For the past two years I have been fighting with my body. And failing pretty miserably.
It wasn’t always like this. I used to be body confident, not afraid to wear a swimsuit or even strip down to my skivvies on stage, so long as the script called for it. I exercised a lot, I ate healthy but also enjoyed my ice cream, and had a healthy sex life with my boyfriend-turned fiancée- turned husband. I cycled regularly every month since I was 13, although I had been on the pill and then the shot since I was 18.
Then my husband lost his job. And moved approximately 100 miles away to take a new one.
Then my favorite teacher died.
Then my little sister died.
On top of other home/school/work stress/family illnesses.
Let’s just say the shit truly hit the fan.
By the end of 2009, I was pretty sick and tired of not having control over anything. I felt tired. I felt powerless. I felt useless. So I decided to try and take better control of my health. Sadly it took the form of a crash diet and exercise plan.
It actually was a good diet and exercise plan, I just maxed out too much on both ends. Too few calories, too much exercise, on top of too little sleep and too much stress. But it worked. I lost 10 pounds in a month. And then gained it all back. And then lost it again. And then gained it all back, with some to spare. Then lost some. Then gained some more. Slowly, slowly creeping up until I was eventually 25 lbs heavier than my original weight goal, and 15 lbs heavier than I had been my entire adult life. I knew some of it was a reaction to my stress, my loss, my lack of control. I was literally stuffing my grief down with delicious baked brie and raisins, home-made granola, and curry. Hey, when I emotionally eat, I only eat the best – well, unless there’s some Corn Chex around. I love those. Eventually, I was able to work through the grief eating, but still kept gaining.
On top of this, I stopped taking birth control, since my husband and I eventually wanted to have kids and figured after 10 years it would be good to give my body a break. So I went off, and didn’t bleed. At all. I took pregnancy tests. Nothing. I went to an Ob-Gyn. Several, in fact. One told me to not freak out, it had only been four months (Excuse me, four months?! Not freak out after four months?! What?!) One gave me progesterone to try and initiate a period. I bled, but then nothing. And more nothing. All of them just shrugged their shoulders in a half “not sure” and one half “don’t worry about it, you’re not ‘old’ yet.” One sent me to an endocrinologist, who at least seemed more positive than the others about finding an answer. Instead, after spending several hundred dollars on procedures our insurance didn’t cover, she also gave me a “not sure” answer, and managed to determine my husband’s sperm weren’t ideal either, and suggested we spend several thousand dollars instead. Fantastic. Thanks but no thanks.
As of summer 2011, my body and I were not getting along. All of this also put a toll on my marriage; by now we were living together again, but very, very unhappy with each other.
Finally, manipulative bitch that she is, my body finally decided to throw me a bone.
I bled. On my own. No progesterone, no $10,000 procedure, no punch to the ovaries. I just suddenly started bleeding. It was glorious.
And then she waited two months to do it again.
Then a month.
Then another month.
I was on a roll!
At the same time, after trying a number of different diet plans – restrictive calorie, non-restrictive calorie, dairy-free, Paleo, sugar-free, wheat-free – the gluten-free strategy seemed to work best for my body. I stopped gaining weight. My mood was more stable. I even started losing weight, especially when I made a conscious effort to not overdue it on the baked brie.
But giving up gluten didn’t work best for me. While it worked for my body, for me it meant giving up, or significantly altering, some of the dearest foods and memories for me – Christmas cookies, cupcakes, thin crust pizza, sandwiches, gyros, hazelnut-filled croissants, donuts, boxed macaroni and cheese, breaded shrimp, breaded anything. Having to read every soy sauce, stew, and even ice-cream label. Not eating ice cream out of a waffle cone. Not sharing in a friend’s joy at making her first moist chocolate cake. Not grabbing a slice of heavenly spiced pumpkin bread smeared with tart plum jam while I suffered through an interminable, very heated meeting. I live in a city that is very tuned in to the gluten-sensitive issue, and these days it seems like going gluten-free is the new cool thing to do. But I hated it. I rebelled. I still struggle. But eventually I conceded to my body, and she in turn rewarded me with better health.
So it seemed like we were getting along. Right?
Only now, I haven’t gotten my period. It’s Day 37, and I haven’t gotten my period. I took a pregnancy test this morning, and it came back negative. Which means, unless there is a little zygote in there that doesn’t give off HCG hormones, my body is fucking with me again. I have been following all of her rules. I haven’t been eating gluten. I haven’t been taking hormones. I have been exercising. I recently got a new job that has reduced my stress levels by an immeasurable amount. My husband and I are doing wonderfully right now.
So seriously, what the fuck, body? I know you and I are really one and the same, but your mixed signals and overall lack of communication is really starting to get to me. I thought we had an understanding; I treat you right, you treat me right. So what have I done wrong? Nothing. And you giving me the silent treatment is reaaaallllly not helping the situation. Give me some sort of clue here, a sign, anything!
*For all of you out there possibly offended by my use of the term bitch: when I use the term, I do not use it to refer to an uppity woman who is confident and stands her ground and demands that proper respect and authority be paid to her. I am referring to the kind of individual, man or woman, who is emotionally manipulative deliberately to control someone or make them feel bad, the “mean girl” type we all ran into in middle school, the kind of “mean girl” who never grew out of it and still behaving like an insecure, queen bee middle-schooler at 30 years old. THAT kind of bitch.