stress and excessive cortisol, hypothalamic amenorrhea and now adrenal fatigue and hypocortisolism.
WWithin these 6 months, I’ll be playing around with natural supplements with the hope that they will accelerate the normalisation of key hormones that have become imbalanced and deregulated in my body - such as cortisol, testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone.
Like I’ve emphasised a few times, changing things in my diet and re-evauating some of my lifestyle habits are going to be the most crucial for balancing my cortisol levels and managing my hormones, but supplements can give me a big advantage in achieving that balance - and it would be foolish for me to ignore that advantage.
There are a ton of natural supplements out there, and many of them will be specific for healing different hormonal imbalances - so for the sake of my own experiences and blog, I’m going to 'skim over’ the really technical jargon of these, and just outline the supplements I’m personally trialling and why. I suggest you do your own research and consult a professional before putting anything into an already stressed body!
Honestly, I’d never heard about these before I faced all these health issues - so don’t be skeptical if you haven’t heard of them before either!
Adaptogens are a class of natural remedies that counter the physical and mental effects of stress - they are neither stimulating nor sedentary, and instead work to bring the body back to a state of balance/homeostasis - in whichever direction is needed (e.g. they will work to lower cortisol levels if they're too high, or will boost them if they'e too low).
There’s a few key ones that have been shown to effectively manage cortisol levels and rebalance sex hormones, two I've which I'm trialling at the moment:
Ashwagandha - a traditional adaptogenic herb in Ayurvedic medicine used to treat anxiety and promote relaxation and healing. This herb has been shown to have powerful effects for lowering stress responses and regulating cortisol levels within the body. It benefits thyroid function and can help overcome adrenal fatigue. I take in the form of daily CortRX supplementation, as well as in a herbal tea blend 1-2 x daily.
Rhodiola rosea - another adaptogenic herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It significantly reduces chronic cortisol and increases resilience to stress. It’s also been found to alleviate symptoms of depression, and can offer energising relief to a fatigued system. Again, I take this one in the form of daily CortRX supplementation.
A lot of these nutrients you can easily obtain from an adequate and varied diet, but keep in mind that in a stressed or compromised system, your body may not be capable of effectively extracting these nutrients from what you're eating, or it may need a little extra than you’re able to realistically consume through your diet alone.
Which supplements to try first?
Firstly, to drive home this point again, make sure you’ve satisfied your core nutritional needs and eliminated some lifestyle stressors. Remember, supplements aren’t going to ‘cure’ you in isolation - so make sure you’re prioritising the tips I covered in Parts I & Part II before trying any of these supplements!
Since stress and hormone imbalances are notorious nutrient drainers, your ‘safest’ and probably cheapest bet is to start with a high-quality multivitamin-mineral supplement and an omega-3 supplement (either fish oil or flaxseed oil). Starting here will ensure you’re building up a healthier system to combat stress, and to nourish your body with the nutrients it needs to regain an optimum balance.
Next, I’d start experimenting with some adaptogens to work directly on managing the cortisol and other stress hormones naturally - especially since you may not know which direction your hormones are falling out of balance. I went from having extremely high cortisol, to now what they suspect is chronically low cortisol. Adaptogens make sure you're not driving your hormones too far in the wrong direction - especially at the start of your recovery when you might not have clear answers as to what's out of balance and in which direction. Ashwagandha is probably the most researched and effective adaptogen for stress management, as well as being one of the easiest to find. You can buy it in capsule or powder form from most supplement or health food stores.
I’d also recommend researching ATP Science products - they have a range of natural remedies that combine a lot of adaptogens and natural ingredients effectively to relieve common hormonal imbalances. This is completely unsponsored, but I would personally call their products life-changing, and well worth the price. (Note: I'm more than happy to review each product separately if there's enough interest!)
If you’re a gym-junkie and will be maintaining a moderate training regime throughout your healing, I would also prioritise the magnesium, zinc and glutamine for recovery and to give your body a greater chance at managing the demands of training on a stressed system (note: it’s up to your discretion and the advice of a professional to determine whether you should still be training right now).
So what is my supplement stack right now?
I feel like a bit of a pill popping junkie, but right now here’s what I’m doing:
So far, I am noticing a huge difference in how my body feels after implementing this supplement routine for 2 weeks now. I’m sleeping so much better (honestly it’s been amazing), my anxiety during the day is much more manageable (before this I was literally jumping out of my skin at the smallest of sounds I was that on-edge), and I can feel myself breathing more steadily and feeling more at ease. Physically, the inflammation around my gut as decreased a little, and I'm feeling lighter and holding on to less water!
