From head in the sand to authenticity: putting my health first

My theme for 2019 is to be more authentic.

Let me back track a little. 

For me, 2018 represents the year that I made my health my number one priority.

It's far easier to say that you prioritise your health than to really do it. I'll admit to this. It's been about 7 years since I decided to really focus on my training and nutrition. In that time, I believed that I put my health first. I ate plenty of real, nutrient-dense foods, and limited processed and refined foods. I cooked my food, tracked my macros and I didn't miss meals. I only used selected supplements for a purpose to complement a particular training phase. I diligently eliminated unnecessary chemicals from my daily life. I trained consistently and I didn't skip my rest days. I identified and managed any aches or niggles in my body. I balanced my studies / day job. I scheduled in 8 hours of sleep each night. I walked each day to keep active. I paid attention to my body and adjusted things to continue to move closer to my goals to build a leaner and stronger body.

If you'd asked me at any time from 2012 until 2018, I'd tell you confidently that I prioritised my health.

I did a lot of things right. But I also failed to see a lot of other things that I really should have. It's far easier to put your head in the sand and ignore the things that you'd rather not see.

In 2018, I finally paid attention to the things that I had ignored for too long. 

Like the glaring issue of my complete absence of periods after stopping the Pill - not after just a couple of months of stopping the pill, but after 15 months and counting.

Like my fear that my body had adapted to its current, imbalanced state and the reality that I couldn't ever uncover the reason(s) for my lack of cycle, especially because I was on the Pill for so long and this would have masked it. Would I ever resume a natural cycle? And if not, what does this mean for my health, my training and my plans to compete?

I faced many things about my personality and mental state that I routinely justified as just 'part of my personality' rather than things I desperately needed to manage. 

Like my inability to shut off and control my Type A, highly structured tendencies.

My amped brain at night.

My constant edginess.

My deep anxieties about my body image.

My obsessive mindset to eating. 

I didn't realise the full might of the mental monsters that resided in me until I challenged each one. I still struggle with these things. But I have cultivated the perspective and tools to diffuse and tame them before they consume me.

I accepted that for me to actually prioritise my health, I'd need to put it ahead of things that I had tried to defend as essential elements of my life. 

Ahead of my desire to compete, at least for the time being. And realising that 'not now' does not mean 'not ever'.

Ahead of my visible abs. 

Ahead of my desire to train more and train harder.

Ahead of any late nights, lack of sleep, grinding instead of recovering.

Ahead of a 'more is better' mentality. 

These things aren't the opposite of health. But for my body at that time, I could see the cracks in my foundation. I realised that I had to confront that first.

It bothers me that I don't really share this story. My head and spirit are so full of things to say. I've learned so many things about my mind and body. There's so many times that I've felt frustrated, anxious and hopeless. I think it's important to talk about the difficult things instead of just the successes. It's not healthy to only tune in to the social media 'highlights' reel.

But it's the body's ability to heal that's really inspired me. My mission for my body has been to seek out the best information from the best people and then personalise and apply it. And even after finding information that's reliable and up to date, the practical application depends on your unique body and its history. 

It's taken time and patience, but I've seen my body begin to rebalance itself. It's incredible. It's also been sadly vindicating, because my journey and my results completely contradict the medical opinions, scepticism and prescriptions I obtained. A 28 year old female body should at least have the chance to heal before it defaults to popping synthetic hormones for the rest of its life. 

I'm so grateful that I didn't take that route. Because after a year of frustration and baby steps, I can honestly say I've never felt better. Sure, some days are better than others, and I'm not quite there yet (if 'there' is a place that it's possible to reach.) But I'm undoubtedly physically and mentally stronger, happier, more introspective and focused. And I'm more ready than ever to do incredible things.