My apologies to my body.

21 Mar

I’ve touched briefly on my relationship with my body during this past year a bit in this post, but I haven’t discussed it at length. Come to think of it, unless we’re talking about our reproductive systems, it’s doesn’t seem to be talked about much in this community (because, honestly, I think we have more pressing issues we need to get out).  I’ve been thinking a lot about how this whole thing has effected me body-wise lately.  I tend to be going through a constant up and down with how I’m treating myself, and right now, I need to bring it to light so I can force myself to head back up.  So here it goes.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve taken pretty damn-good care of my body.  It’s something I’m quite proud of, actually.  I was a vegetarian for 16 years, and through that, I had to learn where I could get proper nutrition from non-animal sources.  This also kick-started my love of cooking.  Once I got sick of pasta and bread in the beginning, I had to start getting creative if I was going to do it healthfully and not get bored.  Then while I was living in Rhode Island, I met a raw foodist and he inspired me to try raw for a little bit and the result was few weeks of increased energy and a feeling of overall lightness.  Of course, if you’ve ever tried it, you know it’s a hell of a lot of work.  So time started outbalancing lightness and I bailed.  But it left quite an impression on me and made me re-think what I put in my body.  I was still vegetarian up until right before I got married 2 years ago when I started eating poultry again.  It happened after months of all of a sudden craving chicken, and I finally couldn’t keep denying what my body obviously needed.  I jumped back in and haven’t looked back since.  I still don’t eat red meat and honestly don’t believe I ever will (see here).  It doesn’t even dawn on me to eat fast food, and I rarely touch soda unless I’m going to a movie.  Now that I have said all of this, you should know I’m also far from perfect.  I have a sweet tooth like no other and chips are my nemesis.  I also really like bourbon, as well as the occasional beer.  And don’t even get me started on my love for pizza.  So yes, even though I’m a pretty healthy eater, I certainly have my downfalls.  And even with the years of healthy eating, I still don’t love how I look.  I just think that in this day and age where Americans are dying of heart disease and kids are being diagnosed with weight-related diabetes, it’s something I can be proud of.

So where am I going with this?  I swear I have a point, and here it is: over this past year and as a result of my losses, this default for me of healthy eating, has been challenged immensely.  I’ve had, unconsciously, a love-hate relationship with my body.  For obvious reasons, I felt like my body failed my baby.  It didn’t give it a safe place to thrive, and ended my pregnancies.  I wasn’t just disappointed in my body, I was pissed-off at it.  I felt like it betrayed me and I wanted nothing to do with it (good thing it’s so easy to escape your body!).  The weeks immediately following the losses, I couldn’t care less about what I was putting into my body, if anything.  If it weren’t for Tim, I probably would’ve survived just on bread and water.  I didn’t want to nourish the body that took my babies from me.  I felt it (I) didn’t deserve it.  Eventually I came around each time and knew that if I wanted to give pregnancy another shot, I’d need to start treating my body a little better.  I would start taking my vitamins again and eating my greens.  I give up my beloved coffee and quit drinking.  But even now, 9 months after my last loss, I still find myself going through periods of hating what my body did to me*.    These past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed I’ve started not caring again about how I’m treating my body.  For me, it’s always a sign that something’s not right with my emotions and I’ve started getting angry at it again for still being empty, a year-and-a-half after this journey started.   Somewhere in my delusional part of my mind, I think punishing my body will give me my babies back.  Fortunately, I come to my senses and know that’s ridiculous.  So I know I’ll come back around, especially now that I’m admitting it out loud.  But it has been a difficult month for me, and I’m sure that has everything to do with it.  The difficult stuff is starting to turn around, and that’s usually when I give myself a break body-wise.  I know I’ll jump back on track.  It’s in my nature at this point to eat healthy, I know I’m fortunate for that.  So I’ll get there.

But I’m wondering what your experience has been like.  If you’ve had losses or are struggling with infertility, were or are you angry at your body in a similar manner?  Have you caught yourself retaliating against it through your diet?  Could you, like me, really go for a cupcake right now?