I feel really hopeful that all these extra investments into my daily routine will pay-off, and I can’t wait to prove to myself and to my specialists that I can heal myself naturally - and make a comeback feeling stronger and happier than ever before. xx
One of the easiest ways to repair your body after a period of stress or mistreatment is through adequate nutrition and natural supplementation.
Remember though, none of these changes to your diet or the addition of supplements will work if you don’t pair them with proper rest and other necessary lifestyle changes (e.g. more sleep, meditation and the other tips I posted in part one of this blog!) - so implement these steps wisely and be realistic about what they can achieve for you.
Eating to reduce stress and balance hormones.
I’ve always prided myself on my diet and how many healthy foods I consume on a daily basis….but that doesn’t mean my diet has necessarily been ideal or effective in meeting what my body truly needs. The past few weeks have made me realise that there are definitely some tweaks I need to make to my diet, and that I need to start eating more purposefully and mindfully - irrespective of my macros, any preconceived beliefs about ‘clean foods’ or what I see other people eating.
If you’re like me and enjoy investing in your diet and nutrition, then the good news is that you can greatly improve and manage your hormone levels simply by prioritising a diet rich in functional whole foods and a variety of macro and micro nutrients.
While focusing on a diet low in processed foods and high in essential healthy fats, adequate protein and fibrous carbs will be key in balancing your hormones and setting your body up for a successful path toward healing - keep in mind that even the most seemingly insignificant eating habits, certain ingredients lurking in healthy foods, inconsistent blood sugar levels, high levels of inflammation and a history of chronic dieting can all contribute to high cortisol levels and other hormonal imbalances. So don’t underestimate the power of your diet even if you’re already hitting your macros and eating ‘healthy’.
Here's 5 key tips you might need to consider if your body and hormones stops responding positively to your 'healthy' efforts:
Tip #1: Stop under-eating!!
For me personally, my recent hormonal issues came about after a period of complete inconsistency with my diet, and a subtle shift towards lower calories, less carbs and low fat. Even though it wasn’t an intentional shift, it was my way of retaliating and a desperate attempt to gain control in the face of stress and anxiety. Though brief, it was enough to send my body into panic mode. Here's why.
My history of restrictive dieting and disordered eating really took a toll on my body, and I truly believe that if you’ve put your body through anything like this before, it becomes so much more responsive to stress than the ’normal’ stress response most people experience. Our bodies remember past experiences of under-eating, become hyper-sensitive to similar ‘restrictive’ periods, and remain hyper-vigilant and ready to protect themselves in the face of this perceived ‘danger’ and starvation again.
This means even the briefest periods of under-eating can trigger your body to go into overdrive with a heightened fight-or-flight response, initiate a metabolic stress response and trigger a cascade of hormonal imbalances. For me, I notice this pretty quickly - a few days of not eating enough and my digestive system slows down as my body diverts resources elsewhere, my anxiety plays up because my body becomes flooded with stress hormones, and my weight increases due to water retention and inflammation caused by an internal system that’s preparing to fight.
This means that eating enough is your best weapon against a stressed body. It also means that once you're in this state, despite how frightening and counter-intuitive it seems to eat more - it’s possibly one of the most important things you could be doing. In the face of weigh fluctuations, bloating and poor body image caused by a stress body - you have to keep eating and eating enough.
We’re all going to have different needs and minimum calorie intakes, so my only advice is to figure out the tipping point beyond which your body starts to become reactive and hostile. Set this as your absolute minimum daily intake, and aim to eat beyond this each day. It’s going to be a mind-game, and it might not be comfortable, but trust me - you can’t combat stress with more stress, and your body is only going to trust you once it perceives that you’re nourishing it well and realises that it doesn’t need to hold on to everything to protect you.
Work with your body, not against it, and always give it enough fuel to keep you thriving.
Tip #2: Keep your diet simple, minimally processed and balanced
Once you have a rough idea of how much your body needs, start prioritising the foods that give you the biggest bang for buck - and don’t fall into the trap of mindlessly eating to ‘fit your macros’ or relying on empty calories to sustain you.
And lastly, don’t think you can’t eat the foods you love. Eating wisely and eating to meet your body’s needs during this time also includes eating for enjoyment. Your favourite treat or a meal enjoyed out with your loved ones is only going to benefit you by relieving some stress and fulfilling your soul. So make sure you’re getting some of those ‘feel-good’ foods in your body too!
