Love Your Body Day And Therapy Thursday

Today’s Happy Note: Willow Smith and her song “Whip My Hair”.  She uses her braids to fling paint.  Enough said.

I got in my nine miles this morning!  And they were really, really sucky.  It was just one of those runs that I needed to push through, and I did.  I did three miles at tempo pace in the first half.  I was supposed to do three fast 800s in the second half but there was no way that was going to happen.  Part of the problem was that I was inappropriately dressed.  I have running clothes for 55 degrees and higher and 40 degrees and lower.  I can never seem to dress appropriately for that 15 degree gap in between.  Ugh.  I really should invest in some long sleeve tech tees.

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments yesterday!  Every single one of them felt like a little gift in my inbox.  I talked through a lot of it with L today, which was nice.  I’ll share those thoughts at the end of the post.

First, in honor of yesterday’s National Love Your Body Day, I present you with 16 reasons why I love my body.  [FYI: there are many more reasons why I don’t love my body; I’m not perfect.  But I think that enumerating things my body does for me is not a futile exercise.  It does remind me of the good.]

  1. It’s super bendy!  I am seriously the most flexible adult ever.  I can do the splits and get into pretty much any yoga position.  I like this.
  2. My eyes are deep and dark and mysterious and nice.  I like how they fit under my eyebrows.
  3. I have really strong arms and can lift all kinds of things.
  4. My heart and lungs pulled me through my pulmonary emboli hospitalization this summer.  For that, I am eternally grateful to my body.
  5. I have nice hips for dancing.
  6. The skin on my hands is soft; I have good hand-holding hands.  USB tells me this.
  7. My spine and torso are very graceful — dancerly, I like to think
  8. In fact, I think I’m kind of good at dancing. I would love to be in a dance recital some day.  Is that weird?
  9. My feet take a beating through running, but they forgive me.  Thank you, feet.  You work damn hard.
  10. I have great hair.
  11. My body has let me climb mountains in Mexico, hike through cloud forests in Costa Rica, and run up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower.
  12. I scar really easily and have some really unique, beautiful scars.  My favorite is on my right kneecap.  I like how scars tell important stories.
  13. My hands!  Oh, how much hands do for us.  I mean, come on, opposable thumbs?  How awesome can our bodies be?!?!
  14. My senses.  I have wonderful eyesight and hearing.  My senses let me interact with the world and respond in my own way, through sensory writing.  My senses help me create poems and prose and essays.
  15. Ribs.  I like how they form a cage around my middle, protecting me.  My body has ways of protecting and defending itself.  That’s beautiful.
  16. We cannot forget my legs, obviously.  They have carried me through three half-marathons, two ultramarathons, countless long runs, and hopefully, a marathon (soon)!  They are strong and forceful.  Sometimes they just keep going even when I don’t tell them to — when my mind is too exhausted to function, my legs have a way of working, regardless.
I have much to be grateful for!  What are you grateful for, at this very moment, in terms fo your body and its amazing capabilities?
Therapy Thursday
I think I’ll keep my therapy thoughts brief today (haha, am I even capable of that?).  I don’t want to get into certain things.  We spent a while talking about my anxiety surrounding the timeliness of our session and then we talked about how I characterize myself as “lazy” and then about how I operate, socially (how I make friends, how there have been some very lonely periods in my life).  I told her about my first day at my second high school.  I was a junior.  It was August, 2005.  I cried, recounting it to her.  It broke my heart, looking back.  But I was also crying happy tears about it — I was stubborn (I had this really geeky yellow lunchbox that I refused to give up; I spent the whole lunch hour walking around the school by myself on that first day, desperately wanting a friend) and held tight to my beliefs and identity.  If that meant being alone, so be it.  I think that in some ways I am better at being alone now — I manage it; it isn’t always a lonely alone.  I will always be a person who needs her alone.  I need to be by myself, often for long stretches of time.  I can’t fathom spending time with friends every single day.  One of the things I like best about USB is that he doesn’t fear being alone — he relishes it.  He uses that time to unwind and rewire; it also means that we are comfortable not spending every single second together.  I think that’s healthy.
I used most of the second half of the session to talk about my weight/body/health problems.  For a pretty straightforward summary, see yesterday’s post. I liked that L was both tremendously compassionate and objective about it all.  I actually just got an appointment with an endocrinologist today.  We agreed that I will try that — and I will make a serious effort to try any diet variations or medications she recommends or have tests done — and move forward from there.   As I was outlining my health problems to L, she said something like “having a chronic illness is hard; it’s not fun.”  I looked up at her, started crying harder, and told her “I might be able to handle one, but having two is destroying me” — the clotting issue and the endocrine issue.  Her face softened and she just said, “I wish so much that I could make it go away.”   It was comforting.  She was comforting.
And that is the honest truth — I don’t know how much longer I can handle having both of these things.  It’s exhausting.  I don’t know what takes precedence over the other.  I am tired of scheduling follow up appointments and having my weekly blood draws and having heart echoes and breathing tests and living in terror that I’m clotting again.  Seven doctors is more than any healthy 20 year old should have to face.  It was actually kind of nice to just have that moment of complete breakdown and vulnerability with L this afternoon: I basically told her “I can’t do it.”  And she acknowledged that.  That was all I really needed out of today, I think.
I have to keep living one day at a time.  The next few months will be full of visits to specialists and blood tests and endless round of medication trial and error.  But in some sense, I’m already used to that.  I feel like I will feel less burdened when I at least know that we are doing things to try and figure it all out.  I like journeys. This feels like a journey to me.  I’m trying to stay positive.
Goodnight friends!  Happy Friday to you all!

