My Journey: Listening to my body Pt 1

Over the past two years I have developed a relationship with my body that I never would have thought possible. It began while trying to uncover the reason behind why I was having trouble conceiving a child – more on that here.

First step was a blood test interpreted by professionals that I trusted and respected (my holistic doctor and dietician) which identified a number of deficiencies including iron, zinc, b12, magnesium, vitamin D and cholesterol. Yes I had a cholesterol level that was too low – I didn’t even know that was possible. A few years prior, I’d had a blood test that also reported low cholesterol but was told by a doctor that this was a positive thing!

On top of this it was also found that I had a digestive parasite which was the cause of my abdominal discomfort. I started an intensive digestive cleanse first to eliminate the parasite. This involved taking a range of different high dose anti parasitic herbs and a double dose of probiotics. My diet was pretty good so I didn’t have to make many changes here, just buckle up and get through the next 3 months of taking up to 6 tablets at every meal!

Before too long I began to notice that within an hour taking my iron tablet in the morning that I would have a tummy ache. This observation allowed the doctor to identify that the parasite was feeding on the iron in my diet (causing the unpleasant symptoms and my low iron levels) and we were then able to raise my iron level using other methods. I loved that my observations had led to a big win for my health and I thanked my body for providing such a clear message.

About halfway through the cleanse I started to get an unexplainable intuitive sense that I was taking too much of one particular herb. There was no direct evidence, just a very strong feeling so I reduced my dose and reported what I had done at my next docs appointment. My doctor always encouraged me to trust my body and my instincts. He stated that as the parasite was reducing I could reduce my dose of this herb and ensured me that I had made the right decision. This sort of confirmation allowed me to develop my communication with my body and fully trust the messages I was receiving from within.

The cleanse provided me with a platform upon which to practice and hone my mind-body connection. Numerous times I felt guided to take more or less of certain tablets or to avoid or include particular foods and was always confirmed not only through the observable feedback from my body but also from the professional guidance I received from my doctor and dietician.

I reached a place of confidence, knowing that I can fully trust my body to steer me towards optimum health. I don’t think I would have found this journey so easy if it weren’t for the amazing health professionals I’m connected with.

Once my many deficiencies were corrected and I became pregnant, I lost a tolerance for many foods and had cravings for salty, starchy, fried and crunchy foods… and not much else.

Then I faced a challenge which ultimately confirmed what I already knew but not without completely unsettling me first! I spoke to the naturopath at the health food store about how I was feeling and told her that for the time being I could only tolerate certain foods. She told me that everything I was doing was wrong and that I had to eat XYZ regardless of how I felt in order to support my baby. She went on to tell me that she’s had 3 children and that I needed to change what I’m eating immediately in order to ensure my child was being properly nourished.

Heavy! Especially after my difficult journey leading up to eventually conceiving. I started to doubt myself and feel guilty. For the first time in months I thought “maybe my body is wrong” and “maybe the lack of fresh vegies etc. in my diet is having a negative impact on my baby.” I was in a difficult situation because eating the foods that I “should” have been eating caused me a whole range of unpleasant symptoms.

Nervous and losing faith in myself, I spoke to my doc and dietician who thankfully reassured me that my current eating habits were temporary and that I needed to trust my body without worrying about doing myself or my baby and damage. I actually believe that the worry and the self doubt was more damaging for me than the bland food was!

Before too long, my symptoms improved, my tastes changed and my health improved. This challenge reminded me that I don’t need to get sucked in to the opinions of others and that I have all the inner resources I need regarding my health.

Part two of this post (about pain, exercise and massage) coming soon!

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My Journey: Trying To Conceive

I think that hindsight is one of our greatest gifts. I discovered this on the year long journey I faced trying to conceive a child.

As a healthy woman I had no doubt that I would fall pregnant straight away. I knew my cycles really well and I felt pretty good so I really didn’t consider that there could be any problems. After a few months  however, I began to get frustrated (and impatient) so I made an appointment to see a holistic doctor – the only problem being that he had a 3 month waiting list!

Here was my first challenge: waiting. I can’t stand it. But of course there was no use in fighting things beyond my control so I took some of my own advice and found acceptance. After meeting with the doctor and having some routine blood tests I discovered that I wasn’t as healthy as I first thought I was. I had major deficiencies in iron, vitamin B, magnesium, vitamin D, zinc and had cholesterol levels so LOW that it was effecting my hormones and my body’s ability to produce essential minerals. This was heavy. Then on top of all of this we discovered that I also had a digestive parasite (which was the cause of my low iron).

This was not all bad. It was not a diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness or some sort of hereditary or genetic disorder beyond my control. All of these things could be corrected and repaired. Even though I knew this, my reaction was as if I had received a tragic diagnosis. Here was my next challenge: negative thoughts. I struggled with despair and self-hatred before reaching the point where I felt ready to tackle the issue.