Tip #3: Eat consistently, regularly and with a purpose
You could be eating the most ‘perfect’ diet, hitting all your macro and micronutrient needs and still not be eating optimally for your body and for your hormones.
Why? Because you’re underestimating the importance of consistency and optimal meal timing to get the most out of what you’re eating. Yes, your overall weekly calorie intake is going to be most important, but that doesn’t mean that how you choose to consume those calories throughout the day/week don’t matter.
(Quick note: I am by no means wanting to create more ‘food rules’ for anyone - especially because most of us here are probably trying desperately to rid ourselves of such rules. So keep in mind that these aren’t ‘rules’ or ‘have to’s’ - they’re just little ways that you can make sure you’re giving your body the best support you can to restore itself.)
You don’t need to eat every X hours every single day - realistically, it’s not going to be possible for most of us to always get a healthy meal in at routine times throughout the day. What I can suggest though, is to always have a balanced meal or snack on hand so that your body isn’t going hours without any nutrients or fuel.
In a healthy system, meal timing may not be as important - but for a stressed system, it could potentially make or break you. Personally, I know I f*cked myself over by neglecting the importance of eating enough throughout the day, and getting in a bad habit of ‘hoarding’ my macros till the end of the day. I stopped giving my body the fuel it needed when it needed it most (e.g. in the morning and post-workout) and instead filled up with food right before bed. The result was inconsistent blood sugar levels, low energy, increased cortisol production and poor sleep due to indigestion and insulin spikes at night.
To keep this short: eat when your body needs it most, eat when you feel hungry, eat to perform and to function well, and don’t assume that your body will ‘know’ that it will eventually obtain it’s daily macro/calorie needs just because you know it will. Fasting and letting yourself go hungry and engaging in under-eating and over-eating cycles aren’t giving your body any positive signals - so don’t leave your body guessing, and remember to feed it with consistent nurturing and trust.
Tip #4 Cut back on the excessive consumption of caffeine
Ok, I’m keeping this really short because this is my least favourite tip.
Unfortunately, stimulants like caffeine are not conducive to a relaxed and restorative central nervous system.
I know how hard it is - especially when your body starts to crash and fatigue more and more, and the temptation to rely on stimulants to simply get through the day becomes increasingly appealing and comforting - but it’s really not at all beneficial for your body right now.
I try to remind myself that every single time I drink coffee, I’m encouraging my body to release cortisol. This is the last thing I really want to be doing right now, since cortisol is 90% of the reason why I’m feeling so sh*t. So for me, anything more than 1/2-1 serve of caffeine a day honestly isn’t worth it.
My advice is to just pick your poison and set yourself some boundaries without skimping on too much enjoyment. If you have to have your daily pre-workout, caffeine/energy drink or coffee, try to keep it under 250mg worth of caffeine, time it wisely (e.g. pre-workout or before midday, not before bed or after a workout when your cortisol is already heightened), savour it and then have some fun trying alternatives like Chai, Beetroot Latte’s and other herbal drinks.
Tip #5: Don’t overthink it and trust that your body will tell you what it needs
My last tip is this: eat what makes your body feel good.
Yes, we have to be mindful and proactive with our diet - especially now while we try to restore our hormones, but we shouldn’t be becoming more strict or stressed about our diet. I initially fell into the trap of imposing all these rules on myself and spending hours dwelling on whether I was eating the right things to heal my hormones. I became even more stressed and completely self-sabotaged my efforts.
Take a step back, and focus on what you can do to optimise your diet in a way that’s sustainable, realistic and enjoyable.
For me, I’ve taken this as an opportunity to try new meals and combinations to get more nutrients and variety in my diet, I’ve found a routine of consistent meal times that leave me feeling satisfied and at ease throughout the day, and I’m slowly becoming more and more confident that I’m giving my body what it needs to heal.
There will be days where you f*ck up and drink 3 coffees, where you don’t have time to eat and go hours without a meal and when you eat something that your body is insensitive/intolerant to….learn to accept some ‘misses’ in your diet, move on and make sure your next meal or next day is better for it.
This isn’t going to be a quick fix or smooth journey, so the best you can do is to be consistent, be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself.
Eat like you love your body - not like you’re disappointed in it, and eat with positive intentions - not with an intention to control or manipulate your body. It’ll feed off whatever you give it….so feed it wisely.