Something Is Not Right

Today’s Happy Note: Catching up on most of my schoolwork.  Okay, so the actual act of doing the work isn’t “happy”, but having it done makes me happy.  So there.  I deem it worthy of a happy note. 🙂

Sorry to have disappeared on you friends!  I truly wish I could blog every night and it makes me sad that sometimes I have to hit the books instead. I have quite a lot of reading this semester, but not a lot of assignments.  This means that it is quite tempting to put off the reading, but then when the assignments come around, I would be screwed.

I know I have talked about priorities before (blah, can’t find the post), but I have been reorienting myself the past few days.  School already was a priority, but it needs to be even more of one.  I just kind of need to grit my teeth and get it done.  Meh.

Anyone else out there feeling mid-semester blues/overwhelmed?

I saw something fun on Angela’s Blog today!  Apparently, it is National Love Your Body day today.  I’ll get to that in a minute…

First, I have some training notes to catch you all up on!

1. Monday: I did an easy 25 minutes of weight lifting followed by my easy yoga class (it’s for school).  The instructor wears sweatpant booty shorts.  He is a man.  That is all.  My body was grateful for the easy day.

2. Tuesday: Was supposed to be nine miles of speedwork.  I really didn’t want to do it during the day and finally set out around six, planning to stay on the streets.  But it just didn’t feel right.  My body was moving in all the wrong ways — my lower legs seemed to be doing something completely different from my knees, which were doing something completely different from my quads.  You get the picture.  I listened to my body!  This is something that I have really struggled with in terms of exercising, so I was proud of myself.  I cut the run short and did four miles, with 5×100 strides in the last mile.

3. Wednesday: I figured I would just get in my nine miles today.  But.  Again, something wasn’t quite right.  Mostly, I was terribly tired.  I couldn’t seem to get out of bed in the morning or after my afternoon nap.  So I just did my easy yoga class. That was it.  Taking it this easy is hard for me!  I feel a lot of guilt.  But I know that taking the rest is a good idea.

I think there are three reasons why I struggle with guilt when I don’t workout hard everyday:

1. I tend to have an all-or-nothing mindset.  I feel like I’m either completely sedentary all day (in reality, this isn’t true) or insanely active.  I struggle to find an appropriate balance.

2. I overexercised at an unsustainable level for years — I think this is tied to the ways in which I was active as a child and adolescent.  From when I was four until I was fourteen, I was a gymnast.  The last few years of that, I would practice about 20 hours a week.  Then in high school, I did diving, track, and swimming (sometimes at the same time).  I would often be working out for hours a day — senior year, I swam for 3-5 hours a day during the fall season.  Thus, my expectations for physical activity were shaped unrealistically at a formative age, and thus it is truly difficult for me to understand that not working out that much is okay — normal people in the real world do not typically work out for more than two hours a day.  Even an hour is more than enough.  I think that, for me, mentally, moderate exercise is actually best.

3. I still feel the need to “make up for” everything I eat.  I probably eat slightly more than the average 20 year old female college student (although really I have no way of knowing this).  But I really am running a lot, and I also have a significant amount of muscle mass.  Regardless, I feel like if I don’t run 6+ miles a day, I am just another slovenly, greedy American who overeats and doesn’t move.

A few weeks ago, L pointed out to me that I would never say the things I say to myself (in my head) to another person. I would never, ever be that cruel to someone else.  So why do I do it to myself, over and over again? I don’t know.

I think this post is going in a slightly different direction that what I intended.  That’s okay though, since these are the things I need to talk about.  FYI: the rest of this post is about weight and related health concerns/body image issues. Please feel free to skip this part.

I typically weigh myself every 1-2 weeks.  Sometimes I go even longer, maybe every 3-4 weeks.  I am not obsessive about it and don’t record it or anything.

But.

I did weigh myself this Monday and a pattern clearly emerged. Or maybe the pattern has been there for a while but I just noticed it.  Whatever.  Thee point is simple: I have been gaining weight at a rate of almost exactly 1 pound per week since leaving the hospital.  It’s been just over three months, so approximately twelve weeks.  I have gained 12-14 pounds.  I was already a few pounds over my “happy weight”; I would estimate that I have about 17 pounds to lose at the moment.  This is very scary for me.  Very scary for me.

The reason it is so terrifying is that, as far as I can tell, it is something that is either largely or entirely out of my control. Something is wrong in my body.  I know my body and I know when something isn’t right.

