A year back from now, I was undertaking an internship in Spain. Long story short, on an outside level, I was doing what I love, and blessed to be in a beautiful environment filled with opportunity. Inside, I was a mess of chronic illness and inflammation personified! Being persistent enough to finish and complete the internship, but nearly breaking under the stress of daily dysfunction and not telling anyone, coming back home to Geneva and running tests showed a relapse in Grave's disease. Oh, there WAS a physiological reason I felt like that - it wasn't all in my head! ;O
That started the journey of self-healing (Version 2.0) up until now. I realised I had never TRULY allowed myself to heal FULLY, to the fullest extent - the first time I was diagnosed with Grave's I managed to get into a "spontaneous remission" changing my whole lifestyle and priorities without medication, but again just enough and to surface level, and would keep pushing myself to be more, do more when my foundation, my roots, was rocky, to say the least. But well, this time I decided to change that. I am still in the process, but below is a short overview of the Primal Prep series I started around August/September (so 7 months ago), the details of which I have written about in previous posts.
The external change...
The internal change...
So, I may now have a 6-pack, but it really, really has been a BY-PRODUCT of living consistently with my higher values and habits that create a strong, solid foundation of health. This has been so transformational from the inside-out that the external is merely a reflection of the bigger changes on the inside, the relationship to myself and how I relate to reality and the world on the broader perspective.
People post before/after pictures all the time. We see 3 month transformation photos everywhere on the internet, and programmes and training and supplements promising to get you similar results. But when we go into it with the sole motivation to change our external, the underlying internal insecurities will stay, and whether we are lean or not, the relationship we have with ourself, with food, with training will most likely still come from a place of hate, of force, of dissatisfaction.
Instead of being a process of "grinding", or deprivation or extreme dieting and training, this for me has been a process of self-love, self-compassion, self-care and connection to something bigger. As cliché as that may sound, on many levels, this whole process of "getting lean" has really been a process of character development and getting healthy. It's been a process that has happened from the inside-out, and driven from intentions of creating a positive relationship to myself, and positive state on the inside - as much on the mindset, physiological level as on the physical, cellular level.
The perspective and intention we take into a journey like this CAN be empowering, nourishing, loving. Our internal world is just as important as our external, and I believe that one can reflect the other, and addressing both - nourishing ourselves physically and mentally, can result in a harmony of sorts where we shine and radiate from the inside out - and then being lean and having an incredible physique is a byproduct of a healthy and positive internal world (on a cellular and mindset level).
I've gone both way to get lean - balls to the wall intensity, and then this approach, and what this has taught me about the metabolism and hormonal health and overall health in the context of getting lean is super insightful for me. We often hear about the detrimental effects of being "too lean" for females, especially on the menstrual cycle and downstream consequences, etc. AND that some women just are NOT able to get lean, and under a certain body fat percentage, their bodies freak out and go out of homeostasis. And from my previous experience and YEARS of attempting to achieve a certain body composition, I concluded that it just wasn't in my cards. Whenever my body approached 20% body fat and under, my menstruation would stop, my hormones would go haywire, and my cravings would be all over the place.
Well, sitting now at 12% body fat and with the healthiest cycle I've ever had, I am beginning to think it is much more about the approach we take, and context and the consequential nutritional and stress state of the body. Of major consideration is INFLAMMATION - being in a chronic state of inflammation, and extreme exercise and caloric deficit on top perpetuating that by adding stress, I think is a major component. In fact, I can attribute the number one reason for feeling so much better PHYSICALLY is that my inflammation is in check. N =1, of course :=)
It's actually a bit crazy how different I feel as a person, and looking back to just a few months ago.
I cannot even encapsulate in words the changes that have gone on the past few months. From being in a state of complete dysfunction and inflammation and pain and frustration and negative behaviour patterns regarding food and training, and feeling trapped while simultaneously knowing I have a larger mission and purpose to contribute but feeling helpless to do so, it's as if this is the start of a new life
When I look in the mirror, there is no dissonance - I feel in complete integrity with my self image and the reflection that I see. Not only externally because I am completely happy with where I am physically, but because I feel a sense of integration that comes from living in integrity with my values - not perfectly, but consistently.
I finally feel comfortable in my skin - something I have never been able to say before.
(Now my skin just needs some sun! ;D)
Primal Prep - a success? Just the beginning!
There are many, many paths to the same destination. Getting lean, you can deprive yourself, "grind", suffer and run yourself into the ground in some heroic attempt to "prove" you can do it - if you make it, then it certainly proves you have will power... but how long does that last? Getting lean will be a shorter process, but also shorter-lived - and at what cost to health?
Personally, taking a long-term approach has actually brought me the results I had been longing so much for in the past (because damn, I was the person in the scenario above), but paradoxically, it was by LETTING GO of the attachment to those results, and working with my body and psychology that made it happen. And enjoying the process.
Even if I didn't get to 12% body fat, if I was at the psychological and physiological stability and health I feel now, it would still be just as "successful". Being healthy and comfortable in my skin are more important markers to me.
But in essence, this is only the beginning! ;D
What now? G-Flux Experiment!
The effect has been really positive in terms of up-regulating my metabolism, mood, cravings, training, energy, sleep - taking a cyclical and strategic approach that works with the metabolism and it's dynamic nature has really worked for me. It's a bit of a mental adjustment, to be eating a good 1000 calories more, and still be seeing improved body composition!