Defiant Athlete, Week 6

You’ll be happy to know that I still love the name defiant athlete and will not be changing it this week.

This week was a little tough for me. It had its ups and downs. Things are going to get a little TMI right about now, so feel free to skip ahead to the ten list.

I was on my period this week. You’d think after 25 years I’d have the hang of this thing by now, right? But yeah, not so much. It knocks me on my ass every single month. Since I was 14. Every month. Now, there is some good news. See, usually I get the flu for two days before my period. Like clock work. A two day flu, followed by five days of misery, every single month since the summer before the tenth grade. That’s a quarter of my life, yo. Suckage.

Turns out, the flu thing is tied to gluten. I’m not a doctor, and I can’t even get a doctor who will listen to me tell them that I have a gluten issue, so I don’t know what eating gluten has to do with my period. But I do know that this month, like every other month where I didn’t eat gluten for the weeks prior to my period, it snuck up on me. That doesn’t happen to me. Ever. My period arrives with flags waving and trumpets blaring and me feeling like the whole damned parade marched over my poor body. Except if I’m gluten-free.

Also the five days of misery are reduced to two, which I will take. But there are still those two days, and they still leave me feeling like a weird, dysfunctional creature for a while. My mother had similar periods to me, by the way, and when she was my age she had a hysterectomy and went on replacement hormones. She said that the surgery gave her back her life. Unfortunately, the hormones took it 8 or 9 years later when she got breast cancer and the they made it grow faster than the doctors could treat it. So, this period thing is a big deal to me. I really, really don’t want a hysterectomy. Ever.

Okay, this long and winding TMI story is basically to tell you that this week was a little up and down for me. While the week of doom was reduced to two days of the icky blahs, I still had some of the mental stuff that comes knocking every month. For some reason the only time I ever really feel fat and super uncomfortable in my own skin is when I’m on my period. The rest of the time, I know I’m fat, but I feel functional and healthy. I still had that discomfort in my skin thing this month, but it was less and for a shorter time. So that’s good.

All of this is to explain that I decided to take two days off of exercising this week. In a row. When I’d already taken one day earlier in the week. At first I was upset with myself. My inner Debbie Downer was all “what a fucking lard ass. Get out of your chair and go take a goddamn walk.”

No, really. That’s what she said.

But, since I wasn’t exercising, I was spending more times reading some pretty amazing things that some pretty amazing bloggers have to say about body acceptance and HAES. And I realized that, while food and diet get the bulk of the press regarding HAES, movement and exercise fits in as well. And learning to listen to my body and then honor what its telling me is a huge step in achieving the level of self-acceptance that I’m aiming for. It’s as important as removing the moral judgment from chocolate and cheese. It really is.

I’ve worked out 5 or 6 days a week for five weeks. This sixth week, I only worked out 4. And that isn’t good or bad. It just is. It’s morally neutral, just like I’d believe it was if anyone else on the planet Earth told me that they skipped two days of exercise.

Yeah. Learning to treat myself as well as I’d treat any stranger off the street is taking some time, but I’m getting there.

This week’s ten list:

1. I tallied 830 training points this week. This was super exciting, because Sally Edwards says that 800 to 1000 is the training load for someone aiming for a sprint triathlon.

2. I walked 2 miles once (outdoors) and 2.5 miles once (on a treadmill with hills) this week. This is the furthest I’ve walked in at least five years.

3. Today I walked for thirty minutes on the treadmill, on the hill setting, at 2.8 mph. This is the fastest I’ve been able to walk in weeks. My shins didn’t bother me at all!

4. I do feel a knotted muscle in my left butt cheek. (I am the queen of TMI tonight, right?) It doesn’t feel like a serious problem, just a tight muscle. I’m going to use my special softball-on-my-mattress trick to work it out tonight.

5. The softball-on-my-mattress trick involves placing a softball, or a baseball, between my body and my mattress and rolling gently over it on sore muscles to work out the knots. It works like a charm.

6. I have alternated pretty wildly this week between utter inspiration and almost crippling doubt. The inspiration is winning.

7. I’m worried that all this talk about athleticism is maybe making people who have mobility issues or other differences in ability feel like they’re left out of my enthusiasm or like I just don’t think they count as defiant athletes. I’m planning on writing about this in the upcoming week, because it’s a topic that means a lot to me.

8. I need a senior study project for my BFA, and I’m 90 percent sure that Defiant Athlete is it. I have huge ideas. Great big ones, I’m telling you. I’m so excited, it’s hard to contain myself sometimes.

9. I have decided I don’t like my exercise journal. I don’t like that I have to ignore that half of each day’s space is supposed to be used to record calories and fat grams. I’m seriously considering designing my own, which could then become part of my senior study. Something tiny, that I can bring with me to the gym without looking like I’m lugging my little black book around.

