Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Reflections: Thyroid woes, staying true, and being a chickenshit.

2012 Reflections: Thyroid woes, staying true, and being a chickenshit. 



Yep, I’m doing it. The sometimes cheesy and always predictable year-in-review blog post. As each year passes, I think that the lessons I learned and the experiences I had will remain unparalleled, however the next year never fails to trump the previous. 
2012 has, once again, been chock full of new experiences and I've learned so many precious lessons that I can't wait to share with you! So get comfy and settle in my friends. Lets talk 2012. 

Listen to Your Gut

After insisting that numerous clients of mine get hormone panels ran and extensive thyroid testing done (and I ain’t just talkin’ the standard TSH and T4 test, which tells us next to nothing), I finally - after months and months of knowing something was wrong with me - chose to heed my own advice and got the tests ran myself. 

What turned up were problems I suspected deep down in my gut: a slew of hormonal imbalances and very serious thyroid problems. 
I ignored all of the warning signs and kept attempting to rationalize my symptoms and cover them up with more diet and exercise which only made a bad situation worse. That little voice that whispers into our ear knows what’s up every. single. damn. time. 

Turn off the computer, tv, and cell phone and turn inwards. Ask yourself how you're feeling - how you're really feeling - and ask it frequently. Pay attention. You know you.  If something feels off, investigate immediately and don't take "no" for an answer. (I camped out in a doctor's office until they agreed to run the tests that I requested.) 

More on all of this in a future post, but suffice it to say that we should always pay attention to the little warning signs.

Health > Aesthetics


Over the summer, I was forced by my doctors to dial my training way back; so far back that I may or may not have shed a few tears about it.  
You see, I have exercised like a maniac in some fashion or another since I was 16 years old. Working out at least 4-5 days a week is just what I do; it’s always been a non-negotiable. 

In light of the aforementioned health woes, I have had to put all physique goals on the back burner and focus my attention on fixing my thyroid and hormone issues. Diet and high intensity training is not what my body needs to heal - as a matter of fact, it will only exacerbate my problems. 
The prospect of a hot bod has always been a huge driver for me, so training without any strength or physique goals was really tough for me at first. It took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that a lean body doesn't always mean a healthy body, and unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way.

To help me focus on other things besides aesthetics, I have dove headfirst back into my yoga practice, which I pushed aside for awhile to focus on slingin' iron. I have also hired a trainer to learn the Olympic lifts, which I'm absolutely loving and it's kept my gym time fun and fresh. The best news is that I'm feeling better and things are looking up.

Exercise is pertinent in the equation for health, but if you have to take a bit of time off or dial things back a bit, the world will not actually come to an end. Who knew? 


Don't Compromise Your Truth

I co-founded an extremely popular business in late 2011, and then gracefully relinquished my role at the end of 2012 when the business model evolved into something that was no longer the right fit for myself and my vision. Many people were surprised and a lot of people didn’t understand, and that is okay. 
It’s easy to go with the status quo just because we think we are supposed to, even when it’s the wrong thing for us. It takes a helluva lot more courage to put your foot down and go after what you really want and deserve. 


Being popular is fun, however being true to yourself and your dreams are what will bring real happiness. Don't compromise yourself or your truth just to make other people happy. Going with the flow is easy, but building the empire of your wildest dreams is where the magic happens. 

One of my favorite books, “The Firestarter Sessions” is about this very topic and I can’t recommend it enough. 

Being Super Busy is Counterproductive. 

Earlier this year, I got stuck in the trap thinking that if I was always super busy then I would inevitably be ultra-productive which, in turn, would make me super successful. WRONG. Oh, so wrong. 
Being crazy busy and committing myself to a billion (give or take) writing assignments, nutrition clients, and personal tasks made me a miserable crazy person. I had a never ending To Do List and when I woke up in the middle of the night my brain was like a tornado, whirling with thoughts of things I had to do, wanted to do, and needed to do. 
In short, my new “productive and successful” lifestyle was stressing me the eff out. It was taking a toll on my sleep schedule, my appetite, and my happiness. 

I started to make a concerted effort to do less. (As a matter of fact, doing even less is one of my goals for 2013.) Some people will scoff at that statement but I’ve learned the hard way that it is absolutely crucial to my happiness and wellbeing to have chill time. Some people enjoy running around like a chicken with their head chopped off. I don't. It's not good for me. 

Now I unapologetically schedule time to lay on the couch, watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns, and snuggle my pug. I won’t check emails on Saturdays.  I read fiction, and a lot of it. ::gasp:: Sometimes I walk on the treadmill just so I can zone out, listen to awesome music, and not worry about dodging cars. I'm not afraid to say, "No, thanks, I can't attend. I need to relax." 