Well, something isn’t right.  This weight doesn’t make sense.  I should not have gained 14 pounds since I left the hospital.  Not only have I been training for a marathon, but I have also been fairly careful to keep my eating in check.  I stopped taking birth control as soon as I was diagnosed with my pulmonary emboli. I am not a doctor (in fact, I pretty much suck at science in general), but to me, it seems like the birth control was doing something in my body that was good, and now that it has been taken away, something is going unchecked and rampant in me.

I saw the women’s health Nurse Practitioner at my school a few weeks ago (is it weird that there are a grand total of zero gynecologists for a college student/grad student population of like 30,000 students????).  I basically told her the same things I am telling you guys.  Something doesn’t make sense.  I want to know what is going on.  And, unlike many health conscious young people, I have no aversion whatsoever to medications.  I would happily take several medications, daily, if it would fix this.  I already take about four medications a day — I have several more types too.  I joke to people that I have my own pharmacy.  Taking pills really doesn’t bother me, nor do I feel like I’m somehow polluting my body. They’re pills. Scientists made them to help us, for the most part. It actually kind of bothers me when people get all purist and shit and say “oh, I don’t take pills, I don’t put chemicals in my body, I treat things naturally.”  Great — it’s really nice to know that you have never been burdened with serious medical conditions that require drugs.  I am so happy for you.

Okay, so that was completely tangential.  I’m a writer.  What can I say.  I like talking.

Getting back to the main storyline here.  The NP I saw referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist.  I called her office a week or two ago and she isn’t taking new patients until January.  I am not trying to wait that long, so I got a referral to someone else.  I will schedule the appointment tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will be in the next few weeks.  This is causing me a lot of anxiety, as you can tell.  I want to get to the bottom of it.  Fast.

Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t always work that way.  Our bodies don’t always work that way.  Sometimes they do not want to reveal their secrets, even when their secrets are hurting us.  I hate how medicine is simultaneously so scientific and so unpredictable.  Anyone else find this duality unsettling?

My guess is that, starting after the marathon, we are going to have to do some serious screwing around with my diet and medications.  Probably accompanied by some serious blood tests.  I may have a weird adrenal disorder.  I may have PCOS.  I may not have it.  I may have pre-diabetes.  I may have some bizarre hormonal problem.

So, things are complicated.  I know that’s a really lame conclusion, but it’s all I have for now.  And I need desperately to share my struggles.  Thank you for listening! 🙂

One other note: Any inquiry into/treatment of my hormonal/adrenal/endocrine problems is severely constrained by my history of PE and accompanying clotting disorder.  I cannot take any hormones.  I cannot take anything that might interfere with my Warfarin.  I cannot take anything that  might predispose me to further clotting.

I truly am sorry for unloading all of this on you guys.  But I just need to get it out there.  USB has been amazing about it all — I never would have thought a love interest would be interested in my bizarre medical problems.  Especially not when they make me fat.  But he listens to me and soothes me and tries to help me in whatever way he can.

So.  The Love Your Body post shall be saved for tomorrow, I think.

I’ll leave you with my latest purchase!  I’m going to be wearing these on marathon day!

Katie is giving away a massive amount of Artisana. I want it.  Bad.

Anyone out there, by any chance, happen to have a simultaneous history of PE and PCOS/unidentified endocrine disorder? I know it’s a long shot — I haven’t met anyone else with this combination of problems.  But if you have had similar experiences, I would be thrilled if you would let me know your story!

For everyone else, what is the most frustrating health experience you have had?

What are you grateful for about your health?

I’m grateful for my body’s tremendous ability to untangle its clots.  Seriously.  The clots are long gone by this point.

Grete’s Great Gallop/Mental Health Update

Today’s Happy Note: The sunshine on my skin in the afternoon.

Mental Health Note: I have been struggling a bit lately, I must admit.  I don’t necessarily feel sadder than usual — in fact, I feel more in control of my depression than I have since, well, before I was depressed (which was long, long ago — like middle school long ago).  It’s the body image stuff.  It’s miserable.  It’s painful.  It makes me want to die, in certain ways. I feel like I’m being taken back to a dark place in my life — say 2-4 years ago — where my body was never good enough.  Every single day was spent hating myself, because of my body.  Everyday.  I thought of so many ways to say “I hate you” that it isn’t even funny.  It wouldn’t even make a bad comedy routine.  It’s too sad.

So this moment finds me facing difficulties with my body and my weight, and, as a consequence, my mental well being.  The most frustrating thing about this anxiety and weight gain and hatred and queasiness — whatever you want to call it — is the fact that I know better than this. I know not to do this.  Not to work myself up into this state.

I guess that admitting how much I am struggling is a good first step.  Better than outright saying “alright, I’m a failure, I’ll just give up and let it all get worse.”

Also, I surprised myself and opened up to USB about it.  That was a big step for me, I think.  A really big step that I’m proud of.  And L, as always, has been there for me.  I think I sent her an email late last night and she responded today, a Saturday, with a long comforting response.  I guess I haven’t talked a lot about therapy/L lately, as things have become more and more private, I guess.  It’s a really beautiful feeling to know that someone is there for you 24/7, no matter what, when, where, why.  She’s there.  And I need her, very much, at this moment in my life.