10. I’m curious about something. If I did design this little HAES-friendly Defiant Athlete journal, would you be interested in having one? My idea is maybe a little monthly 1/4-size 16 or 20 page ‘zine with pages in the back for recording your training and maybe some art/photographs/words in the front. Something worth holding on to. If something like this was cheap–like not much more than the cost of producing and shipping it (I’m thinking something like $2.50 per book delivered in the US and a little more internationally, but I have no idea what it would actually cost to produce. This is a price I’ve seen on other ‘zines though, so I’m assuming it can be done) would you want one? Theoretically, of course. I won’t hold you to it. If its something you’d consider, what would you like to see inside of it? Ideas?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Defiant Athlete, Week 6

  1. blessed

    oh, so cool! I have been thinking the same thing, that your writing about this topic has been so inspired that you should focus on this topic for some academic writing. You go girl!

    I don’t know what I would be interested in such a pamphlet, but love the idea! (I’m the kind of person who has to see things to know if they will work for me, which is not helpful to you at the moment–sorry!)

  2. Kate

    I’ve been reading your blog, but have never commented. I have a few things to say and take what you want and leave the rest.

    First, my period was all kinds of messed up for years and years and doctors said it was due to my weight, but turned out to be due to a thyroid issue. My numbers were never quite bad enough to be diagnosed hypothyroid until I was displaying severe symptoms of hypothyroidism and miracle of miracles one tiny pill resolved not only the thyroid symptoms, but my wacky, painful, awful periods. I know that’s really not on point, but it’s something I want everyone to know, that irregular periods can be tied to your thyroid and not your weight.

    Secondly, I find that when I’m working out regularly, my period is more pleasant than when I’m not, which is quite a good incentive for me.

    I have two thoughts regarding whether your blog is inclusive enough or too limiting because of your discussion of athleticism.
    1. You don’t owe it to anyone to make your blog universally inclusive. There is not a single blog anywhere that fits the needs of everyone.
    2. Secondly, even most everyone (this is where I’m potentially treading near dangerous ground) including people with mobility issues can do something to make themselves stronger or more athletic. And you are providing a methodology that is transferable to efforts that are either greater or lesser than yours specifically.

    Finally, I think an exercise journal that doesn’t include calorie counting is fantastic.

    • Kate…thank you so much for responding.

      I’ve had my thyroid checked many times, because I have every symptom of a low thyroid count–down to weird eyebrow hair loss. But my tests always show that my numbers are on the high side of normal. I’ve never been to a doctor who will look at the symptoms alone and not blame my fat. We’re moving from a teeny tiny town to a larger one (Carson City) this summer, and will hopefully have health insurance then. So I’m hoping with a larger medical community I can find the right doctor.

      I hope you’ll keep reading, and responding. Making friends is maybe the best reason to have a blog in the first place.

      What kind of exercise do you do? I stopped eating gluten and started exercising at the same time, so I’m not sure which it is. Although, my period has gotten better with giving up gluten in the past. So maybe it’s both.

      • Kate

        I never lost eyebrow hair, but I was losing handfuls of hair daily, I was always cold, my morning temp was like 94.9, and I had bouts of hypoglycemia. I was also tired and depressed, the whole kit and caboodle.

        I originally saw an endocrinologist and she said my test was normal and a couple of months later I decided I was just going to doctor shop until I found a doctor who would prescribe thyroid meds for me. I started with my primary care doctor with the full intent of telling him that I was going to doctor shop until someone treated me. The day I went to see him, the air conditioning was broken in the particular exam room I was assigned to, I was wearing long pants and a sweater and still shivering even though it was in the middle of summer and he treated me even though my numbers where still normal. In fact, he didn’t diagnose me with hypothyroidism because my numbers weren’t high enough, and he said he couldn’t, he said was euthyroid sick syndrome, but the treatment was the same. Since my original diagnoses, he has had to up the strength of my prescription several times, but I finally seem to be at a good level. I didn’t actually put together my period issues with my thyroid until I read something on Well Rounded Mama’s blog.

        Good luck finding a doctor when you move. Good luck also with the health insurance.

        As for exercise, my base exercise is the “Walking Away the Pounds” videos. The name SUCKS, but the workouts are pretty solid. I have some mental hangups with walking too far from my home and being unable to get home, so the videos let me push myself without the fear. When I get a good head of steam going, I’ll start branching out into weight training and yoga, but some form of aerobics is my go. And I love swimming in the summer, I could spend all day bouncing around the pool. I also recently ordered a Callenetics dvd, I used to do Callenetics when I was a teenager and liked it.

        I’m having trouble getting going again with exercise after having some pretty severe hip bursitis. I actually ended up getting a cortisone shot to relieve the pain and it’s made me a little gunshy, even though I know I have to just keep going and deal with the return of the injury if it happens.

      • My hair was falling out by the handfuls, too. Giving up gluten stopped that. It scared the piss out of me when it was happening, because my mom had a severe illness when I was about 10 where she ended up entirely paralyzed except for her eyes for three months. Her first symptom was her hair falling out. Scary. I’m always cold, too. I never, ever get a fever. When I take my temperature it’s usually in the 96 or 95.5 range. Interesting, I’ll keep in mind to tell the doctors that when I’m shopping for a sensible one.

        That’s interesting about the fear of being away from home too far. I have the same thing. I walk outdoors with my cell phone so I can call my husband if I go too far and can’t make it back. I also really dislike being away from home alone at night. I have no idea what that’s about, but it makes me nuts.

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