Part 3 on supplements to heal a stressed body will be coming soon! xx
If you're like me and have (stupidly) run yourself to the ground in an endless pursuit to go hard, do more, push to the extremes and see results, then here's our game plan.
First and foremost, we have to do two things.
Arguably the first and most important change we need to make is the way we're thinking and talking to ourselves. We're clearly engaging in some less than healthy behaviours for a reason - and I bet it's because we're either unhappy with ourselves, we're feeling insecure, or we're chasing a very disordered approach to health.
I've had to make a huge reassessment of my habits and dig deep to figure out the 'why' behind a lot of the 'healthy habits' I engage in. Here's an example;
Am I training hard 5-6x a week because I love training and how it makes me feel, or because I'm still trying to burn calories, alter my appearance and deal with some underlying unhappiness with my appearance and frustrations in my life?
......I know exactly why I train intensely every single day....and while I genuinely do love working out - it's often not my main motivator. I don't love feeling exhausted, sore and anxious at the end of the week when I've successfully pushed through all my gruelling sessions. I just love knowing I've pushed hard and satisfied the voice in my head that's searching for control or stress relief.
I admit that the 'burn' of a workout is still a big motivator for me, and it's because I still yearn for a sense of control over my body, a desire to 'get smaller/leaner' and an outlet for my depression and anxiety. So, I obviously still suffer from a very disordered mind, and it's tearing all my efforts of achieving a healthier life apart.
You can't hate yourself happier or healthier, and you definitely can't combat stress and exude health with a mind that's thriving off chaos and angst, so here's my advice:
Lifestyle and habit changes
Once you've laid down the groundwork to a healthier mind, you'll be in a much better frame of mind to actually start implementing some better behaviours for your body.
When you've come to peace with the fact that less is more and that you can't simply force your body into submission through a punishing regime - you'll be able to shift focus toward trialling and adopting new strategies for getting your body and health back to feeling their best. Personally, here are some of the changes I'm making to achieve my killer comeback:
Prioritise sleep and rest: Sleep is one of the best antidotes for a stressed body and the foundation to a healthy lifestyle - so embracing quality sleep habits and routines will be crucial to healing your body and getting your metabolism firing and hormones functioning optimally again (especially stress and reproductive hormones!). Again, working with a peaceful mind will help you achieve better sleep, and with better sleep will come better digestion, improved energy and moods, more fulfilling gym sessions and working days, and your body will start to function as it should. Do not skimp on sleep.
Train smarter, not harder: It may seem really counter-intuitive (and frustrating) to slow down or switch up your exercise pace to improve your body composition and overall health, but this is important. Depending on your specific hormonal issues, the way you train is most likely going to have to change. For me, I need to focus on reducing cortisol and maximising testosterone production during training - which means all my energy needs to go into resistance training, compound moves, a shorter overall workout duration and any cardio I do needs to be intense, to the point and very minimal. No more 2 hour long workouts or 45 minute long cardio sessions. The aim is to build our bodies back up, not tear them down any further. Remember, exercise is still a source of stress for our bodies, so implement it wisely and make sure it leaves you feeling stronger and happier - not more worn out.
Prioritise one act of self-care a day: When your body is run down, your head is feeling overwhelmingly chaotic and tumultuous, it's easy to dwell in self-pity and neglect yourself. You feel like sh*t, so you treat yourself like it. It's a vicious cycle, and it needs to stop. Your body needs some extra pampering and self-love right now more than ever - so don't let your mind convince you otherwise.
Release some endorphins with some feel-good practices like a warm bath, a night curled up on the couch watching your favourite TV show, a face mask etc.... Put in some time each day to make yourself feel better - because it will work. The better you start feeling, the more motivated you'll be to keep working to feel this way in the long-term.
Spend time with the right people, doing the things you want to do: Don't make yourself your last priority, make yourself too busy with commitments or say 'yes' to any social event or activity that won't serve your or leave you feeling any better for it. Engage in things that nourish you, not drain you even further. This can be a tough one to learn, but I promise you, you're not being selfish. You need you on your side first and foremost right now, and you need you in your best state to get through this and heal. Anyone or anything that triggers you, burdens you or sucks up your energy is not for one second worth your time. Instead, prioritise the friends and activities that leave you feeling that little bit lighter, more optimistic and more elated. These are the feelings that you need to release your body of some stress and sadness.
