RISING FROM THE ASHES: REBUILDING HEALTH, WELLNESS AND FITNESS AFTER BEING ILL OR OVERWEIGHT

risingfromtheashes

WHERE THE HEALING BEGAN

There was a time in my life, not long ago, when I thought I was dying. I was 38 years old, and felt like I was 68. My body hurt, I was grossly overweight, I was sick in my gut every single day, and my energy was a finite and shallow pool to draw from. I had resigned myself to the fact that, like my mother, I was going to die young.

I told myself it was genetics. I told myself I was dealt the short stick in life. I was sad, angry or depressed every day. I was praying for mercy and an easier life, every single day. I was always one big event away from yelling at my kids, getting angry at God, or shutting down entirely. The idea of getting healthy, losing weight or exercising were so unattainable in my mind that I just gave up. Skinny bodies, healthy bodies, endless energy and adventure were for other people.

Then one day I saw an ad for a book called Thyroid Healing by Anthony Williams. It was a fluke on my Facebook timeline. I’d never heard of him or his books before. The comments as I scrolled down were almost unbelievable. “This guy saved my life!” or “This book is a miracle!”

I’m a skeptic by nature, but had dealt with hypothyroidism for over 15 years and was desperate for any kind of finger hold on my health. So I went to Amazon and looked up the book. There were over 5000 reviews and over 4.5 stars. I started to read what people were saying, and started to get excited. There was an overwhelming “This works!” from people who’d read the book. That day I bought his book, and I bought a thyroid support supplement.

That day changed the rest of my life. I’m not exaggerating. I started my journey by following his dietary suggestions for his thyroid rehab program. I started taking the thyroid supplement pill. Within a week I went from feeling 68 years old to feeling 19 again. It was revelatory.

From there, feeling a wellspring of energy in me that I hadn’t felt in decades, I started to move my body, grow stronger, and push the needle on what I believed my body and my mind could do. I started learning about yoga, mindfulness meditations, and fitness. I took a course on well-being from Yale. I took courses and read books on personal development. I tried different workout programs, and challenges. I started this Vital Living site. I was rising from the ashes of my old life, and expanding and blooming in ways that I never predicted. It’s a journey I don’t plan on ever ending, and that thought brings me joy. My life is full of vitality now.

In his book, Anthony Williams asks when the last time I had felt vitality in my life was. As I read it, his question brought me to tears. Vitality! Energy, playfulness and exploration, joyful emotions, curiosity and fun! All of those things had been missing for so long from my life. For decades I told myself that vitality and wellness were for other people. Better people than me. I didn’t deserve them, or I’d have them. Right? Did I dare hope to have them again?

Hell yes! Not only did I dare, but I succeeded! The feeling I have inside when I think about my life now is endless potential, excitement and play. I’m not unusual. I’m nobody special. I have found a path back to health and wellness that works, and I want to share it with others.

I wouldn’t be so bold as to write an article like this, if I hadn’t seen first-hand that healing, recovery and thriving after being overweight and ill is possible. Am I at my goal weight? Nope, not even close. Do I feel defeated by that fact? Of course not! The journey to being ill and overweight took decades. I’ll be working on being healthy for the rest of my life, and instead of that feeling insurmountable now it feels rewarding and loving instead.

What I am is committed to my health, my fitness and becoming the best version of myself that is possible for me to be. I’m someone who’s walked that path and seen results and incredible improvement in my overall health. I’m someone who wants to help. I feel like I have the experience and insight to turn around on the path and help lift other people up as well.

You don’t have to be overweight for the rest of your life. You don’t have to resign yourself to feeling ill every day, or accept the fate of an early death. What I’ve learned, and absolutely believe, is that we aren’t fated to be any way other than the one we set for ourselves.

Healing is possible. Healing from illness, and healing from obesity are possible. Healing from obesity? Hear me out, I’m not be mendacious. Fat is something to heal from. Our illnesses from over the years, toxins we’ve drunk, eaten or inhaled, and the waste from our bodies that our livers and lymphatic system are unable to purge are stored in our fat cells. Stored fat cells create stress hormones in our body. Being overweight is like walking around with a library of our lives woes and ills strapped to our thighs.

Nobody deserves to live like that. Yes being overweight is easier in the short-term than exercising and eating healthy. But by accepting that life of mediocrity, discomfort and bad health – the short term is all you’ve got. Heal from your fat, release it. Cleanse your body, mind, and soul from your past and grow forward.

I UNDERSTAND YOU

When you’re ill or overweight you start this process at a deficit. You have no energy. You have no motivation. You don’t feel good. You barely have energy enough to do your basic day-to-day stuff. You’re one big event away from a total breakdown. You’re begging God and the universe for mercy and an easy go of things.

