I found myself going through some old photos the other day. I was going back to look at the dessert recipes I had saved a few years back for Easter to get reinspired. Needless to say, but there are a lot of recipes I can’t wait to get cracking on in the coming weeks. What saddened me when I looked at the recipes, however, was how few I actually made.
When I was unwell I loved making desserts. I didn’t really get into savoury cooking until much later. I would make cakes, cookies and brownies for others to enjoy but never for me. As a nanny, I loved baking with the kids. We made a new dessert every week. I wouldn’t dare lick the chocolate off my fingers or taste one of them because I didn’t think I was worthy of enjoying that. I knew that if I did enjoy a piece of cake it would mean there would be a tortuous gym session the following day.
Upon reflection I know that I was not “healthy” at all. I was physically and emotionally starved. I may have appeared “healthy” because I was thin, but I was severely undernourished.
Over the past two months I have watched and felt my body struggling at times. It reminded me of how I felt three years ago at the peak of my weakness. I have felt exhausted (even after a good night’s sleep), more down than usual, my hair has been coming out in huge chunks and I randomly been waking up with red spots under my eyes.
I am someone that finds great joy in embracing an active and balanced lifestyle and could not understand where I had been going so wrong. My naturopath referred me to the doctor to get some iron studies done. Upon receiving my results on Friday, all those strange seemingly unrelated symptoms make sense. I am extremely iron deficient – anaemic. I presented the results to my naturopath on Tuesday and she said, “well it is no wonder you’re tired, you are functioning at a quarter of your capability.”
This was actually really disheartening to hear but has given me a lot of excitement for what I will be capable of when I get my iron levels under control again. I have been sharing a lot more personal information on my blog and Instagram and have been receiving the most helpful and kind messages. One of my cousins actually sent me a message to tell me that she went through the same thing at my age and that her allergies would randomly appear on her face as well due to iron deficiency.
The point of saying all of this is to show that being “skinny” or “active” or “fit” doesn’t mean that you are healthy.
I learnt a very important concept at uni last week – “vitality.” If a person has vitality they are strong, active and fully of energy. They also have the ability to be resilient in the face of change. Therein lies my goal. To get back my vitality.
On the outside it may appear that a person is “doing all the right things” but our bodies are far more intelligent than that. In fact, learning more about the body in my studies this semester has given me a new found appreciation for my body and what it does every day just to keep me alive. To think that there are little B cells, T cells, gut microbes, bones and organs that have my health as their top priority is pretty astonishing.
Our bodies are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. This is why when it is sending us clear signs to slow down and really focus on our health it is important that we do. It is also important to remember to take care of our emotional health. Definitely something that I have significantly improved upon in the past year. I am finally beginning to see just how beneficial it is to open up to others and to be really honest about the way I feel. It has strengthened my mind, my relationships and the way I approach life in general. I love that eating dessert no longer brings stress. I love that I can eat the things I make without guilt. I love that I can share food with the people I love and feel joyful alongside them.
There is so much more to be said on this topic but the bottom line is this. Our overall health and vitality is important. It needs to be constantly nourished. It needs to be a priority. Our body can put up with a lot before it decides that enough is enough and by then a lot of damage may have already been done. It is time that the health and fitness industry start to look beyond the importance of “being skinny to be healthy” and shift their attention to what is going on inside the person both physically and emotionally.