Over the last 50 something years, I have been through a lot with my body. It has grown up with me from the time of conception, it has gotten me out of threatening situations, helped me to achieve certain aspirations, shown me many, many beautiful sights, and so much more. We have been on emotional journeys together, my body adjusting with each of those long-term emotions. We have together faced an unhealthy relationship with food, and we have together acknowledged and understood that relationship. We have also acknowledged and understood the previously unhealthy relationship we once had with each other. Today we celebrate a healthy relationship, we celebrate each other, give gratitude for each other, and we accept each other just as we are.
I fully accept that when my body changes, there is a reason for it, and I give gratitude and honour the way it responds in such a loving and protective manner. Sometimes, we may have the occasional disagreement, however we work it through together and always agree to come to an understanding.
The imagery of media and pressure of societal expectations may have you feeling confused about my words. I understand, allow me to explain.
In the words of Mooji, my body is a container, “I” am not the body, and the body is not me. Depak Chopra explains that the body is a vessel, an ever-changing multiverse. My body now, is not the same body I had when I was born. Each cell of our body is short lived, new cells are born each moment, old ones die off. We have a whole new set of skin cells within the timeframe of a month, and a new liver within 6 weeks. Studies show that the lungs can repair and regenerate themselves after trauma. Understanding these facts, literally changed the way I live my life and the way I think about wellbeing.
I had never had a healthy relationship with my body, nor with food. Ever since young adolescence the emotions I felt created a destructive relationship with food, one of binge eating and bulimic behaviour. My body responding (for many, many years) to the self-loathing thoughts and actions in a yoyo effect of weight gain and loss. Once I began to understand the ongoing rebuilding of my body, I saw that within this space were the answers to replenishing myself, setting me up on a journey to wellbeing.
It was during this time that I acknowledged how my relationship with food had become destructive. I understood why I felt the need to consistently sabotage myself and my body. I also learnt to acknowledge my body and all that it has done and does for me. Without it, I am unable to enjoy the pleasures of life and yes that does include great food! I learnt to become comfortable with my body the way that it is, accepting any and all perceived flaws, acknowledging that those perceived ‘imperfections’ are all an idealism created by media, social expectations and self-expectations.
Today, I sit in a place I call our own wee piece of paradise. We are nearing the end of a journey we began over six months ago when we decided to pack up, sell, and give away, the life we had created around and for our children 20 something years ago, choosing to move to this land of the Gold Coast. We have faced a number of different challenges in the last 6 months or more. Each challenge bringing with it new observations and new learnings. One observation I had made, was the way my body reacted to the stress. Despite the overwhelm, despite the constant pressure of whanau members (friends & family) questioning our sanity of mind, despite the occasional fleeting moments of fear, despite the extra challenges that were thrown at us, I did manage to keep my mind in a positive and calm state. I knew with almost every cell in my body that we were doing the right thing. And despite the fact that I was indeed living this time in everyday practice of what I ‘preach’ - lets face it, selling and buying a house is labelled high on the list of high stress - and my body was absorbing the impact of all this; protecting me. The reaction of my body was to further swell itself into a protective bundle. My clothes became too small, leaving me with very few options for clothing. As I was packing up the boxes for our shipping, I questioned if I should not give away my clothes as I no longer fit them. The answer I received from within, was no. My body was merely protecting me, absorbing all impact of stress and overwhelm. At the time, food was a necessity, often I would forget to eat and ate only because I had to ensure I fed my body sustainable food. So I can’t say that any body mass gain was because of a bad diet. The blessing is that I was aware of what was happening. In place of going into the past habitual self-loathing regime, I was grateful that my body was so respondent, loving and protective.
Upon landing at our destination, I continued to forget to eat until I had rested enough to be clear of mind. Yet right away I noticed the changes in my body. I was quickly able to wear my recently outgrown clothing again. I haven’t considered any kind of diet or new eating regime, I continue to feed my body with the nutrients it needs, just as I have done for some years now. During this last 6 months, I have not changed the way I eat at all, yet my body has gone through dramatic changes.
They say that once a women is in menopause, she has to work so much harder to rid herself of any extra weight. Before I go any further here, I would like to express a disclaimer! My intention is not to offend anyone, these writings are mere observation and opinions of myself. I perceive that many will passionately disagree with me, and I 100% understand that every ‘body’ is different. I deeply empathise with those who experience strong symptoms of menopause and often symptoms can continue for many years. The following are merely thoughts, opinions and observations of my own body.
I do not question if menopause is an actual thing; the feminine body is again going through incredible and wonderous changes. The feminine body, up until menopause has already seen many radical changes in its lifetime. As usual, we all experience the symptoms of these changes differently. So far, since I have become entrenched with emotional wellbeing, I have managed to diffuse any kind of negative symptom my body may expose. I guess menopause was the beginning of these learnings for me. I was experiencing crippling pains within my reproduction system for a number of months. I was swallowing an unhealthy number of pain killers so I could show up to work, refusing to admit to anyone the pain I was enduring. To add to that during this time, I also took a physical jolt to my body resulting in months of pain from the top of my neck to the tip of my toes! Pharmac made a killing from my pain killer purchases in this time!
I was working in tourism at the time, which is probably not a particularly supportive industry. I was under an immense amount of pressure and stress, not only because of the symptoms I was experiencing. As it turns out, it was a profoundly enlightening time for me, and what I was soon able to observe is that the stress and the physical symptoms – albeit menopause or injury, were walking beside each other hand in hand. Since leaving this job and observing the art of emotional wellbeing, I have not experienced any single negative symptom of menopause. I may have endured other minor physical injuries, which force me to observe the emotions around those symptoms allowing me to quickly dissolve any discomfort.
I have digressed, the point which I was originally making is that if my recent weight gain during time of stress was hindered by menopause, how was my body able to release that extra mass without any contribution or effort?
Our relationship with our body is influenced from a young age. If we are able to heal the rift between self and body, if we are able to role model a healthy partnership with our body for the younger generations, maybe we can begin to see an end to self-loathing, and destructive behaviors. I wish to encourage you to check in with your relationship with your own body and observe any changes as you address your emotions.(However, please do not delve into any trauma based emotions on your own, always ensure to seek support when working with trauma based emotions.)
From my heart to yours x