… I am my own worst enemy, and every now and then I kick the living sh!t outta me…
Not going to lie, I have had that song and this topic, in my head for weeks now. In fact, there are many drafts sitting on hand, having started this post more than a few times.
It’s one thing to talk in general terms about the insecurities we have as women, as humans, or to admit that you have “fat pants” that you wear on applicable days. Hell, I could easily sit face to face with you and admit that my middle name should be “yo-yo” for all the times in my life I have had to re-stock my closet with different sizes. What I struggle with is talking about how I see myself, truly… how I talk to myself… how despite all that, sometimes I get stuck in my own head and cannot motivate myself to do what I need to do to feel better. It is hard to admit that in this state of mind, I can easily justify making things worse by making poor food choices, which naturally leads to more guilt and self loathing. It is painful to tell you that at a certain point I can SEE what I am doing, I become very aware of it, and sometimes not even that is enough to snap out of it.
At a certain point, when I get really bad, I catch myself doing what I consider the worst stage of this little spiral – I start to use my disease as an excuse. That statement right there fills me with shame. You see, from day one of being diagnosed with Crohn’s, there is a specific characteristic of our “community”, of any chronic illness community at all really, that has always bothered me a great deal. That is the penchant for letting the disease we suffer from become us, and the tendency to let it become an excuse to do very little and be miserable, and in that moment, we let the disease win. In that moment, it has you. And when I let it, I am just as bad as the people that drive me crazy. When I was first diagnosed, I spent a lot of time on google, and I found a million forums and blogs about IBD, the majority of them full of negative comments about how miserable life is with a disease, all suffering, no bright spots. People would post asking for advice on how to handle some symptom or scenario and dozens of others would respond, eager at the chance to talk about their own bad experiences. What I am saying now is likely going to piss some folks off, but it doesn’t make it less true – but rarely, if ever, did I see anyone say “it will be ok” or “you will get through this”. Disappointment, frustration and sadness is all I feel when I see that. Yes, IBD makes life less than ideal, and I am well aware that I have had it relatively easy compared to many others, there is no denying there are bad times that are worth talking about. However, we do not speak enough about the good, and THAT is what I want to change by being honest with you. There are a ton of great days, there are little wins, little tips and tricks you pick up along the way that work for you – things you learn to adjust in your life. We need to share more of these things.
All that said, clearly, I do let the negative side envelope me from time to time as well. I try, however, to keep it inside. I might tell myself, in private, that I can’t make it to the gym today because my stomach hurts and I don’t want to get all the way there only to spend 30 minutes in the bathroom and then have no energy to workout. But I won’t say it out loud to anyone else. All this attitude does is work against me and I am hoping that by sharing this with you that I might find my self again too.
My true self is a loud mouthed, opinionated blonde who loves horror movies, music from the 90’s and really loves her little life. I am hilarious (clearly), extremely social and, as it turns out, fairly vain. I have always been insecure, I have just learned how to hide it a bit better as I got older. When I was a teenager, I was, by all standards, considered a fat kid. I was lazy, never considered the pros and cons of food choices and suffered for it – I was bullied for a long time. After I graduated high school, I dropped a bunch of weight and found a new confidence I had never had before, but I hadn’t really made any positive changes – needless to say, I entered a cycle of unhealthy yo-yo’ing – well into my 20’s I went up and down. Then, after being on Prednisone for a while, I hit my highest weight ever and swore I would never let that happen again. It took me until I was almost 30 to realise that I had to think about what I ate, for my overall health and weight, as well as get serious about activity.
Like many people, my relationship with the gym is kind of a love hate thing. However, now, in my 30’s, it is generally more love. I am in the best shape of my life, doing more than I ever have before – weight lifting has made some real changes, changes I can see and feel, the satisfaction of bumping up my weights because I am getting stronger is the best feeling. The challenge lies in getting over these bumps in the road where I let the negativity set in, and sometimes, it comes out of nowhere. When I am going to the gym 4 – 5 days a week, I feel confident and good, it’s amazing how my outlook on my own body can change over night after a good gym session. When I am at the gym, I am on top of the world – I have no problem with motivation once I am there, being surrounded by other like minded people helps me, and I will stay until I can’t lift my arms anymore or walking makes my legs shake. I’m good at it too – I know what I’m doing, my education ensured that, and while I realise I don’t look like those fitness folks on Instagram, I really do love it. When I get into a good cycle and am going consistently, I even start to become part of the regular crew of muscle heads in the free weight area and I love it. I can SEE changes, and while I still have some flaws and some things I don’t love about myself, in this upswing, I know I’m not training for a competition, only for myself, and I’m good. I walk with confidence and my head held high. When my pants don’t fit quit right, I’m able to easily understand it’s because I upped the weights on the squat rack, when my blouse won’t fit, it’s because my shoulders and arms are finally showing the results of hard work.
But… in an instant, I can drop off into a downswing. Lately, it’s a shake in my confidence that has got me down. You see, I was feeling great, just like I said, I was sure I was kicking some butt and doing well. Then I saw a bunch of pictures of myself over a few days I thought I looked great. Literally, on each of those days, I looked in the mirror and thought “you look good, nice job”. But the pictures showed a person I didn’t recognise, flaws I didn’t see in the mirror, and in that moment, I shut down. I’m sure my friends and family think I’m crazy – all adamant they don’t see what I do, but I can only think of one thing – is that REALLY what I look like? And just like that, I am looking in the mirror and seeing every single dimple, seeing rolls I didn’t see before, a double chin suddenly, and it’s all downhill from there. I know it’s not logical, if I really feel that way, what I should be doing is hitting the gym again, but instead, I retreat into my mind. And my mind is not very nice. So, that’s where I have been for the last few weeks, but I have to admit, even by writing this out, I feel a little better. In fact, I was planning a gym trip today, a slow ease back into things, but I am bed ridden instead with one hell of a chest/sinus infection – a little oops on my part for getting a Remicade dose when I had sign of acute infection (what I thought was just a cold, but a mistake on my part none the less). So, once this little set back works its way out of my system, I will begin my climb back up out of this hump and into the light again.
It’s a funny thing, the logic that gets me here, but I am working really hard to reduce the frequency of these swings to the negative, I can’t promise that it will never happen again, but I am working on it. That’s all I can do. I have already made some improvements, my eating habits have improved a great deal over the years, and while I’m not perfect (I LOVE me some pizza and the occasional late night DQ run), I do my best to make solid choices and follow the 80/20 rule. All I can do is go up, right? Thanks, again, for stopping by. Have a great weekend!