All of the memes and motivational videos about just getting out there and doing it don’t apply to you. If you could have, you already would have. Right?

I know you. I see you. I’ve been you. And I’ve risen out of the ashes. I will show you how.

We’ll take this process slowly. But slow is still growth. Even moving slowly, you will still heal.

The decision to get healthy when you’ve been ill or overweight can be overwhelming. It’s akin to somebody standing you at the foot of Mount Everest and telling you salvation is at the top. Somewhere around the hundredth step up the mountainside you’re just going to sit down and settle for mediocrity again. Or pray for absolution to come and save you right where you are.

The good news is that good health isn’t a mountain away. It’s your next forkful away. You don’t have to get to it with any great speed, and even the slow road is going to make your body, your heart, and your mind feel years younger and full of vitality again.

You’ll be able to look and feel as good as anyone you see around you. You just have to change some things to get there first. Namely the food you eat (not less, just better), your mindset and how you see yourself in the world, how much you can learn to love yourself, and how much you move your body.

Vitality. Remember that thing? It may have been a very long time since you’ve felt it. Vitality is that surge of energy from deep in your belly begging you to, “Bring it on!” It’s waking up with a smile on your face because whatever the day brings you’re in control. Vitality is having a wellspring of YOU so deep and so wide inside that life takes on a different perspective. Colors are more vibrant, smiles are easier to come by and everything has tipped upside down. You’re no longer at the bottom of the mountain longing for the peak. You’re at the peak and surveying the horizon for more.

Don’t feel deterred by the distance between where you are now in your journey to good health, and where you want to be. All of your dreams for yourself are possible. And you’re worth every second of the work it will take to get you there.

Why should only other people get to find happiness? Those people you see on the screen, the Beautiful People that we envy and so many of us emulate aren’t more worthy than the rest of us. They aren’t owed some karmic debt that makes all of their dreams come true. They’re exactly like you and I.

You’re not worth any less than any other human being on this planet. It’s your right to want to feel good inside of your body. It’s your right to have a body that feels good, fits into nice clothes, allows you to go where you want and when you want without embarrassment, pain or suffering. It’s your right to dream big, work for your dreams, and get the chance to live them. That’s not some TV fantasy, that’s real life.

If, like me, you’ve grown tired of settling for just ‘meh,’ and you’re ready to bloom into a life of your making, with you at the helm, into the next grandest, most beautiful vision of yourself, then keep reading.

I can’t just hand you good health on a golden platter. What I can do is give you a road map, guidance, and some positive thinking to help you get started.

YOU DESERVE THE BEST LIFE YOU CAN ENVISION FOR YOURSELF

 “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% what you make of it.”

 Take ownership of your body, your health and your life. Fight for it! There’s never going to be a “good time” to start getting healthy. If you think you’re too busy now, and think you’ll start this journey in 6 months instead, you’re underestimating how busy you’re going to be in six months.

Most importantly, make this journey about you. Sure your spouse, family, and friends will be elated to have a smaller, happier version of you who’s capable of doing a lot more fun and exciting things. But depending on their good opinions and attention for your own feeling of success is just setting yourself up for defeat. That’s you looking back outside of yourself for affirmations, love and kindness. If you can’t foster a sense of excitement about improving your health, inside of yourself, you will never succeed. Be excited about taking control of your life back! Get excited about finally being able to feel ease inside of your body again. This journey is about you, for you, and by you. Don’t even talk about your goals with anyone, just show them your success. Do this for YOU. Your success story is YOURS, not anyone else’s. Take before pictures. Promise yourself that a day will come when you can take after pictures!

You have to change your mindset during this journey. You need to change your mindset into believing that you deserve for all of your dreams to come true. You’re doing this because you ARE worth everything you could hope for yourself and MORE. You’re doing this because even though you may feel okay now, you know the long-term effects of carrying extra weight or not fighting for your health will eventually conquer you. You’re doing this because you want to live a LONG and HAPPY life filled with vibrancy and excitement. You want it NOW. You deserve it, and are sick of waiting for it to fall in your lap (because it never will).

The reality is, that like everything worth having in this life, your goals will take work. If being healthy, feeling comfortable in your body, and having excess, unfettered energy is good enough for others, why not for you? You deserve, and CAN HAVE the same. If you’re willing to put in the time and commitment.

Don’t get to the end of your life full of regret because you never tried. The worst thing that can happen by trying to better your health, in any way, is that you get healthier and feel better for your effort. Eating well, sleeping enough, being kind to yourself, and exercising even a little cannot fail to improve your health. It’s the ultimate lottery. There’s no way to lose!

I know you can do this. It doesn’t take much to make a positive change in your health. But good health does not come free. The price for good health is all of your excuses. We’re experts at making excuses for not doing the things we don’t feel like doing. Healthy people do the work, even and especially when they don’t feel like it. The good news? There WILL come a day when it stops feeling like work, and living a healthy vital life starts to feel like PLAY.

