Loving your body and yourself as a person can be super hard in a world that is constantly encouraging you to be someone different. Even men aren’t immune to it though we women like to think they are. I convinced the husband recently to branch out of his usual tennis, basketball and skaters shoes he wears. Yesterday he asked if I was sure he looked okay and this morning again the question arose. So even my husband, who will tell you he doesn’t care much what other people think of him, secretly cares as well.
Growing up I learned really fast that I wasn’t like normal girls going through the stages of growing up. At age 13 I started getting a list of random symptoms, skin boils, a never ending period, exhaustion, headaches and extremely fast weight gain. Before that I wasn’t obese, I wasn’t a big child, I was a normal active child up until that point. I quit sports, I started getting extremely self conscious. I lost a lot of my confidence. It didn’t help that I was the “fat” sister. It didn’t help that a few of my family members were really hard on me about my weight gain. At one point one of my own grandmothers called me fat and lazy. It didn’t help that I had to go to a nurse practitioners and get many tests ran to see what was wrong with me. At age 21 I hit my highest weight and I got a diagnoses. PCOS. It is still a pretty rare condition, they still don’t know if it is genetic or something else and they still don’t know how to deal with it. Each woman with PCOS is extremely different. I bleed too much, other’s don’t bleed at all. So on top of PCOS I battle anemia often, I battle fatigue, chronic headaches, achy joints due to the excess weight, facial hair, acne and anxiety (which has been linked to PCOS but not confirmed as a cause for it). All of these symptoms sometimes make it really hard to leave the house, let alone function out there in society without seriously wondering if everyone is judging me. My point is this, falling into what society considers beautiful hasn’t been easy for me and I have been the center of some serious ridicule from family/friends/strangers because of it. But I think in the end, I am my worst critic.
I have spent most of my life cursing my body for what it couldn’t do, have a normal period, not produce boils, have an acne/hair free face, not have a baby. When I hit a wall I go through a whole body bashing session. Such as when I can’t hike as far as the husband or run as long as I would like too. When I fail in conceiving again. I hit limitations and I beat myself up for them. I expect perfection and I am not perfect. I eat to punish my body for the things it can’t do. I eat to soothe my fears and stress. I use food as my drug to feel good about myself. In the end though it results in the same thing it always has, weight gain which aggravates my PCOS symptoms to the point of being unmanageable again. This starts in having to eventually deal with it all because I can’t live through my busy days struggling with chronic headaches, insomnia, mood swings, bleeding, anemia, acne and fatigue.
Recently I was faced with a decision, one of those life moments where you look really closely at the reality of a situation and see it for truly what it is, not for what you want it to be. In the end it was 15 pounds, sore ankles and almost daily headaches that pushed me into realizing that I needed to deal with the part of me that still hates my body or else I was going to be doomed to repeat this pattern of emotionally eating. I don’t know how much more my body can take before it starts giving out on me. This last week I have had horrible back pain, knee pain, left hip pain and ankle pain due to my 15 pound gain in May. It was a hard month and I used that as an excuse to comfort myself with junk food. I emotionally eat because I don’t self sooth well and I emotionally eat because I don’t like my body. Emotionally eating is a self abuse cycle for me, I get stressed, get mad at myself for letting things stress me out, emotionally eat, feel immensely guilty, then that guilt leads me to bashing my body, then that body bashing leads to craving junk food again and results in me eating it. The cycle just keeps going around. I fear getting healthy because I fear it won’t fix anything, that I will still be infertile, I will still have strong PCOS symptoms and I will still hate my body. These fears also cause such a strong emotional response in myself that I self sabotage. It is so hard to understand the effects and mentality of an emotional eater unless you are one. I actually don’t like donuts or fast food, I prefer the taste of healthy food but the urge to shove as many donuts in my mouth as possible is a very strong impulse when I am unhappy.
So I took a huge leap. I made a big decision for me. I decided to fall back into my yoga practice and head back to the studio that was teaching me so much about how to love my body. I signed up for their 6 week beginners series. Every Thursday after work I will be putting on my yoga pants and rolling out my mat. I will be learning all the basic moves and getting comfortable in using them. My hopes, to heal, to gain strength, to gain flexibility and to settle back into appreciating my body for what it can do instead of what it can’t do. After that I get 2 weeks of unlimited yoga classes. I am very excited. It is time to heal and it is time to address the root of my weight gain.
I am not saying this is how everyone should do it. I have debated therapy for my emotional eating and it is still a real possibility for me if I can’t overcome it. But in my case, yoga reached a place inside me I had never reached before emotionally. There was times during certain poses and meditations that I felt a few tears slip out. The response my body and mind had to yoga was truly amazing to me. But not just any yoga, it was specifically the yoga I was learning at the studio down the way from my house. The teachers at this studio talk during the whole practice about settling into your body, feeling the strength, thanking your body and really getting in touch with how it is feeling that day. Settling into my body like that was uncomfortable for me because I was only used to bashing my body and feeling awkward in it. I was never good at settling into it. It pushed my comfort zone to the max and that push made me start to feel differently about the health condition/body I was given. I pulled away from yoga in May because I was feeling overwhelmed and pushing myself out of my boundaries mentally/physically felt like too much but now I realize it is what I need to do in order to heal. Will it completely fix my problem? I don’t think so but there are so many other benefits to yoga that make it well worth the risk.
Do you practice yoga?
On a side note, this weeks nails are brought to you by pink and glitter. I am actually super proud of this weeks design, it would appear I am getting better at doing my own nails.