Grete’s Great Gallop Race Report!

This morning was my third official half-marathon! Unlike my first two (read my recap of the NYC half here), I was not going into this one with the goal of running fast or PRing.  I had two goals:

1. Get into a “race mentality” — early wake-up, race breakfast, getting ready to run fast.

2. Run slightly under Marathon Goal Pace.

That’s it.  Plain and simple.  And I satisfied those two goals, which means that I am happy with the experience.

A few notes:

~I probably should have slept for more than 4.5 hours last night.  USB is such a wonderful, wonderful distraction though…I’ll be sure to get 8-10 hours of sleep before the marathon.

~I went out at a solid 10:00 pace and worked my way down to a 9:00 (overall average pace was 9:36).  This is good.  I would like to replicate this slower-to-faster strategy on marathon day (although probably being a bit slower overall).

~I think GU Shot Blox are my favorite mid-run fuel.  I had to take a clif mojo bar today which wasn’t ideal.  I also need to figure out my ideal method of carrying fuel or water.

~It’s time to get new shoes!

~If I can run a half marathon in 2:05:50 at the end of a 57-mile week, with relative ease, I most definitely can run a marathon, while tapered and well-rested and properly-fueled, under my goal pace of 4:30!

So today was an experiment of sorts.  A happy, succesful experiment.  I’m pleased.

Oh, and USB took me to get a foot massage afterwards.  I can’t really explain what I feel for him.  But just know that it’s a lot.  I feel a lot.

Tell me about your weekends thus far?!?!  Any races? Long runs?  Non-running related exciting happenings?

What do you do when you feel like you’re in a mental health rut — like you’re slipping and you want to be able to get a better hold of things but you don’t know how?

Goodnight friends!

Therapy Thursday

Today’s Happy Note: Owls.  Something about fall just makes me think of owls.  I doubt there are any in NYC.  They are such beautiful, intriguing creatures.  I wish, right now, that I could be in a cool, wet forest, camping out, watching owls fly overhead.  That would be nice.

Sometimes I love New York and sometimes I desperately want to leave.  It’s a strange mecca, really.  I have fallen in love with the city over and over and over again and I am not sure I will ever be able to leave — the sounds and lights and people and neighborhoods.  The buildings.  The way the architecture seems to merge with the humans flawlessly.  But there is a small part of me that is a small-town girl.  Or even a rural girl.  I love meadows, streams, forests, mountains; scrambling over rocks in National Parks, kayaking down long windy rivers, climbing big old willow trees in a huge backyard, rambling endlessly on dirt roads surrounded by corn fields.  And owls, of course! I like all that.  I just want to have that and New York.  And it scares me, because I don’t think that it’s possible.

Are you a country girl?  City girl?  Wilderness girl?  Suburban girl? Or boy.  I might have some male readers, I suppose.

For the first time in a long time today I did nothing, really, exercise-wise.  And it felt damn good. I walked around campus all day, of course, and did about 10 minutes of yoga to stretch out a bit.  I have been really exhausted lately. This tends to happen when I am stressed/making a life transition.  I think it may also be tied to whatever is happening with my body, hormonally or otherwise.  Sick Caronae=Tired Caronae.

I don’t think I was being lazy by not running or working out today.  I genuinely listened to my body, which is harder to do than it sounds.  I love running, but I also think that it tends to make me a little bit out of touch with my body.  I can never figure out my hunger cues when I am running a lot.  So no run today.  I am still running five days a week, with some yoga and strength training thrown in there.  I think that is perfectly acceptable for now. 🙂  NYC Marathon, here I come!

I have a confession: I have a vision of myself breaking up with running, one day.  Not necessarily soon, but it is something I have known will happen for a while now.  Maybe in a few years.  After a few more marathons and ultras. Maybe even sooner than that, or maybe later.  Maybe after I have babies.  Maybe I’ll stop for several years and then come back to it.  I have amazing natural endurance — in fact, I would argue that that is my only real physical talent — but I also have arthritis, sciatica, weak joints, a problem in my sacrum, and frequent generalized muscular/skeletal/nerve pain.  Right now running is working for me, but barely. I love when Heather talks about this because I relate so well.

Anyways.  Just some rambling.

Therapy Thursday

First: do you know how long I have waited to have my appointment with L be on Thursdays just so that I could write “Therapy Thursday”?  I love alliteration.  I am such a geek.

Second: This post is a little bit emotional, a little bit heavy and difficult and painful.  I won’t be afraid if you don’t want to read it.  Sometimes when I am sad, reading about someone else’s sadness only makes it worse — if you’re like that, I highly recommend skipping. 🙂

Last night’s blog post was in the back of my mind for the whole session.  I didn’t talk explicitly about it, but talked about those issues — weight, body image, health, self-hatred, self-esteem, the essence of me. It is sort of strange, but I feel like the whole last year with L (it’s officially been a year, this week) has been leading up to this point, where I feel comfortable sharing the deepest, darkest secrets I have about myself, all of which have to do with the body.  I do have other deep, dark secrets, but I think I have mostly already shared those things with her.  The body is the hardest thing, because it is entirely real.  It is not a ghost or a memory or a scar.  It is not something that happened to me when I was six or an ephemeral feeling.  It is not something that goes unspoken, like love or growth or opening myself up.  It sits right in front of me.  It is me.  Always.

