A few years ago, I was a full-time yoga teacher. I was teaching 22 classes, 7 days a week (not counting private clients), and not eating well at all. My schedule kind of cornered me into eating once or twice a day and I was totally dehydrated because all the classes I taught were “hot.” I’m talking 105*F-110*F and this is in Florida. My meals were usually a giant bowl of pasta or a salad or protein powder in water. I was completely out of balance but I didn’t think it was a big deal.

My knees would swell after any amount of physical activity, my skin was SO DRY all the time, and I didn’t have the muscular integrity for a Handstand to save my life. I had daily cluster headaches behind my eye and could barely even crank out a few pushups, but hey– I could practically wear my legs as a scarf so I thought, “meh whatever! I’m fine!” I actually remember getting sick about half a dozen times that year.

I went in to the doctor for a routine check-up and found that a lot of my blood work was out of whack. My cholesterol was on the high side of normal (what?!), my blood pressure was elevated, my thyroid was hypoactive, and I was underweight. What was going on?!

Literally 4 days after this appointment I had to be on a plane to Berlin and would be in Europe for 3 months. So I put it all out of my mind and decided to take care of this when I got back. After all, there was a TON of work ahead of me…

My time in Europe was a dream. I’d obviously left my old schedule behind and was only filming for a few hours a day 5 days a week in Berlin… in a normal & temperate room! In contrast this was a breeze! After a month there we came to France, and the entire stay in both countries I ate everything I wanted without any restriction. I ate deer, beef, pork, pastries with butter, full-fat lattes, ice cream, chocolate truffles, pretzel croissants (yes, you read that right– life changing), pizza, and seafood. I drank beer, wine, limoncello– you name it!

After I wrapped filming, the only yoga I did was super restorative and I did zero exercise except tons of walking. I gained 10 lbs in those 3 months, but honestly felt amazing. I remember looking at my legs before coming back home and saying, “OH MY GOSH I HAVE CALF MUSCLES!”

When I came home after that I went straight back to my doctor to get a full blood panel again, wanting to get a good baseline before I jumped into any changes.

Days passed and no phone calls came in to deliver my results. So I called the office to get some answers and the nurse read each result to me, one by one. Every single number was well within a healthy, normal range. Not a single measurement was “off.” Not even close.

In retrospect, I know I’d run my body into the ground with my old schedule. I used and abused it without considering what it needed for fuel and longevity. After such a long period of time in such poor treatment, I think my body relished getting everything it wanted and more! I really feel that everything I ate and did during that 3 month period was healing in every way.

Fast forward to today and I strength train 4x a week and yoga the remaining days. My yoga practices are highly functional, stabilizing, and restorative. I feel stronger than I ever have in my entire yoga career, but please don’t ask me to do a flipped-grip Dancer pose! 😉

I eat a ton of green stuff but I also can’t say no to a juicy piece of melon wrapped in prosciutto.

Life is about finding balance, and “balance” will mean different things at different times. I wish I could go back to my Self of 5 years ago and tell her to eat a burger and take a week off. At least I think I’ve got the hang of what balance means to me now though 🙂

Over to you! What lessons have you learned about your body? What would you go back and tell your Self of 5 years ago when it comes to your health/body image?