EPISODE 3 Transcription: Why gaining 40 pounds was one of the best things to happen in my career
Welcome to Unique Impressions. The podcast that’s helping PR & marketing professionals lead happy, healthy and wealthy careers.
I’m your host Shauna Nuckles and you’re listening to Episode 3–Why gaining 40 pounds was one of the best things to happen in my career.
This is a very personal part of my career journey. Unlike the title might suggest, this isn’t a story of body positivity, self love or learning how to reach a fitness goal. For me, this story shined a light — a glaring spotlight — on what’s wrong with the way we work today and how I could do it differently. You ready?
Like I mentioned, this is a very personal story and was a turning point in my professional journey. Let me paint a picture for you on where I was in my career.
To outsiders, it probably looked like I was on top of the world. I was on the up-and-up in my career. Finally gaining traction and leadership responsibilities after what felt like an eternity being in junior and more assistant roles.
I started my career during the great recession, and my success came a lot more slowly than I thought it would. This is something that gave my type A, over achiever personality a lot of guilt and shame. For years, after I graduated, I pieced together some type of career that would get me experience, but still pay the bills. So i worked part time at a PR agency. I worked close to full time folding sweaters in retail and took on the occasional consulting or freelancing gig for small businesses in my community.
It was a lot of work, and it was very humbling.
So, when it started to finally feel like I was having some type of “success” — I felt like I just had to go with.
At my job at the time, we had just signed a couple of MAJOR clients, and I was leading all of our biggest accounts. It wasn’t a situation where I felt like I was in “over my head.” When I was in it, I was all in. And I was really doing well — in terms of delivering, meeting goals and expectations.
But I quickly found myself in a situation where I was working at all hours of the day. A few 12 hour days every once in a while, turned into a few 12 hour days each week to 12 hour days, all the time.
I know this is the norm at a lot of agencies. And like a lot of people who were building their careers during this time, I felt trapped in a situation where I couldn’t say anything–we were supposed to feel lucky to have jobs at all.
So, I kept working and working and working. And the body + mind I was used to being able to push hard started breaking down. I got to a point where I was so stressed I couldn’t sleep for more than 4 hours a night. I started having anxiety that I’d never had before. And…I gained 40 pounds in 3 months. This coming from someone who literally had been the exact same weight since I was 16 years old.
For me, this was a huge wake up call. And now, in reflecting back on that, I know that if my body hadn’t responded in this way, I would have ignored all of the other signs. I would have kept pushing and pushing, until something much worse happened.
So, I went to the doctor and basically was like, uh…what the EFF is going on. And, you know what they said? Stress. It’s all stress-related. I’m not going to get into the details of my diagnosis because I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to pretend to play one on the internet. But, everything that was going on with me was stress related. I tried a lot of things to “rebalance” my system. And ultimately, found myself in the doctor’s office up to 3 times a week for a year trying to get better.
They say stress in the silent killer. And it’s true. We really don’t take this as seriously as we should as a society. it’s silent in more ways than one. We’re so conditioned to live this way, that you don’t realize, that the things you’re doing every day are slowly killing you. I mean, I was healthy. I worked out, I had smoothies and salads every day. Got outside. Went to yoga. Did all the things. But, I was not well.
The other way it’s silent is that we keep quiet about it. This is the first time I’ve shared this story this publicly. I’ve told a few friends. But, there are a lot of people who know me and will likely hear this, and be shocked.
It took me probably a year before I even talked to anyone about what was going on with me. I was trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. Or I was convinced it wasn’t real, even though a doctor was telling me it was. How messed up is that?
But, it was a huge wake up call for me to act and live in a completely different way. What followed were a lot of conscious and subconscious shifts in the way I lived. I had several very uncomfortable conversations– at work and in my personal life. And to be completely honest with you, they didn’t always go well. I stumbled through them, said the wrong things, sometimes made people mad. But I had them, and I got better at having them, and I stopped feeling like I couldn’t or shouldn’t speak my mind and speak up for myself because it might make someone else (or myself) uncomfortable.
I also got really frickin’ honest with myself on what self care needed to look like. And I’m not talking about a face mask on Sunday, getting pedicures with your girlfriends or sweating it out in hot yoga. Yes, I did occasionally do those things. But they’re not the self care I needed. They’re a band aid for living life out of integrity. And however fun they might be, snapping pictures of your face mask to share on Instagram isn’t going to fix poor habits, an inability to set boundaries or an unwillingness to listen to what your body actually needs on a mental, physical or emotional level.
The self care I needed was setting healthy boundaries. It was leaving work at a reasonable hour and leaving work at work. It was not saying yes when I really wanted to say no.
It was not feeling like a slob when I needed to sleep 16 hours on the weekend. It was leaving FOMO at the door when I had to say no to a night out with friends and rest at home
The way we work today and how our society is conditioned is not conducive to doing this for ourselves. We’re getting better, but until these things become corporate policies, law and the cultural norm, we need to advocate for ourselves.
This is why I’m so passionate about this podcast and creating a resource all about changing the way we live and work for the better. Especially in PR & marketing, we work in such a fast-paced, high pressure industry. It’s easy to slip into habits of go-go-go, never saying no and looking at the person next to you and just trying to out-work–or at least keep up with them.
I’m here to tell you—that doesn’t work. It’s not how you stand out. It’s not how you succeed. It’s how you kill yourself.
So, with this episode, I have a request. I’d love to hear your experience with this. What’s been your experience with stress, health and work. What’s your story? Find me on Instagram @shaunanuckles–send me a DM. Let’s chat and let’s change it.
Until next time.