The best part? Incredible opportunities are still rolling in. I maintain a killer roster of nutrition clients that are all kicking serious ass. Our business has never been better. All of that with more time to recharge, refuel, feel incredible and stay sane? Hell yes! 

There are no bonus points awarded for running ourselves ragged. In fact, it’s completely counterproductive. An excellent book about this that I absolutely loved is The Power of Engagement. 

Don't Be a Chickenshit.

I had the incredible honor of being invited by Train Strength Barbell in Salt Lake City to give my very first solo seminar this year. I jumped at the chance and immediately accepted... and then totally freaked out. 

I was scared that they’d hate me and I wouldn’t be able to offer them any valuable information. I ran through every horrible scenario in my head ranging from people not showing up to people walking out. I tortured myself! 

When the day came, I pulled it together, did my best, and low and behold - it was awesome! Even though it was on the day of the first big snowstorm of the season, we still had a great turn out and everybody was so nice! The discussion flowed nonstop and everybody said that they loved it. What an experience! 
When I left, I was walking on sunshine. This was a huge opportunity for me, I learned a lot and now I can’t wait to do my next one! I wasted countless days worrying myself silly and completely undervaluing myself, and for what? Sheesh! 

An amazing woman named Amanda attended my seminar and did a write-up on it here

Dream Big.

During the winter of 2011, Michael and I were driving home from a road trip one evening, chatting.  Within 15 minutes, we had made up our minds that in 2012 we were going to spend six months in Kentucky (where our business & Michael’s family is) and six months in Salt Lake City where my family and my original home is. 

At first, the goal sounded a bit lofty. Travel back and forth across the country and live in two places? Is that really possible? It meant a lot of work - finding and renting a fully furnished place in Salt Lake and packing up our two doggies to embark on an 1800 mile drive. 

We mapped out our vision and set our plan into motion. Sure enough, in 2012 we spent spring in KY, summer in SLC, fall in KY, and are currently spending the winter & holidays in SLC. We had the generous blessing of our family that helped make our travel possible, and now I’m already dreaming about how (and where) to divide up 2013! 

Dream big, set a plan and just do it. After all, why not? 


I refuse to wish time away, so I plan to enjoy every last juicy drop of 2012. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see what 2013 has in store. 

What did 2012 teach you? 
I'd love to hear your lessons or stories! Drop me a line below! 

19 comments:

  1. Jen,
    I am so, so glad that you listened to your body and got the tests done. And, I'm even happier to hear that you are making the necessary changes to support your mind and body in the healing process. I wish you health and happiness as you follow your dreams into 2013!
    Ann

    ReplyDelete
  2. 2012 taught me to set realistic goals. Yes, you can dream big, but there is such a thing as dreaming too big.
    At least now I know my limits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good way to look at things, however I am admittedly open to far-fetched possibilities ;)

      Delete
  3. More than one section of this post tugged at my heartstrings, mama-thank you for expressing yourself! I LOVE FSS and have been "working" on doing less for 2 years now...it keeps getting easier, whoo hoo! Please add "meet Liz DiAlto in real life" on your list for 2013, thanks! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Liz! Coming from somebody that I admire and look up to in the industry, I'm honored!

      Funny how we have to work so diligently on doing less! I think efficiency plays a huge part in this, and that is one thing I can improve upon.

      I would LOVE to meet up! Let me know which health/fitness events you are attending. I love to travel so I'll get to one of them!
      xoxo

      Delete
  4. Great post! It has made me think again about how I'm treating myself.... Thanks for sharing! It's so easy to get caught up in the more/harder/ faster/leaner mindset. The body and mind can only take so much, no matter how much we (I) try to deny it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Grainne! That is exactly what I was hoping for - to encourage people to dig down deep and reflect on what they are doing and how they are feeling.

      I am totally guilty of putting my body (and mind) through the wringer. The busier I am, the less time I have to tune in and notice WHOA - I don't feel right. oops!

      Delete
  5. Thank you so much for writing this! It turns out we've discovered some of the same things this past year.

    I too noticed little warning signs about my health, and I too rationalized, ignored and exercised through them. When getting bloodwork done to check on a separate on-going pain issue, my TSH came back elevated and suddenly it all clicked. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease in November. This year I've realized how important it is to listen to my body and what it's telling me - if there's pain, I need to address it; if my body is tired, I need to rest instead of pushing through the exhaustion. I plan to practice listening to my body more in 2013.

    I too have learned that being "busy" all the time doesn't make me a better person. It makes me tired, cranky, and stressed. And it turns out most of the things I'm "busy" with are self-inflicted - things I feel like I need or want to do that aren't necessarily HAVE to dos. So in 2013 I'm practicing planned relaxation, learning the difference between HAVE to do and want to do, and giving myself permission to not always be "busy".