WHERE DO WE START?

Initially I intended for this article to be all-inclusive. I wanted to touch on everything I’ve learned and have it all in one place for you. Once I got to page twenty and was still typing, I realized that I was going to have to split this up into a series instead. I’ve divided what I’ve learned into four parts. I’ll post them sequentially a few days apart. I hope you find them as helpful to you as they have been to me. The series will look as follows:

SERIES TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. NUTRITION AND HEALTHY EATING
  3. MENTAL MODALITIES AND MINDSET
  4. FITNESS

We’re going to ease into this process. I know first-hand that when you’re ill and/or overweight that baby steps is the best way to start. That’s okay. The change will come whether you rush into it, or baby step your way. Baby steps can have a profound and positive effect on your life.

LET’S GET STARTED – SLOW AND GENTLE

I’m not going to ask you to walk out your front door and run a 5k. I’m not going to suggest you go and buy a gym membership. I’m not even going to ask you start lifting weights. What I am going to ask you to do as we start this journey together is to look in the mirror and say to your reflection, “Hi Friend.”

It’s easy to be kind to other people. When was the last time you were kind to yourself? When was the last time you looked deep inside of yourself and liked what you saw?

Peel back the layers. I’m not talking about the person who eats too much, or who struggles with pain every day. I’m not talking about all of the cruel names you’ve called yourself along the way that have lined the inside of your heart. Peel all of that back, and see deep inside of yourself. The real you, the whole you, the scarred, scared, and hiding you.

We tend to wither away deep inside of ourselves behind layers and layers of walls we’ve built to keep the world away from the true us. We do it when we’re not feeling loved, safe, or nourished. I’m not talking about food nourished, I’m talking about soul nourished. Thoughts like, “You are perfect, just as you are.” or “You have every single thing you need inside of you to heal, right now.” or “The world needs exactly you, because you’re a miracle and pinnacle of creation. Just as you are.”

The world can be a cruel place if you’re looking outside of yourself into the world for affirmations, for value, or for love. The truth is that everybody is running a rat race of their own making, and don’t really think twice about anyone else. It’s not their job. They have their own mountains to climb.

The work of feeling affirmed, valued, and loved is for you and you alone to provide yourself. So peel back the layers and see yourself, the real you. Ask yourself, at your deepest level, if you can be free from suffering. Can you be as happy and healthy as it is possible for you to be? Can you have ease of being? Are you worthy of any and every effort, to lead your best life? Let the answers you hear guide the conversation you need to have inside to begin healing.

This isn’t just a journey on how to work out and where. If you’ve been ill or overweight for a long time, then the truth is that your mountain to climb looks different from everyone else’s. There’s as much going on inside of your heart and mind that needs to be shown kindness and love as there is in your body.

So, as we begin on this gentle compassionate journey together, commit to yourself that you’re going to be kind to yourself. If you make one change today, let it be compassion for yourself. Silence that inner bully. Feel proud of how far you’ve come. After all, you’ve gotten this far in life having dealt with all of the blows you’ve been given and you’re still ready to bloom.

This journey is as much about changing how we view ourselves, and our worth, as it is about learning how to treat our bodies with kindness and integrity.

In fact, the first thing I’m going to recommend to you is that you take this entire process slowly and gently. We’re making a huge shift in who are you, by choosing to be a better healing version of you. Can you feel it, are you excited? I hope so. Commit now to yourself that today is the perfect time, and you’re ready. The truth is that the only time you’re guaranteed is this moment right now. So seize it. We’re doing this!

Whether you’ve been ill or overweight, your body has been through a huge trauma. Our focus will be on healing ourselves, and getting our bodies back the foundation of strength they’ll need to carry you forward on your own health journey. But to start, just be gentle with yourself.

The first step on this journey is one you’ll take inward. Quit beating yourself up. Quit blaming your body. Quit wishing for anything other than who you are, where you are, right now. Cut yourself some slack, you did the best you could with what you knew. You’ve committed to healing, and that means you’ve committed to befriending yourself. You’re going to be gentle with not just your body from now on, you’re going to be gentle with your whole self.

Say goodbye to your inner bully whose caustic tongue drives you nuts. When we were young this inner bully pushed us to get through that early life and launched into adulthood. But now that we’re here, that nasty tongue just keeps us small, doubting ourselves, and locked in the boxes we’ve built around ourselves.

Be gentle with yourself. When you think you can’t do something or you’re too fat or sick to succeed, just smile to yourself and say, “Not anymore.” The truth is that our brains are there to protect us and help us survive. They don’t like change, risk or bold actions. Unfortunately that causes so many of us to get stuck, stagnant and resigned to our lives. So gently smile at that old version of yourself and say, “Not anymore.”

