“I need to get into shape. My doctor tells me that if I don’t lose weight, I might have a heart attack.” “Diabetes is in my family. I’m next.” “I’ve tried exercising and dieting – nothing works.” “I feel like my body has betrayed me.” Being fit and well is a complicated thing. Media messages twist ideas about what is healthy and beautiful. Our own experiences colour our sense of trust in our own bodies.
I’ve met very few people who actually love their body and feel great about what it can do. I’m not one of them.
It started at age 12. It was called puberty. Each month, my gut would cramp up, and I would know I was a real woman. At age 19, I went to Central America and took a malaria medication that my body reacted to. I had panic like symptoms, experiences of weakness and some strange motor issues. This went on for two years, and was only diagnosed a couple of years after that, when a doctor asked for my medical history and recognized the symptoms.
As my 20’s progressed, the illness from the malaria medication subsided and my monthly pain became more severe. I would occasionally faint or throw up.
I discovered Advil and quickly began overusing it to manage day to day activities each month.
With the pain came heavier and heavier bleeding. Dr.’s tried various interventions: a variety of pain killers, birth control, an IUD (intrauterine device) and some medication normally used after surgery to reduce blood flow.
My first birth resulted in a still birth (more on that in a later post), and my physical recovery from that complicated birth was about 9 months, and was impacted by grief.
When my oldest child was born I contracted a candida infection that lasted 8 months and created extreme pain in breast feeding.
My genetics have kept me from ever becoming extremely overweight, but I have never been interested in sports, and have never been able to stick to a consistent exercise plan.
Now I’m in my 40’s, and lack of exercise is taking its toll. I’ve come to realize that I don’t actually trust my body.
I think if I push it, it will crash on me. From all my starting and stopping of various exercise programs, I’ve come to believe that if I keep trying it won’t actually change.
I’ve been thinking about what I need to do to overcome my distrust of myself and my body and start caring for it regularly. I’m trying a few things. I recently had a D & C (Dilation and Curettage) and a uterine ablation (where they cauterize the lining of your uterus) in an attempt to reduce monthly bleeding and pain. I’ve purchased a mouth guard to deal with nighttime clenching that may be related to my pain which has impacted my neck. I’ve started going to physiotherapy and am trying to follow through on the recommendations. I’m trying to drink more water and am looking at couple of apps to help me remember what I want to do consistently. I’ve had to recognize that not all things will work on the first try. I’m four months post op, and the pain is still higher than I would like each month, but I’m planning a follow-up to see if there’s anything else I should be doing.
I’ve decided not to give up on my body. We still have a way to go together and I want to improve our relationship. It’s not going to happen overnight. I need to spend time regularly listening to it, taking it seriously and showing that I care.
I know name calling doesn’t help (see We’re talking, Big Changes), and assuming the worst will only erode trust. We have some history to work through, but I know we’ve had our good times, and so I have hope that, with a renewed sense of commitment, we can be better together. I’ll keep you posted.
For more on holistic health and wellbeing see How to Make a First Aid Kit for Your Emotions – Part I
For even more on emotional self care see Your Emotional First Aid Kit- Part II
To read about community building see What do Adults do for Fun?