Many of the ailments I suffered as a child, which a lot of the time looked more like strange, or subtle quirks, I’ve only found out in the last years, were my metabolism giving me signs that it needed help.
Especially being cold all of the time– my fondest morning practice was going by the vent heater and sitting on top of it, every single day. This wasn’t only a childlike, cute thing that I did for comfort, it felt like a necessity. I was extremely uncomfortable if I didn’t. I knew instinctively that I needed the heat, but didn’t know why. I was always curious but certainly didn’t understand, and no one around me was informed on what might be causing it. I can see how from an outside perspective it might just appear cute, or odd. I, however, have always been very curious.
Metabolism is a topic I’m now heavily incorporating into my practice, as I’ve learned that if it’s not right, nothing else will be. Before this, I spent years with illness after illness thinking I was doing everything “right”.
I had heart problems I couldn’t figure out, anxiety all of the time, was never warm, and somehow assumed that I was just dealing with some really difficult infections, and I was “different”.
I neglected to realize I wasn’t feeding myself much— not nearly enough or the minimum amount required to make a body function at baseline. It’s sad, I thought I was doing right by quitting counting calories, but was unknowingly incorporating years of “knowledge” ingrained by the mainstream of how to always eat minimally– from using smaller plates to never eating more than a half cup of grains or the serving size shown on various containers. This subliminal knowledge was leading me to eat minimal amounts all of the time, and with not counting calories combined with that, I wasn’t eating enough!
No wonder I had heart palpitations every night along with other symptoms of infections that persisted even with, or came back after using various treatments.
Most of all, it was ruining my life. I never felt like I could travel or do anything because one I was sick, and two I couldn’t eat anywhere because none of the food was “good enough”. I’ve gone from minimizing animal protein, to keto, to paleo, to Weston price, and always highlighted a very strict only organic standard— and all of it included the same neurotic restriction that was a hindrance.
I’m not saying no one can benefit from any of these things, but optimizing body temperature, by way of eating enough to feed the metabolism, should be everyone’s main priority. After all, humans (and all animals) are around as a result of eating the food that they could, following hunger signals rather than fighting them.
“Health” today is judged by such a superficial standard that people can look at you and automatically think they know more, despite the fact you may have tried everything and beyond what they’re currently doing, only to experience more problems down the road.
It’s amazing what the body can do when the body can do when we honor it and give it the food that it needs and is asking for without prioritizing outer appearance and others’ opinions before it.
And, as a natural result, either immediately or when the body is ready to trust you again the body will let go of what it doesn’t need.
But we can’t expect it to match our unending standards which are never satisfied. Fitness models who made themselves sick chasing this, and former anorexics alike, will attest to the fact that if we don’t prioritize our holistic wellness first, we will never get a holistic sense of satisfaction that makes us feel good and happy in our own skin.
The transformation I’ve experienced from letting go of numbers and outer appearance and committing to feeding (and loving) myself first and foremost includes but is not limited to: optimizing digestion to the point that I no longer have to take supplements which I relied upon heavily beforehand not to have acid reflux, and having regular bowel movements without trying whereas all while I was trying to eat a perfect diet I sought out many facets to provide this, and despite lots of money spent, none of them produced the same results or fixed the foundational issue. Ultimately I wasn’t giving myself the energy I needed for my body to provide regular bowel movements for digestion. My body stopped trusting me to feed it so it conserved the energy and held on for dear life. This is also why my weight could fluctuate as long as I remember despite dieting and restricting in some way, for as long as I remember.
This ties back into the cause of lower body temperature. The body downregulates mechanisms to all extents possible to make oneself survive, marked by body temperature, as this represents the metabolism, which goes hand in hand with thyroid function. This explains why my hair would be falling out when I was undereating—this is a hypothyroid symptom. Hair isn’t essential to survival, so the body will stop producing what it doesn’t need.
For people undereating for long enough, this conservation mechanism even haults physical hunger signals. The body needs calories for the muscle contractions required to cause a growling stomach, and if the body has to conserve even that it will. Instead, it will concede and make you think about food, which people this far out of touch with their body will also ignore or accept as “normal”, or the body plotting against them, while it’s only doing everything to make them survive.
On the other end of things, I can attest to the fact that even after years of restrictive under- feeding, the body will restore itself. My body temperature rose to a baseline of at least 97.8 after enough time of eating despite not wanting to and/ or being scared. This eventually changed into normal hunger signals and simply giving in and allowing. The rise in body temperature happened in a relatively short period of time, after being low even since my childhood– which doctors couldn’t explain at the time. Now it stays there without me having to monitor it and actively participate in regulating it (by eating with this in mind) like I did in my beginning stages of recovery. I’ve learned how to stay cognisant and look out for the symptoms such as feeling cold, anxiety, dizziness, loss of appetite again, weakness, tachycardia, restless legs, hair falling out, and getting/ feeling sick.
While yes, I’ve gained more than I would’ve imagined weighing before (naturally, given the preposterous measures I was taking), I’ve also lost a good portion truly effortlessly, to the point I didn’t even know I was doing it. This is a very clear difference from monitoring my body quite consistently, since I can remember, and despite restriction and suffering severely from it, never feeling actually accomplished. Well, there’s one exception– the time I cut out more foods than ever, decided to go keto as that was “the thing to do” at the time, after which point I lost the ability to digest nearly anything, became bed- ridden and in an unhealthy way, much skinnier than before. Just after that point, I felt pretty good about my body, but that’s about it.
I also don’t think I would’ve gained nearly as much If I wouldn’t have taken my same OCD nature that got me in trouble in the first place into recovery. Regardless, I’m happy where I am, have gained so much and will never look at life the same—it has truly transformed. I don’t feel alienated from the outside world like I used to when I was a perfectionist with food, and starving myself. I feel problems are solvable. I feel like my body can handle more than it ever could before. I’ve gained muscles I never had, during the time I started resting and eating more alone (no exercise—no joke!). I always felt like I wouldn’t be able to handle a pregnancy, and in my state, it baffled me to think that others could, it would just be “too much”, depleting and draining— but now I actually think my body would be able to handle it. And there’s not much that’s more significant than that. I feel like I can actually breathe easier. It’s like I controlled my breathing before without even knowing it— breaths were shallow. But now I’m in more of a state of relaxation (a parasympathetic state (what eating enough will create) which is hailed as a key to all aspects of health in pretty much any sector of “wellness”) its natural, and it’s amazing how that contributes to making things so much easier. Even stress is more livable. I have my sense of humor back, maybe one I didn’t even have before. Despite the lack of tunnel vision regarding externality, I actually feel more confident than ever, all around. This is in a much more holistic way that I never would’ve understood outside of this process. Thank you God!