“It is not death that a man should fear,
but he should fear never beginning to live.”
Marcus Aurelius

Step one is to change your inner tone to a more gentle, self-loving one. That baby step will start you healing, from the inside out. Healing is generational. Do this for you, but understand you’re not the only one who will grow better for it. Your kids are watching you, always. They’re watching while you’re eating, while you’re feeling ill, and they’ll be watching while you’re eating well and exercising as well. I want you to start this journey for you, but remember they’ll be learning the lessons you’re living as well. So be gentle, and say kind things to yourself. The first time you hear your child say to themselves, “I’m doing pretty good at this!” will grow your heart three sizes.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Even before we talk about exercise, motivation, or mindset we need to get your body back to healing itself. We’ll learn how food is medicine and how to restore your valuable energy stores in the next part of the series called, “NUTRITION AND HEALTHY EATING.”

We’ll start the process of getting your body back to just a basic level of physical ability so that the thought of exercise and change is a positive challenge and not so overwhelming you just want to take a nap instead.

We’ll talk about how to get motivated to change, and how to form habits to keep you there even when your motivation falters. Because it always does. Motivation is meant to get us started, habits are meant to carry us forward.

Lastly we’ll talk about some of the tricks your mind will employ to derail your journey along the way, to keep you “safe” being your old sick, overweight self. Your mind means well, truly. It just gets things backwards sometimes. We’ll learn ways to work around this. There are ways you can harness the power of your mind to keep you winning. There’s no limit to what your body is capable of, the only limits are in your mind. So we’ll work together to broaden your mind and look more closely at how to develop a winning mindset.

We’ll set you on a path forward to forging your own health and fitness adventures ahead. We’ll look into workout apps, guidelines and protocols, how to keep your workouts variable and fun, and more.

We’re on this journey together. I’ll share what I know and what I’ve learned. And we’ll heal as we go. Together. For the first time in my life I’m in control of my body, of my weight, of my illness. My prayers have shifted from, “Please make my life easier.” to “Please give me the strength and chance to see it all!” If I can do this, so can you. I’ll show you how.

Now that you’re already a new better and healthier version of you, remember to celebrate every success, especially the small ones! You’ll quickly realize that the journey IS the destination. There is no destination, because we’re not going to stop being healthy someday. This journey is a long-term prospect. So when you notice yourself being kind to yourself, or compassionate about your weight or illness, or encouraging about the new direction you’re taking your life – pat yourself on the back and smile. You’ve earned it!

This process is a marathon, not a sprint. One bad choice or disparaging thought isn’t the end of the world. This is about balance, and moderation. Even the cookie monster says, “Cookies are a sometimes food.” Notice that he didn’t say a “never” food. If you have a day where you’re feeling down, chalk it up as a day of rest and not a day of quitting. Tomorrow, just start again.

Ultimately you want to average out on the healthy and kind side, day after day. Making good choices does get easier as you build healthy habits to drive you forward. But not every meal, or every choice is going to be a win for you. At the end of the day you want your tally of the choices that you made to be heavier on the side of healthy choices. That’s how you navigate your way back to good health. That’s how you’ll baby step your way back to your younger healthier self. That’s how you’ll rebuild the foundation of who you’re becoming.

Here’s some hard news for you. Most people, when making transformative changes in their lives, quit after five days. FIVE days. Consider that a challenge to yourself. It takes twenty-one days to make a new behavior into a habit. It takes sixty-six days to make a new behavior into a lifestyle. Don’t give up on yourself.

SOME ACTION POINTS TO PUT INTO PLACE TODAY:

  • Write one solid encouraging loving reason why you want to be healthy again. See it in your mind, picture you living in that healthy body. Why is it worth it? Find one solid answer, write it down on a piece of paper and stick it to your refrigerator so that you see it EVERY DAY.
  • Every morning when you wake up, the first thing I want you to do is say “Hi friend.” to yourself in the bathroom mirror. Even if you’re not feeling overly loving, say it anyway. Fake it until you make it. Start your day with the intention inside to show gentle kindness to yourself and who you are in this moment.

A flower won’t grow in sand, but add a little nutrients, water it daily and watch it bloom!

That’s it for today. As always I thank you for your time. I know that time is the most valuable thing in the universe, and I’m grateful that you chose to spend some of yours with me. I hope you can feel the healing energy pulsing through you already. I hope you’re ready for this journey to change your life for the better in huge ways.

Look for “Nutrition and Healthy Eating” in the near future.

xo Becky xo

Phoenix

3 thoughts on “RISING FROM THE ASHES: REBUILDING HEALTH, WELLNESS AND FITNESS AFTER BEING ILL OR OVERWEIGHT

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