At one point in time, I really had it all together. At least I looked like I did.
I had a high-paying corporate job, a regular CrossFit practice, a yoga teaching gig, and a volunteer position at a beloved organization called Young Life. I did everything I could to live a healthy and balanced life. I even wrote a health blog to prove it.
But I felt boring and super stressed. Despite my self-proclaimed "healthy" lifestyle, I sure felt sick a lot. I had horrible stomach pains every day, I cried after almost every CrossFit sesh, and honestly, I really hated teaching yoga (and eating Paleo).
Plus, on my ever-enlightening road to health, I decided to ditch my birth control pill. But afterward, my period never came back. Wait, what?! I was shocked. I could not for the life of me understand why my body was failing me: I was so darn healthy, yet there I found myself — sitting on that crinkly, doctor's table paper, only to be told I needed to get back on birth control pills to restart my period. But why couldn't I menstruate on my own? I didn't understand.
Apparently, I was infertile, had amenorrhea, polycystic ovaries, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, you name it.
With few options, I decided to head out on my own and try the diet and lifestyle route. "Maybe I'm not healthy enough yet," I rationalized, "Maybe I needed even more green juices, even more vegan food. Maybe I needed to workout harder or run farther. Maybe I just really needed to kick this whole health thing up a notch."
I'll tell you right now that did me no favors. My life just became rigid and more stressful.
So after nothing seemed to be working, I kind of gave up. Just for a second. After the umpteenth book didn't do me a whole lot of good, I landed on Christiane Northrup's anthology Women's Health, Women's Wisdom, and man did my world open right on up. It wasn't just about what I was eating or how much I was sweating during exercise. In fact, as I read the pages over and over again, I realized that maybe I actually needed to deconstruct everything I had ever learned about health.
At first there was a lot of "quitting" involved, which took effort. I quit the gym, quit CrossFit, quit movement all together really. Then I quit teaching yoga. I quit volunteering for Young Life. I even quit making plans with friends. My calendar suddenly had white space in it! And lots of it. I even asked my boss if I could work four days a week instead of five for personal reasons, and he said yes. What I needed was not more green juice or exercise, but time. With all this time, I ovulated for the first time in a year.
With all this white space in my calendar, I finally had access to my inner voice again and really heard what she had to say. I didn't like what had been happening. My inner-critic was spouting an endless stream of "you're not worth it" and other self-loathing thoughts. My soul had grown tired of defending me. No wonder my endocrine system had shut down!
Suddenly I realized that my lack of self-worth was contributing to just about every poor habit I had put in place, consciously or not. I climbed the corporate ladder to try and feel better about myself, I worked out to feel prettier, I did yoga to feel more spiritual, and volunteered to feel worthy of respect. In short, I overbooked my life to overcompensate for my doubt.
Not only that, but I was blaming my body for "not working" properly. I was trying to "fix it." But our bodies don't need to be fixed, they need to be loved. Just as plants flourish and grow taller with sun, water and nutrients, our bodies thrive when they feel nourished and cared for.
So I decided to stop blaming myself, and my body. I began to believe that if I wasn't menstruating it was for a good reason. Through that acceptance, I showed myself self-trust. I surrendered and I gave the rest of my healing journey up. I ovulated again, for the second time.
Now practicing self-love and with way more free time in my calendar, I've started to hear the heartstrings of my soul anew — this time without constant commentary from my inner critic. They started as whispers: to ditch my health books in favor of Young Adult fiction novels; to sing show tunes in the shower; to walk barefoot in the park.
Eventually the whispers became roars and these little pleasures gave birth to bigger ones. I jumped into a pool, even with my fanciest dress on, just because I felt like swimming. I took up harp lessons. I baked cakes, wore high heels, and bought myself sexy lingerie.
Slowly, I fell in love with my life. Oh yeah, and I healed my body in the process. I now have lovely regular cycles that follow the phases of the moon and a business I can't help but be, well, over the moon for. In the process of healing my life, I healed my body. It was much more fun that way anyway.