Updated: Sep 26, 2020
‘I used to recognise myself… how and when did my reflection change so much? Who is that person?’ Catching your reflection unexpectedly in a shop window, finding yourselves tagged in an unsuspecting photo on a work night out…or simply seeing yourself as if for the first time in the bathroom mirror in the cold light of day. These bodies we have become so comfortably accustomed to roaming around in, suddenly become a surprisingly unfamiliar stranger. A running narrative starts questioning this case of stolen identity. Our body’s change shape, limber limbs stiffen, our shapely trunks thicken, like the trunk of a tree laying down concentric rings year on year. The real slap in the face is that it’s not just our physicality that can become a stranger to us, but also the person inhabiting this unrecognisable body. Who is this tired, fatigued, anxious person? When did my tolerance to the challenges of life become so short and snappy? Health-struggles, aches and pains, migraines or sleep issues become the norm…but when did this happen? You hardly recognise yourself from the vibrant, youthful individual who once bounced through the day full of optimism, ideals and skinny jeans. Brimming with hope and unbridled certainty that the world is there for the taking. You are left wondering, when exactly did you become accidentally unwell?
This is exactly where I found myself a few months after giving birth to my second child. Having worked as a health professional for years, I prided myself on being a passionate advocate of a healthy diet and lifestyle and felt confident that I knew the choices I had been making were adding to my health. However, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with what I felt was like a blatant betrayal of my body. I was giving it what it needed, so then why was it being so difficult?! So defiant? The reality was, I was following my strong beliefs about what I thought was a healthy diet, the paradigm I had created and had been following for many years, believing I knew what it was to ‘be healthy.’ The results of which were speaking for itself. I was tired…all of the time. Exhausted. I was anaemic, short of breath, I felt like I could never get enough air into my lungs no matter how deeply I breathed. I suffered with palpitations and erratic heartbeats, I was struggling to sleep and was living on a short fuse, ready to snap at any point. None of this ideal, especially when you have an energetic and inquisitive three-year-old, a three-month-old baby and a business to run.
I felt like I’d lost who I was. The happy, vibrant, full-of-life individual that I had known for most of my adult life had not surfaced in some time. I knew she was in there, begging me to rescue her, to revive her, to breathe life back into the person I knew I was. My frustration towards not feeling how I expected to feel was only amplified by the fact that I was ‘trying’ so hard to be healthy. So why did I feel so bad? Why did my body not feel like my own? Why could I not control the feelings of anger that could spring up at any given moment? The feelings of guilt for not being able to control the feelings of anger were a predictable follow on…all washed down with a healthy dose of exhaustion surmounted to feelings of immense failure being my constant companion. The pain of living this way had become so insufferable that in the end it became the leverage I needed to seek out an alternative. What if I had been wrong, what if my body needed something that it wasn’t getting? Surely, if I was giving my body everything it needed, I wouldn’t feel this way? I knew my body had the innate intelligence to find balance, homeostasis, to find wellbeing when provided with what was necessary for health. I didn’t, at that point, know what changes I needed to make, but I knew I had to make them.
I reassured myself that I would find the answer, that I would pull myself out of this rut. My struggle would become my advantage. It would become my strength. I knew I would find a better way of serving myself so that I could once again thrive and restore the energy that I so desperately wanted to feel coursing through my body, waking me up to life again.
I did what I knew best, I researched, I read and I looked for answers. Instantly my anger relaxed, my frustration started to wane and the toxic running commentary in my mind quietened. I objectively looked at what I was doing at the time, eating a vegetarian diet, gluten-free but packed with carbohydrates, oats, grains, brown rice, dates, anything sweet that I could dress up as ‘healthy’. It dawned on me that I was a complete sugar addict. I started looking to my cellular physiology for guidance, what my body fundamentally needed to be healthy and to thrive.
As a science geek I had always known that food can either be the most powerful source of healing or the slowest form of poison. My problem was I had placed my nutritional ladder up against the wrong wall. I was systematically following a dietary lifestyle that was not working for me, my cellular physiology, my mental wellbeing or for my energy. Step by step I was climbing the ladder to a sicker, increasingly tired body and deflated mind. Things had to change...and they did.
Extract taken from Primal Living in a Modern World