Never in a million years would I have seen where my paleo journey would’ve taken me.
It was always about getting fit and slim using diet and excercise. My entire life has revolved around this goal. Sadly, I’ve never attained the image I have in my mind of what I think my body should look like. Looking back now, I can see what a tragedy it was to have never accepted my body for what it is.
Eating better was also about healing inflammation in my body since I was only in my late 20s when arthritis blew up everywhere. Prescription drugs for 40 or 50 years? Not. Even then, in the beginning of paleo eating I really didn’t understand the significance of my diet over my health.
Yet, where paleo has led me is in the most unexpected terrain. I have learned about the importance of quality food grown locally: both good for the body and the earth. I have learned of the harm mainstream foods can do to people and how blinded we are. I have learned how vital our diets are to our well-being. It blows my mind to have seen the impact food has made over my health, both physical and mental. And my son’s. Blows my mind!
(I dare you to find out)
Yet in spite of all that, where I’ve landed due to starting paleo is most unexpected. Because I’m still not well in spite of a good diet and decent exercise. For the last year I’ve largely blamed myself and criticized everything I possibly could be doing wrong. Shocking, but that only made me worse. Where I need to heal is, um, in my mind. My husband would laugh, saying that he knew all along that my mind was a crazy place. But seriously, I had no idea of the damage I was doing to myself by believing that inner voice of judgement and criticism. And it’s a real mean one.
I had no idea that what is impacting my health the most was the judgement and hatred over my chubbiness, more so than the overindulgence on cookies.
No idea that the fear and anxiety I let go rampant was way more unhealthy than the bag of chips I may have eaten. Fear and anxiety are familiar ground for me, living in them is a way of ‘holding it together’ because I would take actions in my life to guard against whatever I was afraid of. Which for me, in the last few years, revolves around my tiny son. I somehow believed that fear was somehow my friend because it caused me to be wired and research and prepare and protect. Yet that same fear and anxiety often clouded my times with my son because every time I looked at him I expected something awful to happen. I thought I was on guard to protect tragedy. Even prepared in case whatever I feared came true. In reality I was guarding myself from fully enjoying my son, and all that is in my life, as well as causing my body great stress.
I’ll never forget what my naturopath doctor said to me once when I was hysterical from a horrible stretch of insomnia. She told me that the ‘freaking out’ I allowed myself to do was way more damaging that the actual lack of sleep. And I say ‘allowed’ on purpose. It may be hard to believe, but every thought and feeling that courses through our bodies are a result of a choice we’ve made. Every. Single. One.
Our bodies are wired to deal with stress in one way. The body doesn’t care if the stress came from the semi truck barreling down on you, or the lion that is about to eat you, the insecurity over fat thighs, or the fear of losing your son. Real or not, the brain perceives the threat, that the body is unsafe, and all kinds of processes are triggered in your body to keep you alive. But it was only meant to deal with occasional threats, not the chronic and daily stress we all face. While the body is in stress mode, there is no repair and healing going on, either. The body is just trying to survive.
“Promoting health of the body without encouraging health of the mind is an exercise in futility. Not until we realize that our bodies are mirrors of our interpersonal, spiritual, professional, sexual, creative, financial, environmental, mental, and emotional health will we truly heal.” - Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
Here in my crazy mine, I’m learning how to rest. Truly rest.
I’m learning to let go and truly trust my Creator. It all belongs to the One who is actually able to care for it all.
I’m learning to give myself grace. Surprisingly, saying to yourself, “Oh sweetie, you’re doing the best you know how” can go a long way to soothing distress over a disappointment or a mistake. Truly, I’m just human. Another shocker, I know.
I’m learning to treasure being just in this moment. With the every day normal. Often that is where I find true beauty.
Never again will I be forever trapped in my mind’s fear or insecurity. Don’t doubt that they still creep up on me, but I’m getting better at catching it.