Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe, medical doctor and author who specialises in natural medicine, workplace wellness and stress management.
A few synchronicities have been popping up lately around my own health challenges, patients who consult me, and in assisting journalists specifically writing on this topic. It’s the prevalent topic of insulin resistance/sensitivity, and later development of metabolic syndrome*. These are major health challenges for many women today. They go hand in hand with overweight/obesity/struggle to maintain weight, latent diabetes, depression, heart disease with, underlying it all, mental-emotional blocks with extreme distress and elevated cortisol levels.
There are many types of women in our society, but the one that cries out for the healing the loudest is the Female Warrior. She longs to transform herself into the Goddess and yet often doesn’t even know it. Nor does she know how.
Struggling with your weight is not lack of will power! There are more factors involved in this health challenge found in many women over 40!
Metabolic syndrome*, insulin resistance / sensitivity, finally diabetes mellitus, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low thyroid function are only some of the health issues to be regarded in an integrative holistic (i.e. whole being) approach to managing weight and finding inner peace.
Is your physical health the reason you struggle to be the best you can be? Optimal health means wholeness and wellness of body, mind, emotions and soul. Your ability to integrate all of these, will have an influence on your wellbeing.
You try to eat healthily, you exercise, you try so hard, but still can’t keep the weight off. There’s more to weight control than will power. Are you angry, do you feel it’s time for ‘me’, are you tired of fighting, organising, getting things done? Unconscious emotional blockages and long forgotten memories may sabotage your best intentions.
Physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance or sensitivity, high cortisol levels, even depression, are all the tip of the iceberg’s signs of the soul in the depths of your being, crying out to be heard and paid attention to. Female warriors are scared of their own inner voice, their true self. ‘What if it tells me to leave my husband, leave my work, leave even my kids, to follow my inner calling?’. This is the burning fear preventing many of us to do the brave work that would help us find and listen to the small, still voice within. We have to transcend the ego’s struggles for survival, and realise that our true calling means finding the balance between our male and female energies, doing our heart’s desire, and still be there for our loved ones. After all, before the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, it pumps it to itself first. This is self love, not a selfish act. If we don’t love and care for ourselves first, we cannot do so for others. Our husbands and children will fight this journey of ours! After all, they’ve had it so good for so many years! Who’d want to grow up, care for themselves, take some responsibility? You have to be firm, convinced of your true path. Things will change. There are no guarantees that the journey will be smooth sailing, but it has to be better than fighting all the time!
As James Hillman said in his book ‘A Blue Fire’:
‘The right reaction to a symptom may as well be a welcoming rather than laments and demands for remedies, for the symptom is the first herald of an awakening psyche which will not tolerate any more abuse. Through the symptom the psyche demands attention. Attention means attending to, tending, a certain tender care of, as well as waiting, pausing, listening. It takes a span of time and a tension of patience. Precisely what each symptom needs is time and tender care and attention. Just this same attitude is what the soul needs in order to be felt and heard.’
Treating the symptoms with prescription drugs is treating only the effect. It might help keep the lid on the simmering pot, but eventually, we all have to find the origin or cause of the fire, before the pot boils over and you get a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes. Treating only symptoms, is like trying to fix the computer screen because of a fault in the hard drive!
Weight struggles go hand in hand with high stress levels. The emotional turmoil inside and the experience of life outside, lead to constant elevated cortisol levels which interacts with insulin and blood sugar, and accumulation of fat, especially around the abdomen. This increases the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol (metabolic syndrome*) and finally, heart attack, stroke or heart disease. All of these are compounded by depression.
The mental-emotional issues underlying the symptoms, are those of women with a lot of responsibility, having to make all the decisions, take control, organise. Even in their role as wife and mother, they assume the stance of the warrior. Female warriors are almost always at war with themselves and become angry, bitter and resentful, because they feel they have to be the protector and caretaker, the organiser and manager. After 40, most women often reach a stage where they are dead tired of all the fighting. Then the physical symptoms manifest.
There is a solution! A holistic, integrative way to wellness. The process starts with awareness of the problem. Then the decision to go on the journey of self discovery, to build self esteem, to learn to let go, surrender, let God. To release, forgive and surrender all the control, inner pain, anger, fear, and guilt. The inner shift from ‘female warrior’ tot ‘female goddess’ will guide the process. Up to the age of 40 and even older, female warriors had to use their male energy as the dominant force in their lives, to prove themselves in the workplace, home and society. Now the battle weary warrior wants to bury the hatchet, abandon the heavy body armour, and release into the feminine energy, to become the woman she feels connected to deep inside the core of her being. This is the exciting journey of awakening the female within.
Of course there are natural remedies and physical tools to assist your inner journey. Exercises like Nia technique and belly dance, as well as yoga, are very effective ways to help your body release cell memories and awaken the goddess. Scientists like Candace Pert, have proven that the cells in our body have the ability to store memories and that body-mind exercises help free the blocked emotions and stuck memories. Physical problems, like hart disease, are connected to the suppressed and unconscious emotions inside the cells of the body. Refer Neuropeptides: The Molecules of Emotion.
To eat healthy is of course very important. Follow a lifestyle eating plan high in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses and good quality carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (GI). Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Sleep deeply in darkness for 6-8 hours a night.
* Metabolic syndrome is a lifestyle disease consisting of the following symptoms occurring together: high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, high fasting insulin and blood sugar (hyperglycaemia). Metabolic syndrome carries an increased risk for developing chronic disease, if not managed. As it is a lifestyle disease, it can be managed by lowering body mass, insulin, blood sugar and cholesterol levels through diet, exercise and stress management. This will reduce the risk for any of the chronic lifestyle diseases, namely heart disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis.
Exercise, correct eating, weight loss, natural remedies such as manna, Gymnema sylvestre, chromium, vanadium, molybdenum, all in a food state or amino acid chelate, antioxidants, as well as stress management and body-mind healing, are the prescribed tools to manage metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance
Join us for the female warrior to female goddess workshop in March 2008! Read more about it in the Retreat section