When you don’t know what is happening in your body, you can feel lost and defeated. You might even feel like your body is betraying you.
For many months, I walked around with an undiagnosed chronic illness. I was extremely tired and lethargic, no matter how many hours I slept. I was constantly dealing with painful and uncomfortable digestive issues that seemed to never go away. I was irritable for no apparent reason, not to mention, I had no desire to spend intimate time with my extremely understanding and supportive husband. It wasn’t a pretty picture at all.
When I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in May 2018, it was a huge relief. Finally, I had some answers to questions circling around my head about my body. However, a new journey was now beginning — I had to figure out how to structure my personal and professional life with my new diagnosis.
As a Virgo and obsessive planner, I was determined to do two things. First, learn more about Hypothyroidism. Second, create a daily action plan I would commit to. Yes, there was medicine I could take to address the hormonal imbalance taking place, but there was so much more I needed to do to change my routines. Here are five ways
Generally, women need to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. On average, I was sleeping between 4 to 5 hours a night. That was unacceptable. Not only was that behavior unsustainable, it was affecting my health in ways I probably didn’t even understand. The more rested you are, the stronger you feel for a busy day ahead. The days of sleeping 1 to 2 hours a night were over for me. Sleeping more was my No. 1 priority to feel better and get everything into place.
Growing up in a Jamaican household, I was used to seeing my hardworking parents and relatives push through pain and discomfort to accomplish their goals. This type of behavior is admirable, but it can be dangerous in the long run. Yes, to be successful you need to work hard and be determined to push past obstacles. However, you don’t need to destroy your body along the way. That was something I had to learn. Your body talks to you each and every day. It tells you when it is hungry, tired and thirsty. If you ignore the signals, you will most likely regret those neglectful moments later on. Why do this to yourself? Now, when I am feeling tired, I take a break and drink some water. When my body is feeling stiff, I get up and stretch my legs. There is always time to take care of yourself. If you don’t believe this to be true, you are absolutely lying to yourself. Health is wealth. If you refuse to take care of your body, who will?
A healthy lifestyle comes with many different boundaries. There are boundaries we must put in place with the people in our lives, ones we must implement regarding our own harmful or toxic behaviors, and ones that must arise regarding nutritional and fitness choices. After my diagnosis, it was paramount I design and implement all of these boundaries in my life. I definitely reduced the time spent with toxic people; They were energy vampires I had absolutely no time for. I monitored foods that were not helping me feel good. Yes, fried chicken is yummy, but it's not something I can physically afford to eat as often as I like. Plus, the days of sitting still for four to six hours at a time were over. Moving my body wasn’t optional anymore. Moving my body was something I needed to prioritize daily, even at work.
I love the word “no” because it is a two-letter word that comes with such a big punch. To change my life, I needed to use this two-letter word in two primary ways. First, I had to say it for myself. I had to refuse to wallow in my pain, discomfort or doubts about my health. The stories you tell yourself become your reality. I was not going to see my future as anything less than bright, promising and blessed. Second, I needed to say no to activities or spending time with people I didn’t want. It’s much easier to maintain your energy levels if you strategically guard your time and how you use it. Essentially, I had to cut out “wasted time” so I could focus on what mattered most to me personally and professionally.
Exercising can be such a touchy subject for some people. Some love to do it; They live for it. They are gym rats 24/7 and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Conversely, there are some people who look at exercise like it is their arch-nemesis. When I don’t move my body, I feel pain and discomfort. When I move my body a lot, I feel aches and pain. What’s the solution? I am learning how to change my perspective around pain itself. If it is possible to be in pain whether I move or not, then I need to work on getting stronger so the pain isn’t as severe when I feel it. This is an ongoing journey for me that has had many hiccups along the way. But every day is a new opportunity to walk a bit more during the workday, hop on my exercise bike, dance along to a dance video or run around my house with my silly dog J.J. The point is to move around!
As a coach, I am constantly teaching my clients the value of being kind to themselves as they are pursuing their goals. However, this was a lesson I had to learn in a whole new way after my diagnosis. When I would gain weight for absolutely no reason, get stiff joints that made working out extremely difficult or deal with painful digestive issues, compassion for myself was how I got through. Frustration, anger and feeling defeated wasn’t doing anything but making my circumstances worse.
I am grateful to be alive. I am blessed to have a husband who loves and supports me no matter what. I am extremely honored to live in Arizona and to be doing what I love professionally. Life is filled with the unexpected, especially when you have a chronic illness, but you are alive. I refuse to take anything for granted and I live with joy, purpose and fulfillment each and every day!
Natasha Nurse is a speaker, coach, podcaster, and content creator. She started Dressing Room 8 to provide a web-based resource where women can gain personal and professional empowerment through her fashion and lifestyle focused blog. Dressing Room 8 helps women learn how to think with clarity, dress with confidence, and live with purpose. She is the Lifestyle Editor for Plus Model Magazine and she co-hosts a podcast with her husband called WokeNFree. Follow Natasha on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Don’t forget to join her Dressing Room 8 and WokeNFree groups on FGB.