Eat with structure, purpose and ease: Eat for your body, eat regular meals, and eat in a way that causes you as little stress as possible. Don't get sucked into specific diets, rigid meal plans or start to restrict your intake because you're desperate for a means to feel in control. Remember: your body can't heal if you don't fuel it with what it needs to do so. This one is a BIG one, so stay tuned for part 2, where I'll discuss specific dietary changes and supplements that can help heal a stressed body....
For now, please remember; you and only you can build yourself back up again. This is YOUR comeback and your chance to bring back that healthy, thriving body you deserve. So put the work, time and most importantly, the love in to get there xx
My body composition has taken a hit recently, and while I don’t want to get hung up on aesthetics and rely on my physical appearance to determine my health and happiness - I do want to accept and acknowledge that how my body looks now is not because I’ve gained healthy/necessary weight or because I've treated my body well.
I want to dedicate some time to explaining how stress affects how we look - because lets face it, if there’s one thing that will scare most of us into positive change, it’s knowing the effect it’s having on something we all admittedly place (too much) importance on.
Current body composition
The way my body looks now doesn’t come down to my ‘clean’ and nutritious diet.
It doesn’t reflect my commitment to the gym and training.
It doesn’t emulate self-care, love or confidence.
Instead? It’s rapidly showing all the signs of a body that has been worn down by chronic stress and mistreatment.
History of stress
I’ve got a pretty bad history of abusing my body with self-destructive behaviours.
I grew up over-eating, eating with no care for nutrition, filling up on ‘junk’ food and being inactive.
I then endured a restrictive eating disorder, experienced malnutrition and basically starved my body from all nutrients, energy and sustenance.
I’ve over-exercised to the point of osteopenia, chest pains, injury and adrenal fatigue….and experienced multiple bouts of burn outs time and time again.
Up until recently, I’d really started to get a grip on my health and treating my body well.
My eating had improved dramatically - I’ve achieved a really amazing balance of eating the right foods, in the right amounts, with very few restrictions or hang-ups over food.
My training had been the best it’s been - still perhaps a little too much, but half of what I used to do and done with exceedingly healthier intentions.
Current experience with stress
So what changed?
Around 2 months ago, my work load and career became more demanding and I started to experience a few personal stressors I’d never had to deal with before. Subconsciously I began to revert to old ‘comforting’ behaviours in a bid to feel more in control and ‘productive’ in the face of all this extra stress.
All of a sudden, my carb macros were becoming lower and lower, I was chasing an excessive calorie burn in the gym, I was favouring cardio over weight-training, I wasn’t sleeping enough, and when I did sleep it was restless and interrupted. I started to de-prioritise my eating, and my meals became inconsistent. I went hours without eating most days, I over-ate and under-ate, I started drinking more coffee and diet coke in a desperate effort to feel energised, and I started internalising a lot of pressure from social media that I ‘had’ to get my period back, to look a certain way, and to maintain some kind of #fitspo ideal.
I was dealing with all these stressors - some I wasn’t even consciously aware of - and I kept trying to push through it and ‘deal with it’. In the process, I endowed even more stress on my body and completely over-worked my nervous system.
Signs of an overly stressed system
Slowly, the initial ‘high’ of all the nervous energy and stress hormones began to wear off.
Unfortunately, I ignored a lot of these signs my body was throwing me, and instead of taking them as an indication that I needed to slow down and rest, I perceived what was happening in my body as a sign of weakness and vowed to push even harder.
I felt like my body was attacking me….when perhaps it was just retaliating because it felt like I was attacking it.
A few weeks on from this tug-of-war between me and my body, and here’s where I’m at.
Mental and physical symptoms aside, I visibly look flat and ‘fluffy’ - and here’s why.
Is stress making me ‘fat'?!
I’ve essentially flooded by body with stress hormones, causing a complete imbalance in my body as it fights to deal with the physical and psychological stress I’ve placed upon it.
My last blood test from December showed extremely high levels of cortisol, low oestrogen, low progesterone and extremely low testosterone. What does all this mean for my body composition?
To keep it really simple, when we’re stressed our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone secreted by the body to provide energy to get through (what it perceives to be) an emergency. The body senses the stress as danger or a threat, and calls for quick energy to fight or flight. To produce quick energy, it calls on cortisol to release and break down stored protein and fat for readily available blood glucose. Chronic stress then causes an ongoing build up of this blood glucose - most of which our bodies don’t ‘burn off’ as we fight our stressors. So we end up with excess sugars in our system - which is eventually stored as fat….all the while our muscles are being broken down and literally wasting away.