It’s strange, I suppose, because it (the body — my body) is so obvious and cerebral, but also so subtle and hidden and emotional.  There are some moments when I feel like my relationship with my own body is incredibly straightforward — like there are signs plastered across my stomach or words scrawled on my arms.  But most times, I don’t even understand the relationship.  I get confused — I eat when I am not hungry or don’t eat when I am hungry. I tell myself I am lovely and I have dark, reflective, mysterious eyes.  I tell myself that my stomach and hips and thighs are so big that I should take a carving knife to them.  I have not tried this, but it has been a horrible fantasy of mine for many years.

Tonight, for example.  I almost didn’t eat dinner.  I wanted a piece of pizza or a half of a giant burrito, with chicken.  But I didn’t have any of those things.  I had a salad, which ended up being really good, but it wasn’t what I wanted.   It was the lower calorie version of what I wanted.  I almost didn’t eat at all. I did not listen. Or I did listen, but it was to the mean part of me that has “you are fat and horrible and unworthy” on an endless repeat cycle in my head.

I can’t outline exactly how long I have had this struggle.  Let’s say six years.  Six years into this and I still hate myself so much?  I still struggle to eat a meal sometimes.  Or to stop eating sometimes.  Obviously, the intensity of these feelings has been triggered by recent events.  I have never handled stresses well — I feel things so deeply that it hurts every part of my being.  When something is upsetting, every tiny crack in my body will be upset.

Today, with L, was about all of this.  I am not really sure how to characterize her responses, both verbal and non-verbal.  I can definitely say that they were comforting.  She was comforting.  At one point, I felt like she was looking at me like a mother — that shook me, more than anything else.  It made me realize just how much she cares about me, and how much I care about her.  Strange things happen in a psychotherapy relationship.  I wish I could say that I wasn’t too attached, that it was completely clinical.  But that is not the case — I’m long past that point, and there is no turning back, for good or for bad.  She continually reminds me that there is something wonderful and engaging and warm about me that has nothing to do with my body. I just don’t know what that is exactly, yet.

L and I agreed that we don’t know where the hatred comes from, and that I feel better on days when it is not there.  I can’t tell you how many windows and mirrors and bottles I find my reflection in.  More than should be allowed. Sometimes I wish the world could be devoid of these things.  I want to scream at the makers of bus shelters, “don’t you know there are girls walking by who want more than anything not to see themselves; don’t you know that this one moment — this reflection in the glass — is the most horrible moment of their lives, and it happens a thousand times a day; don’t you know?”

Hurt is human.  L reminds me of this, a lot.  It makes me feel less alien.  We all have our demons.  I happen to have more than many people, and  I also think I feel them more.  But everyone has them.  There are so many things we don’t know about the people we walk by on the street, or even the people we work with or have class with.

The agony surrounding my body and my physical self is not helpful: the hours every day I spend hating myself actually do not make me happier. In fact, they suck away my time and my energy.  What a revelation!  L was telling me how, when I finally accept myself exactly as I am, the agony will go away.  And I know she is right.  I think that maybe it might be in the process of going away — this process started a year and a half ago, in February of 2009, when I left school (don’t worry, I came back).  It’s painful.  It’s not like I can just say “okay agony and hatred — be gone, I’m done with you!”  It helps to say that, sometimes (like in yesterday’s post), but it doesn’t necessarily make it true.  I guess I don’t understand why the process can’t be faster.

Sometimes when I write about therapy, afterwards, it sounds like L wasn’t there or involved at all.  That is not the case, ever.  She is very involved — she probably talks at least 30% of the time, which I like.  It’s such a wonderful combination of helping me see things differently, listening, and sharing her own experiences. Sometimes I can’t remember what it is that she said.  Usually I just know that it made sense and made me feel better.  I guess that my own narrative kind of takes up most of the space in my head, which is okay, as long as I’m being honest with myself.  There are, of course, stories that we tell ourselves, which are not always accurate reflections of reality.

For example, I tell myself that I am basically unlovable.  But I know this not to be true.  My friends and family love me, I can feel it and hear it and sense it.  And on another level, romantically, USB is attracted to me.  He wants to be with me. For someone who hardly wants to be with herself most of the time, this is a large does of cognitive dissonance. I like USB so much that it hurts, and I think he likes me back similarly.  So I can’t be completely unlovable, completely horrible.  USB is making me so happy that I cry about it, sometimes.  Slow, big, quiet tears.

I think things have been a bit heavy on the blog lately.  With reason, of course, seeing as this is me and this is how I am feeling — I began the blog on the premise of honesty regarding my mental/emotional and physical health.  I try to keep things real in both areas.  But with that said, I also don’t mean to overwhelm you with all these darker things at once.

