At this point, as we’re making the mad dash towards the finish, it’s tempting to say, “I’ll just eat whatever I can get my hands on” or “I can sleep after this is all done.” Although there certainly are concessions that have to be made, it is even more crucial during crunch-time to take care of yourself as much as possible. That means eating some damn vegetables, and getting to bed each night. Sure, this may not be the best time to try that juice cleanse that your aunt keeps bringing up, but you should at least try to keep your body from double-crossing you when you need it most.
A couple of months ago, I joined the Nerd Fitness Academy. This was in an effort to tackle something probably at least fourteen years in the making: getting a real handle on my health. I made some headway, but then I came to a place in the mindset courses that was about ‘finding the big WHY.’ Why do you want to change. Why do I want to take charge of myself physically. And I would get stuck.
Honestly, this post has taken days to write. I always think I’m set to start and then I start writing about my body, and sadness takes over. That should be pretty telling.
There are two things that have been a constant in my life:
1. I’ve always been fat.
2. I’ve always been conflicted about that fact.
There was one point where I was at least ‘average’ and I attained it by very unhealthy means (hey there, puberty! Oh, weird body changes *and* crippling anxiety/depression? Yes please). Otherwise, I’ve always been on the larger end.
I’ve faced the ‘Aw man, you would be great if you lost weight,’ and I’ve heard the ‘He’s not into fat chicks.’ I used to hate seeing pictures of myself. I’m still squeamish. On an average day, I’m passably content, but I’ve never really loved my physical self.
And what’s worse, when I feel like I want to go out and experience the world, I’m always afraid that I’ll be stopped short on account of my weight.
I don’t want to live like that anymore. I’m tired of worrying and being unhappy.
I want to be able to do things without thinking ‘is my body capable?’ I want to be comfortable in my skin. I want to go to the doctor’s office without that pit of dread in my stomach. I want to feel like I have a handle on my body.
So that is…really why I’m here. I’m nervous. I’m excited.
And I’m about to hit ‘post’ before I lose my nerve.
Okay, guys, I’m just going to say it. This post is not for you. Move along.
So. Periods, amirite?
It feels like there’s maybe two weeks out of the month where I feel like a normal person. I take hormonal birth control pills, so I have at least the convenience of a schedule that says, “Okay, for these days, just assume I’ve lost my ability to function.” But in the latter part of the week leading up to my period, the week of, and half of the week following, there is a flood of A’s: anguish, anxiety, anger, ambivalence, assholishness.
I hated feeling this way for a long time. The attitude that I was always exposed to was, “You’re just going to have to deal with it, and it sucks, but too bad.”
And I suddenly realized, at least for me, that that would only be true if I didn’t care enough to change how I operated between the crazy times.
Everybody is different, but I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me.
- Calendar reminders: I have filled out my calendar with the timeframes that I know things are going to be Not Good. It may seem like a small thing, but having that visual reminder is really helpful.
- Mantra: I remind myself, Your feelings are real and valid. You just have a more difficult time dealing with them presently. I’m no less of myself when my body is in utter freak-out mode. However, rather than internalizing stress, I may just explode at whoever it around me. Just knowing that it’s a possibility makes me better able to move away from potentially volatile scenarios.
- Work around it: It doesn’t always pan out, but I will try and get as much of my personal goals accomplished prior to that time as possible. Of course things may come up, but I feel better knowing that I won’t be nagging myself if I don’t feel up to it.
- Plow through it: this one is a bit ‘mind over (gross) matter.’ I try to get focused as tightly as I can on what I am doing. It is so, so easy for me to overthink on small things that come up during those two weeks. Mole hills? More like Appalachians. So I refuse to dwell too long on slights, worries and little things.
What sort of tricks do you ladies use to handle that ever-so-special time of the month?
I’ve been walking through the hills of the rural Pennsylvania for several hours. I am not so much covered in mud as I am carrying it in my clothes, on my skin, in my hair, and tucked away in places it should not be. There are suds sticking all over me, so I can’t wipe my face. My knee is telling me that this is not a good idea, and it joins forces with my calf, shins, glutes. This could all be over quickly if I just cross my arms above my head at the wrists and wait for the golf cart to take me out.
In a few minutes, I’m running up a tarp that’s at an incline. I grab a rope and refuse to let go, but the rest of my body won’t do anything else. There are people I don’t know screaming my name, telling me not to stop. They are grabbing me, pulling me. I stare at one of their bloody knees and I can’t believe that I am trusting so much in these strangers. I’ve never felt so much a part of something. I had thought that around the second mile or so, they would move on, but this group of women said, “We’re going to finish this together” and we do.
A charlie horse starts screaming throughout my leg. “I can’t even walk,” I say. And it’s okay. I’ve come so far. But then I’m standing, waiting for the ride back to the starting point, I feel this insidious sneer from the dark figure, my weakness manifested. It says, “I knew you’d quit. I knew it. Even at the very end, you’re quitting.” So I wave them on, and keep walking. Not just walking. I climb up a rope ladder. I stop and growl halfway, because the devils in the gravity are trying to pull me down. I keep putting one foot and one hand through at a time and then…
I am kissed by running water. Someone helps swing my leg over, and I accept their assistance without apology, without whimper. I’m sitting, staring over the rolling hills to the farms and rainclouds beyond. I let go and plummet down a water slide into deep, cool water. I’m washed clean. When my head comes up, I am whooping, over and over.
I wanted to do Mudderella because it looked like a fun way to test what my body could do. It turned out to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever put myself through. It also made me put my trust and faith in people in a way that I never had before. I never felt shamed, or put down, or given up on. I couldn’t believe the spirit I saw out there on Saturday. It was beautiful and amazing. I challenge everyone to do it.
Force yourself out of your comfort zone. I dare you.