To make matters worse, fat cells in our stomach are more sensitive to cortisol - meaning that all this extra fat storage tends to transpire on the one area of our bodies most of us are most self-conscious about and fixated on. I can honestly say that my stomach right now is undeniably flabby - and I’m not just saying that from a place of being overly self-critical. It’s exceedingly evident and wholly uncomfortable. I wish I had the courage to share the ‘before’ photos I took the other day to prove it, but I’ll save that for when I’ve really got a healthy ‘after’ photo to show. For now, take my word - a stressed body isn’t a healthy looking one…especially when it comes to lower belly flab, back fat and depleted muscles.
What can I do to lower cortisol and get my body healthy again?!
So, as my cortisol levels have increased, my body has gained fat and lost muscle - with no increases in my intake or decreases in my expenditure or effort in the gym to justify it. Great.
As someone who has always thrived off being ‘in control’ of my body and chasing a ‘lean’ physique, to all of a sudden ‘lose progress’, observe noticeable increases in fat and scale weight despite all my efforts to maintain my aesthetics…has been f*cking terrifying, frustrating and miserable to say the least.
It’s a lesson well learned for me though - and a very unfriendly reminder that perhaps I’ve never been chasing health for the right reasons or in the right ways.
Which means I need to make some big, scary changes to get this all under control and to truly heal my body and my attitude toward it.
Like I mentioned in my first 'Update' post, my gut instinct has been to slash my calories and increase my cardio to ‘burn off’ the extra fat and weight I’ve gained….but logic reminds me that drastically reducing my calories will just trigger my body to produce more cortisol..and so the cycle continues.
Instead, there’s a few more beneficial and scientically-backed things I’ve already begun implementing, along with a range of other things I’m looking into - lifestyle changes, mental health work, supplementation and diet tweaks. I’ll cover them all in a separate blog post, so leave a comment as to which one you want me to address first!
They’re all equally important, and all equally focused on two main goals:
Let’s just say I've got a lot of work to do…so let’s do this x
I feel like I’ve been engulfed by a big cloud of sadness and frustration for so many weeks now, and I’m torn between wanting to hide away or to just be honest and upfront with how all this mental stress has affected my physical health.
I’m not going to beat around the bush - I've been experiencing daily bouts of diarrhoea, my lower abdomen and back are constantly distended, I'm holding onto so much water, I’ve consistently been gaining weight, I’ve visibly lost muscle and I’ve gained fat.
None of this has been in a controlled, healthy or desirable manner.
Yes - weight gain has been a goal of mine for a few years now following my ED, but this recent gain has felt nothing like the gain’s I’ve achieved for myself in the past.
This is my body sending me a sign that something is wrong - this is not my body thriving.
Weight gain has always been something I've associated with fear - but throughout recovery from my ED it was also something I happily came to experience could be accompanied with improvements in my physical and mental health.
This time around though? My energy levels haven’t increased, my strength hasn’t improved, my moods are lower than ever, and I just don’t feel healthy. I feel like I’ve completely lost control of my body and no matter how diligent and consistent I remain with my eating and my training - I’m losing all feeling of wellbeing, fitness and happiness.
My gut instinct is to slash my calories and to add more cardio to “strip away” this uncomfortable new space I’ve come to fill. I can’t even explain how f*cking hard I’ve fought to not give in and do just that. The mental battle of NOT relapsing has been exhausting as it is, but I’m fighting even harder than just "pushing through" and barely keeping my head above water. I’m taking action and proving to myself that what I need now is ENOUGH food, and MORE rest (see my post on Cortisol and Body Composition to explain why)
I need to step back, and accept that my body is acting out of stress and fear. It’s literally protecting itself from me, and while it’s the most disheartening realisation ever, it's also liberating to know that it's up to me to change this.
So, the solution now is to be loving and proactive and to show my body with consistent action that I really do want it to heal and to regain it’s strength and vigour again. Yes, I've put it through years of destruction, hatred and careless disregard.....but that's all about to change.
I'm writing a separate post on tips for reducing cortisol/stress, regaining self-love and rebalancing my hormones, but for now, here's a brief run down of what I'm prioritising:
There's more detail to come, but basically, I’m doing what I can to push through this little revolt my body has thrown against me, and I’m getting it back on my side again.
My body has endured chronic stress, so now it needs to experience persistent and ongoing rest, love, compassion and patience - something that feels mentally foreign, but also overwhelmingly right.
Nothing changes if nothing changes.....so here's to turning over a new chapter of true health and happiness with my body xx