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Why “Working On” My Body Doesn’t Work (And What Does Work)

Pearl, my body- and self-loving parrot, encourages me to continue what I am learning about working with my body!

In my last post here, I shared with you that I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism last November.

Not only did this diagnosis put together some pieces of a years-long battle with seasonal illness, but it also pretty much dismantled everything I thought I knew about the healing process.

What I mean is, I realized I know nothing. No-thing. I don’t know anything about anything when it comes to maintaining my own body.

By the way, I am comfortable with this now. But I wasn’t when it first started.

In other words, it wasn’t like I got sick, got diagnosed, and then woke up the next day and thought, “Oh – that’s what the problem has been – I don’t know anything about how to really maintain my body properly.”

Nope. I just panicked. I felt depressed. I drank wine. I continued my same eating habits….habits I had carefully built over many years and really believed were healthy. I continued to struggle to sleep. I ached all over. My mind was like a permanent dense fog bank with limitless reserves. my thoughts played hide-n-seek with each other and I was never invited to join in the game.

I slept instead of working and when I was awake, I occupied myself by watching my bank balance drop lower.

Then, through a series of events I describe in my last post, I started to realize what the root issue is. I don’t know how to take care of my body. I really don’t. All of the habits and behaviors I had been relying on were cobbled together in the wake of a 20-year battle with anorexia and bulimia, and I hadn’t really changed much since those early days of real recovery.

Not only that, but I was clinging to a whole crop load of outdated thoughts and beliefs, including “I can’t change my eating habits or limit what types of foods I eat or it might re-trigger my eating disorder.”

Baloney. Hogwash. Total, pure, unadulterated crap. As if.

I woke up one day, grumpy and aching as usual, and started daydreaming about a do-over. What if I could just wipe away everything I thought I knew, everything I was doing, everything I thought about what I was doing, and just start over? 

What if I could go back to Day One and begin again?

The odd thing is, this is exactly the same process I used to recover from the deeper levels of my eating disorder back nearly 15 years ago when I was 33. I had gone as far as I could go doing the same thing and thinking the same way, and I knew I couldn’t go on much further. I would die if I kept on without changing how I was living.

Now here I am, age 47, and it is time to start over once again.

As I share in my last post, one of the changes I have made is to pretend I know nothing at all about practicing yoga and start over again from the beginning. To do this, I am taking a 30-day yoga course on YouTube. My teacher, Adrienne, is young and wise.

One day (I think around day 8 or so), she made a comment about noticing the difference between working on our bodies and working with our bodies.

It hit home for me. Working on my body feels like an item on a to-do list somewhere. Working with my body feels like getting together for a good healthy pow-wow with a friend, a partner, a mentor I trust.

I much prefer the latter.

This newfound awareness hasn’t much shifted what I am working on with my body. But it has greatly changed how I am doing that work with my body. We are in this together. We both invest. We both benefit. When we stumble, we both take the fall together. And when we get back up, we help each other to rise again, even leaning on each other for support.

Suddenly, my body’s wellbeing is my wellbeing, and my wellbeing is my body’s wellbeing. I love living life this way. I love it so much I don’t even mind it took me 47 years and a total restart to learn it.

Today’s Takeaway: Has life ever presented you with a challenge or opportunity so big you had to literally re-write the script for your whole life – body, mind, heart, spirit – to say “yes” to it? What was your reaction? Was it difficult to make the shift or was it easy? Did it bring you unexpected gifts?


Why “Working On” My Body Doesn’t Work (And What Does Work)

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2018). Why “Working On” My Body Doesn’t Work (And What Does Work). Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 May 2018
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