Days 18-30 of 31: Body Love Yoga Challenge {Failure + Body Positive}

Yup.  Twelve whole days has passed since my last post.  From all accounts it would appear as though I 'failed'.  I had, afterall, promised to blog daily throughout my 31 day yoga challenge.  I said I would do something and...I didn't do it. Yet, this Body Love Yoga Challenge had other plans for me and the truth is, by Day 18, I was spent.   My mind and body were completely exhausted.  Not so much from the physical yoga, but from the mental and emotional walls my yoga practice was apparently bull-dozing around me.

When I embarked on the Challenge I seriously had no idea what was in store. If I had, I might not have signed on, but oh how grateful I am that I did. The past 30 days have taught me not only to let go, but also how much I need to repair the messy relationship I've had with my body the past 15+ years.

See I thought I was the perfect picture of health---------

Vegan, only consuming organic foods, never allowing processed food to cross my lips.

Any dessert had to be made of the highest quality ingredients.

Daily workouts.

Setting rules {no animal products, no gluten, no sugar, then no grains, ok maybe some animal protein is ok, wait no animal! -the list went on} and abiding by those rules.

And then something happened.  My body turned against me.  My precious, one-and-only body decided to stop working.  Two years ago on January 6, 2012 I got my last period.  For a year I waited, unwilling or totally unaware of the responsibility I had over this.  In January 2013 I was given the 'diagnosis' of early menopause {just shy of my 30th birthday I need to note}.  After a second Doctor’s opinion I gladly accepted her diagnosis of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and tried to shrug off the early menopause thing.

I hate diagnosis.

I hate labels.

And yet isn’t that how we so often find the ability to identify ourselves?  I am this. I am that.  I am vegan.  I am blonde. I have Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.  Well darnit {I had typed a not-so elementary word and then my conscious got the best of me so darnit it is} I am so stinking sick and tired of pulling on another mask to try and define me.

I am not any of this.

I am simply me.  A girl turned woman who happens to have dimples and a smile from ear to ear when she doesn’t allow her worries and mind to get the best of her.  A spirit that is reminiscent of a curious cat – an intriguing interrogator that absolutely loves to ask a million question and know exactly why it is you do what you do, a soul that still loves to spend hours working on {and finishing puzzles}, who loves to meet new people, visit new places and try incredible love-infused high-vibrational delciously-tasty foods.

Ahhhhh yes that is me.

I am not the labels or the boxes I have made for myself to shrink to fit into.

And yet I am also a woman who is desperately trying to find who she really is.  A woman who so fiercely wants to love herself and feel peace in her body and a woman who desires, with every core of her being, the gift of her period again and the incredible blessing of a child – oh how I want to be a momma!  And oh what a struggle this is for me right now.  As I type this I have five dear friends on the brink of motherhood and yet I struggle with knowing whether I’ll ever be able to share in that experience.  The thought breaks my heart and moves me to tears.  I am not married and no, am not trying for a little babycakes right now and so, in some way, I believe these feelings are not validated.

Yet I know they are.

I'd love to talk more about this, but the truth is I'm still discovering it myself.  What I do know is: I am finally willing to accept the power my food and body obsessions have had over me and my life.  And, more importantly, I am ready and wanting to let go of the control this has held over my body and of the incessant negative self-talk.

When I first heard the words Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and its relationship with eating disorders; I thought - me? Nope.  Definitely not me.  I'm not too skinny.  I don't starve myself or make myself throw up.  In fact I love food too much.  But the reality is food has consumed me – not just physically but mentally and emotionally too.  I am currently reading Intuitive Eating and found this paragraph to sum up my relationship with food perfectly:

“The Careful Eater can spend most of her waking hours planning out the next meal or snack, often worrying about what to eat {insert in when to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat etc etc}.  While the Careful Eater is not officially on a diet, her mind is chastising every ‘unhealthy’ fatty or sugary food eaten {heck grains, almonds, cauliflower, sesame and beets aren’t even allowed in my book!}.  The Careful Eater can run the fine line between being genuinely interested in health, and eating carefully for the sake of body image.”

That last part  -for the sake of body image – really stung.  That is the ONLY reason why I’ve been eating the way I have.

My dear friend Lily, who has helped me tremendously over the last year to navigate my relationship with food + body, is hosting a Body Positive workshop in May that will focus on body image, food, exercise, and self-love.  It is going to be held on May 3rd and is being hosted by the non-profit, The Body Positive.  Originally started as an eating disorder support group, The Body Positive has now evolved into working with people that have varying relationships with food and their bodies.   According to Lily, "Even if you have a beautiful relationship with food and your body, this will still be beneficial to learn techniques in how to help others create a more positive way to love their body and how to nourish it more intuitively. At the workshop we will start with an introspective approach and explore our own body relationships and then move into techniques around intuitive eating and reframing what a healthy relationship with food and our weight can look like."

I already purchased my seat for the workshop and have attached a flyer with more information.  Feel free to email Lily with questions at lily.stokely@bastyr.edu. Also feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who may be interested. Space is limited to only 25 people so be sure to sign up quickly if you wish to attend. http://thebodypositive.org/tbp/workshops-and-groups/

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