I promise a lighter, cheerier post tomorrow!  Involving delicious foods. 🙂

Thanks for staying with me here; this is simultaneously a very exciting and happy and scary and dark moment in my life.

Medical Stuff, Part II, Or “A Slightly Happier Post”

Today’s Happy Note: Perfect fall temperatures!  I’m in love.  The air is warm but also crisp, snappy but gentle.

Marathon Training: We had our first actual “class” of yoga today (I am taking Iyengar Yoga as a P.E. class).  We did not do much at all — it is very, very basic.  We spent the whole hour practicing standing with our feet spread apart and then doing Warrior II, Triangle, and Extended Side Angle.  We finished with some easy bridges.  I wouldn’t call it a workout, but it was a decent stretch that got my hips opening up.  I did about 15 more minutes of stretching and abs afterwards, followed by an easy four mile run.

I didn’t feel awful on the run, but my left hip and hamstring were hurting.  Again.  I really don’t know what to do since it is so inconsistent.  I think that stretching it out a lot helps a bit.  I am praying that it is not present tomorrow for my hill run — running up hills with a hip/hamstring issue is especially hard.  I was supposed to do 6×100 strides at the end of today’s run but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I made a lame attempt at doing two of them before realizing that my body just was not having any sort of speediness.  It was probably the slowest run I have done in a long time; maybe 12-ish minute miles?  The funny thing about this is that I didn’t judge myself for it.  I just acknowledged that I was tired, my body/mind were a little off-kilter, and I was slowly but steadily ambling along.  Just like that, I didn’t care.  I’m proud of myself for that!

In other running-related news: I am ravenous. I am trying really hard to photograph everything because it is VERY useful for me to mentally keep track.  I did well today minus several handfuls (about two servings) of TJs cat cookies, aka animal crackers for grown-ups.

I made an awesome fall feast for dinner!

We have half of a steamed delicata squash smothered in cinnamon, a pile of baked tofu (coated in TJ’s peanut vinaigrette, maple syrup, and ginger) and roasted carrots and okra (coated in EVOO, salt, and pepper).  This is pretty much fall seasonal eating perfection. It was a pretty tasty (and easy!) meal.  Yum.

Medical Stuff, Part II

So.  Yesterday I talked about science and medicine and my body and how the intersections thereof can be a little bit inexplicable.  Read that here. Thank you for all of your kind comments/emails!  It is heartening to know I am not the only person in the world who has these subtle-but-also-overwhelming problems.

Today I kind of want to look at the issue(s) from a psychological/mental health standpoint.

I have always equated being overweight with moral failure.  I never accepted the fact that, for some individuals, there might be other factors at play.  Until it happened to me.

Here I am, 10-15 pounds too heavy.  For me, losing a pound is an uphill battle.  Fought with medieval instruments.  While blindfolded.  And standing on my head.  Okay, you get the picture — it is harder than it should be.  Once my body acquires a pound, that pound is not going to leave without a serious fight. Usually, I just end up psychically wounded and the pound(s) stay(s).

I am so tremendously tired of this.  But here’s the thing: I accept that there are processes happening in my body right now that are beyond my control. Even if there were factors totally within my control (for example, if I were doing serious emotional eating — I’m not, but you get the point), it doesn’t matter: the point is that this emotional battle with my body, at this moment in time, needs to end.

I think that within a few months, possibly after I get things sorted out with endocrinology and gynecology, or after the marathon, my body just might settle back into its natural happy weight on its own (for me this happens to be between 145-155 pounds; I have a medium-sized frame and a fair amount of muscle).

The most important thing for me, in this moment, has nothing to do with science or medicine or numbers of pounds or calories.  It has to do with stopping the judgement and the self-hatred.  Being overweight (ever so slightly) is not a moral failure for me, or for anyone else.  I believe that different people actually have different sizes at which they are healthy.  For me, this size happens to be at the upper end of “normal.”  For some, this might be a bit above “normal.” L was telling me last week how the BMI scale isn’t necessarily considered perfectly accurate or all-encompasing anymore anyways.  I would venture to guess that I am more healthy than a woman who eats mostly processed foods and sits on the couch all day but is at a “normal” weight.  I run ultramarathons, for Christ’s sake.

Kate wrote a lovely post today that really resonated with me, about disordered eating and body-consciousness.  Unfortunately, for many women, these are all-consuming things.  That has certainly been the case for me.  I am not sure I understand why.  Do I think that I will be a more perfect woman if I weigh 145 pounds versus 165 pounds?  Will I become more caring, compassionate, creative, prolific, loving?  I would hazard to guess that the answer is an emphatic “no.”  I am Caronae, no matter what I weigh.  I have an essence beyond my body.  Kate said the following, in describing the hatred, the disordered eating, the obsession that happens to so many women in our society:

“If you don’t understand, it can’t be explained to you.”

So perfect.  So true.  It’s like a club — a club that, sadly, most women are members of.

That was so hard for me to say.  That there is something about me that has nothing to do with my body.  Think about all the things I could be accomplishing if all my physical concerns went away.  I’m going to say it again.