Soon after I was hit hard with my next challenge: money. And not just about actually finding the finances to buy all the supplements/food/products I needed but the underlying issue of not believing that I was worthy of having this money spent on me. This had been a recurring issue of mine and it was finally being presented to me in a way that I could not ignore. So I desperately wanted health (in general but also for the greater purpose of having a child) but I felt constantly guilty about the money I was “wasting” on getting there.

This was a long and painful lesson. Getting rid of the parasite involved a 3 month herbal cleanse that had several unpleasant symptoms. Some days I was in so much pain that I was not able to do anything at all. I started to feel sorry for myself and think that my situation would never improve. I’m sure you can imagine what thinking like this achieved!

When your “in the middle” of a journey or transformation it can be difficult to see end in sight. This is where, in hindsight I can see that it was all worth it and that it didn’t drag on for as long as I thought it did. This is where an outsiders perspective can really help. For me it was my doctor – who also does cranio sacral healing. We worked through my issues around worthlessness and he helped me to face my fears head on. He explained how we need to take a spiritual/emotional approach to physical symptoms in order to heal them fully and prevent their return. I agree with this completely! And I must admit that worthlessness related to spending money on myself had been an ongoing issue for me.

He asked me about the sort of headspace I would like to be in when I have a child and worthlessness did not enter into it – I had to deal with this first! In order to experience the extent of my worthlessness I had to face the reality that I might not be able to conceive a child. I allowed myself to release the associated grief, frustration, self-blame and pain. I retreated while I went on my healing journey. It took me a few weeks but I emerged refreshed and connected with all that gave me meaning and purpose – whether or not my future involved being a mother.

I had found peace which allowed me to transcend the “problem” of not being able to fall pregnant and just enjoy being exactly where I was in that moment. This really took the pressure off! Instead of seeing this as a “problem” I recognised it for the gift that it was.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to discover that I fell pregnant within a month after this!

Moral of the story: We always attract situations that are perfect for us to learn what we need to learn.

Expansion and Self Compassion

Here is an audio file that I’ve created for expansion and self compassion mindfulness practice. Self compassion is useful to integrate acceptance. It reduces the need to seek approval and compassion from others once you learn how to offer it to yourself.

Expansion is a useful tool to manage and accept difficult emotions that seem automatic or appear to have control over your behaviour. When you find yourself struggling with unhelpful emotions, give this exercise a go.

Please subscribe to the New Heights Wellbeing you tube channel to receive updates about new mindfulness exercises as I create them.

Raw Chocolate Buckwheat Slice

You will need: food processor, cake tin or baking dish.

 Ingredients:

2 cups soaked nuts of your choice. I used a mix of cashews, almonds and pecans

4 Medjool Dates (pitted)

2 heaped tablespoons of cacao powder

¼ cup buckwheat groats (soaked and sprouted)

1 tablespoon of raw honey or agave nectar

¼ cup cacao butter

2 tablespoons of coconut oil/butter

1 heaped teaspoon Maca Root Powder

1 heaped teaspoon Raw Almond Meal (optional)

Pinch of salt

For icing:

1 heaped tablespoon cacao powder (for icing)

1 tablespoon agave nectar (for icing)

  1. Melt the cacao butter and coconut oil in a small glass, steel or ceramic bowl/mug sitting in a larger bowl of hot water. If your chunks of cacao butter are quite large, break them up in the bowl with a sharp knife. Stirring continuously will also help speed up the melting process.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the maca, almond meal and salt.
  3. Sprinkle this mixture over the bottom of the tin or dish you plan to use for the slice and set aside.
  4. Process the nuts into small pieces.
  5. Add the dates, honey and cacao powder and process until the dates are well blended.
  6. Pour mixture into a large bowl and stir through the buckwheat.
  7. Add about 1/3 of the melted cacao butter/coconut oil to the bowl and mix well. The consistency should resemble firm cookie dough. Retain remaining oil/butter for the icing.
  8. Press mixture into a low cake tin. Try to make the top as even as possible.
  9. Make icing: Combine cacao powder and agave with remaining oil/butter and stir until smooth.
  10. Pour icing over the top of the slice. Decorate with dried fruit/nuts of your choice.
  11. Set in fridge. Will be ready to eat within 10 minutes. Once set, the slice will store at room temperature or can be refrigerated.

Raw Coriander & Chilli Dip

I thought I might start sharing some of my food creations. I tend to be one of those people who just tries things out until it’s ‘right’ as opposed to sticking to strict measurements. Sorry if you prefer detailed instructions. I encourage you to give it a go anyway and just tweak to your taste…

Coriander & Chilli Dip


– Fresh Coriander

– Chilli to taste

– Lemon juice and a bit of rind

– Soaked Cashews (about 2 handfuls)

– Soaked Sunflower Seeds (about 2 handfuls)

– Sunflower Oil (or any oil – just enough to get things blending well)

– Garlic

– 1 large tomato

– Pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients. Start with a small amount of oil and gradually add more oil, water or lemon/lime juice if needed.

YUM!