*Intellectually, I know my body was doing what it needed to do, and intellectually, I don’t blame my body.  But subconsciously, I can’t seem to let it completely off the hook.  With the help of my therapist, I’m working on it.

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11 Responses to “My apologies to my body.”

  1. Elphaba March 21, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    Oh, I’ve totally gone through this. Over the last year, I’ve eaten and eaten and it’s resulted in my being the heaviest I’ve ever been. I guess I never looked at it in the way you’re explaining, but it makes sense. My body betrayed me and therefore, I’ve betrayed it.

  2. mommyodyssey March 21, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Does it surprise you to find out I’m the same way?
    Though I’m far from being a vegetarian. I admit, I love me some steak.
    But – and this is something I discovered only after starting my anti-depressants – food is a total go-to weapon of self-destruction for me. When I’m not depressed my default is to eat healthy, and not eat very much.
    The problem was I was depressed for so long, I just kind of forgot about that and got really fat.
    Ahh well, working on it.
    I’m so sorry you had a crappy month. But hey, at least you got some yummy vegan cupcakes out of it, right? right? (yeah. That was lame).
    *hugs!*

  3. Christina March 21, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    Absolutely been there. The week I spend miscarrying, I ate nothing but comforting, junky food, when and if I did eat. I drank almost an entire bottle of wine the day it started. No vitamins or supplements. I felt like I had to punish my body for what it did, even though it was just doing what it should. I still give it a slap on the knuckles each and every time I get my period.

    Oh and I could go for a cupcake anytime! Sweets and chips are my kryponite too!

  4. Hope March 21, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I totally hear you on the hating my body thing. I absolutely felt betrayed by my body with each miscarriage. But I have to deal with somewhat different food challenges. Like you, I was vegetarian, and I had to start eating poultry because of Insulin Resistance. That’s been hard, but not impossible. The real kicker has been the way the metformin I’m on affects my appetite and makes me nauseous. It’s really hard to eat healthy when I’m on medication that makes me gag unexpectedly. I’m supposed to eat a low carb, high protein, but the only things that consistently appeal to me right now (being on metformin and all) are high carb, low protein. Ugh!

  5. Lisa March 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    You’re obviously not alone in feeling this way about your body, as the other commenters have also confirmed. I think that many of us, whether we can’t conceive or have conceived and miscarried, have felt our bodies have betrayed our trust in them. I know that I felt really shocked at first that my body wouldn’t do what I wanted and expected it would do when I was ready. Then, I felt there was something wrong with me; my body was dysfunctional. It didn’t work the way a woman’s body was meant to work. And it failed the babies I lost. I too have punished my body through yo-yo dieting.

    I had a revelation while listening to a fertility expert here in the UK, who explained that humans are actually incredibly inefficient at conceiving. The way he told it, it seemed amazing that as many babies are born as there are. So many different functions have to co-exist for it to happen. You aren’t alone.

    I do believe in a mind-body connection, and think that positivity impacts upon our hormones and the neurological messages to the ovaries. It helps keep stress levels low and allows us to relax more, sleep better and reduce cravings and impulses to overeat. I hope that you can give your body a break and achieve some peace.

    Lisa (ICLW #112)
    P.S. There’s still time to register for the free Fertility Focus Telesummit which starts today and runs all week. Go to http://yourgreatlife.typepad.com to register. I’m speaking in a few hours on creating effective support networks while trying to conceive, but there are also talks by 11 other fertility experts.

    I had a revelation listening to a talk

  6. Marie March 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Here we go…

    My instinct is not to eat healthy. My instinct, often, is not to eat at all. I don’t realize I’m hungry until my blood sugar is ridiculously low and I’m shaking and grumpy. Most foods rarely sound good to me (which may also be why I don’t cook); I’m the kind of person who will eat what’s put in front of her but rarely seeks out nourishment herself. I can usually agree (with myself) on anything sweet – which makes fruit a good compromise if I’m trying to be healthy (I LOVE blackberries); I occasionally crave peanut butter, which lets me know I’m lacking protein, but for the most part… Yeah, if you put it in front of me, I’ll eat it. Which means I’m horrible at appetizer stations, because I will literally stand there and eat enough appetizers to make up a meal.