There is something about me, something uniquely Caronae-ish, that has nothing to do with my body, whatever my weight may be. I accept the chaos that is happening inside and outside of me right now.  I accept the stress, the confusing medication regimen, the grueling running schedule, my way of eating, my fucked-up homrones.  I accept all of that.  I accept it because I know that I am something more than that. I might not be exactly sure what this “essence of Caronae” is, but I know, in my heart that it exists.  That she exists.

Medical Stuff, Part I

Today’s Happy Note: My run started out terribly and then miraculously turned wonderful!  Love when that happens.

I had 11 miles of speedwork on the schedule, which I was not looking forward to.  It consisted of:

2 miles warmup @ GP (goal pace=10:00/mile)

3×2 miles @ tempo pace (9:00 miles) with four minute easy jog between each

3 miles cooldown @ GP

My body felt so swollen (more about that later in the post) during the first two miles that I thought I was going to have to call it quits.  I was tight everywhere and could literally feel water weight all over my body.  It’s a strange feeling.  I am not sure if it has to do with my period/hormones, but I think it does.  I haven’t had a period in almost two months and I can tell that my body feels weird not having cleansed itself — something is up.

But the tempo repeats ended up feeling great.  I sometimes wish I had a garmin, only for speed workouts really, though.  I am guessing they were between 8:30-9:00 per mile pace.

Yesterday we just had an orientation for the yoga class, so I did not get to do any yoga, sadly.  I did lift weights for 40 minutes though, and my arms felt dead afterwards (in a good way!)

Medical Talk

A bit of background: I was diagnosed with PCOS 3.5 years ago.  Most women with PCOS are overweight and do not have periods.  This was not the case for me, so for a long time, no one could figure out what was wrong.  When I was diagnosed, by a very clever gynecologist who works with my mother, I was put on birth control.  Over the years I have been on yaz, yasmin, and, most recently, ocella.  My PCOS seemed to be under control with the BC.  I reached a roughly stable weight and maintained within a five pound range up until this summer.

In July, I was hospitalized with multiple massive pulmonary emboli in the main arteries of each of my lungs.  I was hospitalized for three days.  Here I am in my hospital room:

Part I of the hospital stay can be found here.

Part II here.

Hormonal birth control (or any other hormonal treatment) can serve as a risk factor for clotting (pulmonary embolism means clotting that occurs in the lungs, which is very dangerous because it can cause you to stop breathing).  Once you have a blood clot of any sort, you can never take birth control or other hormones again, unless you’re on some sort of suicidal mission.  This has obvious implications for sex, but that’s not what I want to talk about.  The problem for me is that the birth control was controlling my PCOS.  Now that I have been off of it for two months, my body’s hormonal and endocrine systems (which are related) are going haywire.  Literally haywire.

I had a really long appointment with the women’s doctor yesterday.  She was extremely nice and helpful and seems like the first doctor who has ever really taken the time to figure out what might be at the root of my hormonal/endocrine problems.

For one thing, I am gaining weight uncontrollably.  I am eating only a little bit more than I was pre-hospitalization, only now I am training for a marathon.  I am running 40-50 miles a week, in addition to strength training twice a week and yoga twice a week.  I am an active, healthy young woman.  There is no logical reason for me to be gaining weight and not having a period, among other things.

Our bodies have many, many hormones, not just estrogen and progesterone and testosterone.  Two of these other hormones are known as LSH and FH.  I don’t know precisely what my levels of these homrones are (or even should be), but I do know that their ratio is 1:1.  This is very bad.  A normal woman has a 1:3 ratio and someone with PCOS has an even higher ratio (e.g, 1:5 or 1:6).  A ratio of 1:1 is typically only seen in anorexic women or over-exercisers.  I suppose marathon training could count as overexercising, but I think she was referring to thin over-exercisers who have lost so much body fat that it screws up their hormones.

Sigh.

The only conclusion at this point is that I might not have PCOS, but may have an adrenal or endocrine disorder. I will have to see a specialist in hopes of figuring out what exactly might be going on.  I know my body quite well, and it has never been more clear to me that something is awry.  It was subtle at first, but has gotten worse over the last few weeks.  I am worried, but I feel comforted by this latest doctor, who was extraordinarily thorough and compassionate.  She saw me for over an hour.

I may need to try a medication called Metformin, which would help my insulin resistance.  As far as I can tell, the only other non-hormonal treatment for PCOS is a low-carb diet.  Have you ever tried eating low-carb while running 40 plus miles per week?  Not fun.

I am scared and confused.  I want this to be over with.  I have a million other things to deal with right now.  I wish my body just worked the way it was supposed to.

In addition to all of that, I just found out that my INR (measure of the effectiveness of the anti-clotting medication) is only 1.5.  This is bad.  Very bad.  This means that I will have to gt my blood drawn every three days until we figure out what the correct dosage of the Coumadin should be.

