My cross-fit coach recently posted this picture of me on Facebook. My first thought was, “wow, I’ve come a long way in two years.”

Two years ago, I was at a low point, ignoring the big four; diet, exercise (givens), sleep and stress, that I always discuss with my clients.

I tell them that if any of these are out of whack, you will have a hell of a time reaching your goals, whether related to weight loss or mental health! And stress in particular can cause the whole system to go off the rails.

We all talk about stress and say we should address it, but when things start to unravel most of us just focus that much more on exercise and diet to maintain health and weight loss. We hold on tighter and push harder. Self-care and spiritual connection are often completely neglected in the process. It’s a recipe for disaster.

So two years ago, my adrenals, thyroid and mood were in the tank thanks to a perfect storm of emotional and physical stressors. The signs were pretty clear, but…

Adrenal fatigue?

That’s what happens to other people. “I can totally handle this,” I thought to myself.

And then my body told me otherwise, and everything fell apart.

So what happened to me?

Simple: I gained close to 15 pounds in six months despite eating and exercising the same way I had been for the past four years. My mood tanked. My energy tanked. I couldn’t get through a workout, and even when I did, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck for the rest of the day.

Sick baby, potty training twins, studying for school, crossfitting every day and too thin. Perfect storm a-brewing… (2013)

So what were these stressors?  The ones I was ignoring?

Physical stressors:
  • Cross-fitting way too much—we’re talking five to six days a week
  • Likely eating way too low carb considering my exercise amount and intensity
  • Not sleeping well/much due to the emotional stressors I was experiencing
Emotional Stressors:
  • Going back to school full time while still working and taking care of two toddlers who didn’t sleep well
  • Starting a business and website from scratch (and having zero experience with either!)
  • Having a sick kiddo who was admitted to hospital three times in three months

I’m overwhelmed just reading those lists! But instead of easing up, I pushed myself even harder.

I was a nutritionist—an expert! Yet I was gaining weight and couldn’t figure out how to lose it. What were people going to think? (This was typical of my negative self-talk—yikes!)

Desperate to feel better, I listened to everyone but myself

I worked out harder at the gym, I changed gyms, I saw practitioner after practitioner and continued to get varying (often contradictory) opinions on how I should approach my health and weight. I tried every diet challenge, cleanse and detox. I had an entire shelf devoted to supplements.

When none of this worked, I would—in full defeat and dismay—say “F it!” and overeat and drink too much. (Surprise! This didn’t help.)

At a complete stalemate in my business and feeling disgusted with myself physically, I became emotionally MIA from my family as well.

At close to my heaviest weight. This smile is hiding misery and shame. My clothes don’t fit and my face is bloated from eating and drinking too much in face of “nothing’s working so F it!” (NYE 2014)

Utterly exhausted, I finally asked myself what would happen if I stepped away from ALL of this. What would happen if I followed my intuition for my health and with my business?

What if I trusted my body’s innate ability to heal itself.

At the end of my completely frayed rope, I released my death grip and surrendered. I stopped hoping that the next practitioner would have the magic answer. I reduced my medications and supplements to the bare minimum. I listened to my body that was begging for a break and stopped exercising other than walking and yoga (this was a hard one!). I shut down my business except for occasional projects or posts that felt easy and fun. I turned inward and reconnected with myself and my own spirituality and re-evaluated “what it all means.” And for the first time in two years, I felt like I could breathe.

By stepping back, I was able to release all of the ridiculous expectations I’d put on myself. If my health, my family, and my relationships were suffering, they definitely weren’t worth it.

In time (lots of time!), I began to heal. The flames of stress and inflammation began to burn out, and without that constant pulse of cortisol, my appetite regulated, my mood improved and my outlook brightened. I began to sleep better and to feel better. I began to feel like I had control over my life again and that the number one goal was peace in my own mind and contentment in my life. When I finally accepted that and embraced it, things turned around for me.

Easing back into life

After several months, I eased back into the gym. I found a coach who was familiar with adrenal fatigue and women’s hormones related to over-training, and I made him swear he’d tell me if I started to push myself too hard again. Thanks to his masterful coaching, I am now stronger than ever and LOVE my time at the gym. And by the way, I now CrossFit twice a week, strength train one to two times a week and may run or spin an additional day— exercising more is not better, exercising smarter is better.

I eased back into work, and I was pleasantly surprised to have clients knocking on my door! The energy I was putting out had changed so dramatically that the right people were picking up on it and seeking me out. My actions and my message were finally in alignment.  I only accepted only projects that brought me joy. Stress was not allowed to enter the picture.

Finally, I found a way of eating that worked for me and supported my energy, my increasing efforts at exercise, my mood and my sleep. Slowly but surely, I lost the weight.

Even in my darkest days, I knew that this chapter would eventually close and a new one would open. And I am grateful for the experience. I’ve gained wisdom—not only about how I balance my life but also crucial body wisdom.

I actually listen now when my body says to slow down, take a rest day, eat more carbs today, sleep one more hour—and my body has paid me back in kind.

Even better, I am now able to help those in the midst of similar “storms.” I know from experience that there is light at the end of that deep dark tunnel. You can get back to health, get back to peace and ease in your mind and your body. But there is no “quick-fix” or pill for this. Releasing the death-grip and letting time and nature work for you instead of fighting against them is a huge first step. I’d be honored to take that step with you and walk beside you on your journey back to health and happiness.

Feel free to schedule a free discovery call with me so we can connect!