It never fails to amaze me, how very derailed I am able to get from something I know, something I think I have completely internalized and woven in as part of my life. Thus is my condition on the journey of letting God teach me to love my body.
These days I find myself longingly remembering the confidence with which I strutted around a year and a half ago, feeling great about my body despite its plus-size condition. I remember the runner's high, the triumph of finishing 50-mile bike rides, even if the last dozen or so miles practically destroyed me every time. I remember the satisfaction of putting on an item of clothing and thinking that it was verging on too big and would soon need to be put away, then given away. I remember being so tuned in to the practice of truly *loving* my body by my actions that choosing well was more or less my default position.
I am so far from that right now. It started with getting too busy moving from my apartment to my friends' home as well as planning a wedding for as much bike riding. In 2012, I killed it on the bike - more than 1,000 miles. In 2013, it was far fewer miles. I don't think I've yet ridden 100 miles in 2014, and here we are halfway through the year.
It continued with the adjustment to being married. There was G's awful work schedule with his former employer, and the 8 PM bedtime that was forced on us by that schedule. It was a lot more of a struggle, but I was battling through, changing my times for running and continually reminding myself about the things I've learned about food, even as more and more often I went into automatic mode and just ate whatever I felt like eating. Not AS MUCH as I'd have eaten in the old days...but still, the wrong stuff, and too much of it.
The major blow was 4 or so months ago, when my arthritis cranked into overdrive. In the past, I would have a flare-up from time to time, and it might last a day or maybe up to a couple of weeks. No big deal. I'd take some time to rest, and then start up again as soon as possible with the running. This flare is not like this. This flare goes on and on, relentless. I have tried to go out and at least WALK in the mornings with G; most often, I am fighting tears from the pain in my feet by the time we get home. So I haven't tried it MUCH. This is not because I'm afraid of the pain - DUDE - I can push through pain - but because the podiatrist was very clear, back when she diagnosed my arthritis, that I was to listen to that pain and respond with rest, ice, and ibuprofen. She spoke of the possible need for surgery in the future, and heaven knows I am not excited about surgical solutions for arthritis. It seems to me that would be like surgical solutions for carpal tunnel - a temporary fix, sure to be undone by returning to the original activity that caused it in the first place. So I've tried to take her advice seriously.
The not running is a major deal. The being too tied up with moving and the gardens and the everyday business of life to get back to a lot of bike riding is also a major deal. Both are sabotaging me. I suppose it sounds like I am making excuses, and maybe I am - except for this: I REALLY, REALLY WANT to get back to running and riding. I miss both. I am homesick for how good both make me feel. And I am tired of how I feel in this State of Very Little Exercise.
I've been trying to remedy the arthritis via supplements of every sort, all of which come with strong recommendations from folks whom I either know well, or whose reputation I trust - people who say things like, "When I use this, I have no pain." I am using almost all of them. None are taking away my pain. I take tart cherry juice tablets with breakfast every morning, along with glucosamine. I stir diatomaceous earth into my half-cup of juice every morning and drink it down. I am taking a substantial daily dose of Vitamin D, and also a tablet that is calcium, magnesium, and zinc. The pain is constant enough these days that I now automatically add a couple of Ibuprofen tablets to the pile of supplements in the morning, and take a couple at bedtime, and sometimes I take a couple more at midday. Some days that helps a bit. Some days it doesn't touch the pain. Another friend recently recommended spirulina, and I'll be picking that up next paycheck to see if it helps. It gets hard to hope, though.
Awhile back at a family get-together, an aunt was talking a lot about eating gluten free. I was kind of saying, "blah, blah, blah" inside of my head, trying to block it, because I truly did not want to try eating gluten free, and to my knowledge, I do not suffer from Celiac Disease. The little "mini tests" one can take online to see if they might be celiac all say that I am not. And I didn't want to try it as a weight-loss strategy, simply because I do know how to eat in a way that lets me lose weight - I just have lost my grip on doing so for quite some time. So I was really doing my best not to tune into the idea of gluten-free. But then my aunt said something that caught my attention: though she is not celiac, when she goes gluten-free, her inflammation stops. Inflammation? She clarified: arthritis.
Well. I must say, I was not thrilled to hear this - but it definitely held my attention. If someone related to me by blood has a dietary solution that actually helps her, mightn't that mean that it could work for me? Still, I hate, hate, hate the notion of figuring out the whole gluten-free thing. So I spent a whole lot of time just considering it before I began to try to act on it.
I have been attempting gluten-free for maybe a couple of weeks now, but it has been a very haphazard attempt. First, we lacked the right groceries around the house, so I kept getting derailed by that. Then, I went to help put on a kids' camp, and there was all this amazing food with gluten there, and I didn't even try to fight my way through and live on salad all week. Since I got home last Friday, I bought better groceries and have been cooking better - but outside of home, lots of things continue to happen that make it difficult. And frequently I fail, when it is difficult.
My body image has taken a beating as I've put on weight. I was already really struggling with that for months, before I lived through the great Poison Oak or Ivy Hell. Having Prednisone swell me up like a balloon didn't help. The way the Prednisone sent me into eating overdrive didn't help. I put on a lot of weight in those 3 weeks that I was on that drug. In that time, I had dreams of being in social situations where it wasn't appropriate to keep eating...and I was eating, ashamed, eating, embarrassed, eating, eating, eating all manner of wonderful choices like donuts. So basically my body and my mind were both working against me, and I had lost my grip on all the cool tools I learned in the last 3 years of this journey.
When I went back to work while trying to recover from that rash, I was still swollen, plus the extra weight, and the rash had me choosing clothes only for comfort and not for appearance - so I looked even fatter in them. I was trying to not fall into a pit about that. One day I stepped into the hall in front of a couple of ladies who made a very disgusted noise as I stepped in front of them. As I walked along, they followed me, talking at what they surely imagined was a level I couldn't hear. Only I could hear. They talked about how awfully fat I was, and how fat others at work were, and how all of us fat folk need to figure out how calories work. They talked in modulated, knowing, quiet tones, and I wished that it was true that I couldn't hear them. That was a hard hit, and to be honest, I still don't know quite how to recover from it. I still hear it a lot in my head, especially when I'm at work, where I no longer have any desire to spend time in any hall, basically ever. I am back to feeling the way I did before this whole journey of letting God teach me to love my body - back to feeling like I owe the world an apology for subjecting them to looking at me - where I really wish people just wouldn't look at me at all. I hate this place. And I'm not good at eating well in this place - I'm way too handy at seeking the comfort of food numbness. Gross.
So I've been seeking the Lord about it, and He's been talking to me, and I think I'm probably only open enough to fully receive a tiny fraction of what He's saying. I'm hearing enough that I'm starting to seriously choose better, food wise. That is step one of loving my body.
Of course there are no instant solutions. It will take a long, long time of doing what I ought to do before I'll be back anywhere even close to the nice fitness level I was at. I'm not sure what to do about the exercise part - my feet still hurt, of course. There must be time somewhere in my life that I can pick up with riding the bike more again...I just have to find it. I'm not yet sure how to find it.
This is a humbling place. I greatly prefer coming to the naked blog to tell you how awesome it feels to love my body well. I don't love my body well right now. I don't love my body at all right now.
But maybe I'm finally ready to get up and start fighting once again.