So basically my life is really fun right now!  Okay, so that was a little bit sarcastic.  I do have many things that bring me joy though, and I am going to list them for two reasons.  First, because this post has been a total downer and second, because I need to cheer myself up a little bit.  Happy Caronae=Healthy Caronae!

Things that bring me joy right now:

Fresh fall apples

Baking on the weekends

Studying (aka not studying) with friends on weeknights, chatting, playing

USB (he is amazingly soothing and gentle)

My crazy professor (today I spent 75 minutes learning about how minute differences in wheat/barley vs. millett/sorghum/rice/teff cultivation changed the course of history — it literally is both fascinating and hilarious)

Blended grain “soups” (just had some for dessert with nut butter and dark chocolate, of course)

Crossword puzzles in the newspaper

Yoga

Fall breezes/temperature drops (it’s my favorite season!)

Cuddling with USB

Bubble Tea

Massages

Books of all sorts

See, I’m not all negativity right now.  Just mostly. 🙂  This post was actually originally intended to go in a completely different direction.  Therefore, I am deeming it Part I of a two part series.  The other part will happen tomorrow, and hopefully it will make a bit more sense where I’m coming from at that point.

Goodnight friends!

Adventure Saturday: Ocean, Body Image/Weight Concerns

Today’s Happy Note: Vitamin D overload.  Sunshine! 🙂

I ended up walking 5 or so miles yesterday; I also did a 20 minute yoga core download.  Today I did 3-4 miles walking, 2 miles running (on the beach!!!) and lots of playing in the water.

I had an awesome beach trip.  I always forget that Manhattan is so close to the ocean.  Twas lovely!

Confession: I felt so unbelievably, ridiculously fat in my swimsuit.  I wanted to hide in the changing rooms and cry.  I told my dad that I should not be allowed on the beach without a sign that said “whale.”

And then I hate myself for hating myself so much.  Oh, the irony.

The reality is that, between the GI illness and the hospitalization, I have gained about ten pounds.  I am not someone who could afford to gain ten pounds.  I’m pretty sure this makes me borderline overweight.   I don’t care so much about that label as feeling good and feeling confident.  I don’t feel either right now.  I feel enormous.

I am not necessarily mad at myself: I have hardly been able to workout in the last month, and I have been quite stressed.   I respond to stress by eating emotionally and gaining weight easily.  Seriously, I probably even gained weight when I had my GI thing and all I could eat for three or four days was the occasional piece of toast.

I played on the beach today for hours and ended up having a lot of fun; I dug my toes into the sand, ran up and down, jumped over the waves, swam through the waves, and bothered my sister (endlessly entertaining).  So I am not entirely focused on my body, but it is still there.  It’s this painful, nagging thing in the background.  It’s like something isn’t quite right, and my body knows this, physically and mentally.

The thing that works best for me is not obsessing, but not being lax either.  Counting calories, tracking meals, only “allowing” certain food: none of this works for me. This all creates more tension and anxiety and makes me more sad and I feel worse about my body and I end up eating more.  Funny how that cycle works.  But at least I can recognize it.  In fact, I think I do know what works: eating three wholesome meals a day (plus an afternoon snack and a small dessert), with lots of healthy fats, protein, and veggies, and not snacking in the evening.  It’s as simple as that.

Pretty straightforward.  That’s my plan.  I do intend to use the blog to keep myself accountable. Accountability is where I have failed in the past.  So I intend to do a tiny little check-in with myself when I post, mostly to note whether or not I have been mindlessly eating in the evenings.

Once in a while, I might share a full day of eats.  Like today, since I figured it would be a good idea to have a baseline image of how much I need in a day on an active day where I don’t overeat.

I am sorry if this upsets anyone: if you feel like this would not be a good idea for you to read about, PLEASE skip over it.  I would not want to hurt anyone, especially if you have a history of ED/disordered eating.

Breakfast was flax oatmeal (TJ’s brand) with part of a peach (would have used it all but parts were squishy and I hate that) and a giant scoop of AB.  One of my favorite breakfasts!

Lunch=giant salad with cucumbers, zuchinni, carrots, microwaved eggs, and avocado.

Afternoon snack — it was super melty since it had been at the beach with me all day and it was a hundred degrees!

A few bites of coleslaw and a giant Asian chicken salad for dinner (the size of my head).  You can’t see the chicken and other toppings, but I promise they’re there!

On the left is a peanut butter cup shake I had before going to a play with my dad and sister.  Right was my before blogging/bed snack of a small Godiva truffle.  I REFUSE to go without dessert.  Ever. Regardless of my weight.  I’m sure this is some kind of dieting sin.  But I don’t care.

So there you have it.  I do want to lost a bit of weight.  It’s very hard for me to find a balance between vigilance and obsession; I am aiming to use the blog to help me find a balance over the next few months (that won’t be the only thing on the blog though, don’t worry!).   Due to my body’s natural  (and rather unfortunate) chemistry/metabolism, I do need to have a certain vigilance.  It sounds bizarre, but if I am not careful and I gain weight now, I could screw over my fertility in the future.  Very random, I know.  But I want to be a mother more than anything in the world and so I am not going to take any chances with this.

Any thoughts?

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