    I do feel like my body betrayed me when I had my miscarriage, but don’t know if that’s connected to my weird food things. What I can say is that depression and other stupid emotions ARE. I retreat more and more into ‘cupcake mode’ when I’m upset.

    The upside, I guess, is that when I’m down and food stops sounding good altogether, coffee and alcohol stop sounding good, too.

    • bodegabliss March 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

      I guess! Except, when you’re down, alcohol sure can help drown things. In a very unhealthy way. 🙂

  7. grace March 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    happy ICLW! i just wrote a blog that was very similar to this. i’m kind of grappling with the same issues. it sucks that miscarriage robs you of so much of yourself and not just (just?!) your baby. it takes away so much of your fundamental body confidence. you start feeling like you don’t deserve to enjoy your food or feel sexual. i’m just starting to take off the 15 (15!) pounds i gained after my loss. i was basically on an all carb diet and could care less about what i put in my body. nourishment was the farthest thing from my mind.

    anyway, i’m so sorry for your loss and i totally understand what you’re going through. great blog, btw 🙂

  8. C March 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    What fabulous timing for this to be your post on the first day of ICLW as I search for new blogs. I’m a lot like you on the nutrition-nazi front (except I eat red meat – but only wild game or pastured beef), and I’ve always been an athlete. I’ve had five miscarriages. And a failed IVF. Throughout the first three miscarriages I was durn good about keeping to my uber-health-nut ways. I started backsliding after number four. I have REALLY backslid after the failed IVF and m/c #5. I too am angry at my body. I too have been exacting “vengeance” upon it for me having treated it so well all these years and it failing at its most basic task. I too understand on an intellectual level that this is absurd.

    And yet.

    I just got back from vacation, and no one should watch what they eat in Europe. (Also, I was skiing, so that cancels the cheese fondue, yes?) And it’s go time. I need to get back to it, so I feel better, so I look better, so I can stop hating my body for its shortcomings. But it.is.so.hard.

    ICLW #47

  9. bodegabliss March 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Thanks, ladies. I’m glad I’m not the only one…but still, maybe we should make a collective decision to start being nicer to our bodies from now one? Sound good?

  10. Esperanza March 22, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    I realized suddenly that I never responded to this. Yesterday I was a bit out of sorts and instead of being stoked to see all the posts in my reader I just felt overwhelmed.

    I just wanted to say that I totally understand what you mean about feeling distrustful of your body after your miscarriages. I especially felt that way after my ectopic, as it was actually my body that botched the job. If my stupid fallopean tube hadn’t gotten the poor thing stuck it probably would have been fine. Instead I was in a life threatening position and had to take (what results to) poison to “resolve” it. It was horrible and I was furious with my body for it. Just furious.

    The painful side effects of the poison didn’t make me like it any better. Now I’m in a weird place with my body. After treating it like a temple for the year of TTC (plus three months before that), my pregnancy and during breastfeeding I’m realizing it’s mine, all mine, again. And that is strange. I can eat and drink what I want, when I want and I don’t have to worry about how it effects anyone but me. This should make me happy, but instead I just see a sad body I don’t even recognize anymore. I wonder if I’ll ever think it looks good without qualifying that thought with a reminder of what it’s accomplished. Like, oh, you look okay (for having had a baby). We’ll see. I’m also trying to decide what is important to me in this space between breastfeeding and trying again, as far as nourishment goes. Do I want to start indulging in Diet Cokes again? Do I want to drink beer every weekend? I’m not sure. I have been eating for a purpose for so long now, I don’t know how I want to eat when the purpose is just to get me through the day (and hopefully shed a few pounds). It’s disorienting.

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