    Thanks again for writing this Jen. You're a huge inspiration to me :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Theresa!

      I'm so glad to hear that you got to the bottom of your thyroid issues. While the Hashimotos is obviously not fun, at least you know what you are dealing with and have an action plan in place for treatment.

      Listening to our body doesn't come naturally for me. I've been of the silly mindset for years that one can always "push through the pain". Now I'm working hard to reverse that thinking and treat pain (or fatigue, foggy thinking, etc) as huge warning signs.

      Yes! I am a self-inflicted busy person, too! To be honest, I think most people are. There is a line in The Power of Engagement that I think you'll love:

      "We live in a world that celebrates work and activity, and ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance. Sadly, the need for recovery is often viewed as evidence of weakness rather than as an integral aspect of sustained performance."

      How spot on is that?! :)

      Delete
    2. You're right - having an answer and a clear plan of action has been a huge relief. If only the answers for my on-going pain issues were so clear, but one step at a time, right?

      Listening to my body doesn't come naturally to me either. I've always been one of those people who refuses to rest when I'm sick or hurt. We tell ourselves pushing through is the admirable and strong thing, right? It's still a struggle for me, but I'm working on it. :)

      I love that quote! Can't believe it's taken me over 30 years to realize that rest and recovery is NOT a weakness, but essential to growth. I'm going to save that quote and re-read it next time I find myself "pushing through" something I probably shouldn't be!

      Delete
  6. Hey Jen, I met you at your SLC presentation, which by the way I agree turned out awesome! No reason to fear public speaking b/c you killed it! Your summary reminded me of how far I've come in the past couple of years, so thanks for the inspiration to look at my own accomplishments. I applaud all of your learning points and the courage it takes to employ them. Thanks for the book recs as well!! - Dawn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dawn!
      It's so nice to hear from you, and I just bookmarked your site. I can't wait to take a peek at it!

      Thank you for the kind words. You all were so wonderful at the seminar.

      Hope you have a wonderful New Years and a killer 2013! Please stay in touch - we still need to do coffee next time I'm back in SLC!

      Delete
  7. You know I can relate to this post!! When you spend your whole life trying to be healthy and fit, it can come as a massive shock to know that part of you is not healthy. What's even worse is knowing that you have to actually cut back on exercise to get better. I've been making yoga and stretching the main focus of my workout. It's amazing how stressed I feel if I skip a yoga session. Thankfully my PCOS diagnosis came at a time when I felt much more comfortable with my exercise regime. Even a year ago, the prospect of lifting only three times a week would have filled me with dread!

    My only goal for the new year is also doing less :) I think when you're in this industry, it's always go-go-go all the time. I have in-person clients, admin work, and then I rush home to work on programs for my online clients and go through emails and blog. It just never stops, even on weekends. I've been thinking of cutting back my blogging slightly, but I will make that decision in the new year after I've taken a little break.

    Merry Christmas and happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely understand what you mean about being in a better place with a more tame training plan. Frankly, my energy tanked so bad over the summer and early fall due to hormone and thyroid problems that I couldn't have trained often or intensely even if I had wanted to. My body was throwing up red flags left and right, but I just kept trying to "push through" like a total idiot.

      Doing less: heck yeah! My goals for 2013 are to do less, but read and write even more. Those things are therapeutic for me. :)

      I'm popping over to your blog to see what you've been up to right now! ;)

      Delete
  8. Jen, I love Love LOVE this review/post! Kudos to you for putting into cyberspace your battles, lessons, encouragement and achievements. I've battled with some similar woes this last year. Here's to hoping for an everchanging positive chapter in 2013!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenn!
      It is a bit scary to put everything out there, but it is my hope that it turn a lightbulb on for other people that are unknowingly suffering from the same or similar things.

      Happy New Year!

      Delete
  9. "It’s easy to go with the status quo just because we think we are supposed to, even when it’s the wrong thing for us. It takes a helluva lot more courage to put your foot down and go after what you really want and deserve. "

    Boy, this hit home for me. However, it had more to do with a relationship that I had to walk away from. I gave him the chance to step up, and he didn't, and hasn't for quite a while. I kicked and screamed the whole way, but I had to do it so that one day, I might be loved as I should be. I'm sure he doesn't see it that way. My gut feels like there is a whole it in...trying to dig in and breathe through it.

    Keep the great posts coming.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jen,

    What an absolutely amazing post! I love all of your insights and lessons learned this past year. I feel into the rut of constantly being busy and taking on clients, articles, and blog posts until I was waking up at 5AM and going to bed at 11PM. Safe to say it sucked. One of my goals in 2012 is to do far less but to focus my efforts on projects that actually make a difference (and get back to reading fiction...any recs?). Again, thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete