In the past few years, my body image has faced a couple of heavy hitters. We have been trying to conceive for an estimated twenty-four cycles (not sure of the exact number) without a positive. I have endometriosis which leaves me fatigued and in pain on select days throughout the month. Now we are on the cusp of starting fertility treatments, and I've read that fertility medications can cause your weight to fluctuate, hair to change, stomach to swell, skin to break out. Holy shit, what else? My uterus might pop up and sing me a lullaby? To say the least, maintaining a positive body image is a constant battle.
I think it is common to have negative feelings toward your body when it has disappointed you in some way, shape or form. It is easy to get discouraged when you are trying month after month to do something that is supposed to just be a natural part of life, and it isn't happening. It has made me feel inadequate. It has made me angry. It has made my anxiety soar.
When I was first diagnosed with severe endometriosis, I was relieved to finally have an answer to my pain and misery. However, I was also upset. Why did I have to have this condition? I felt like writing my body a little note. "Dear body, F*CK YOU!"
I get good sleep. I don't smoke. I'm not overweight. I get adequate exercise. I shower daily. I do yoga.
If this is about the time that I didn't work out for weeks at a time or ate all that cheese or made some other bad bodily decision...look, I'm sorry. I repent. I bow down to you.
WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?
I struggle often to be okay with my reality. It doesn't always happen. I've been through a lot of rough patches, and continue to work on eradicating the bad feelings.
Here are some things that have helped...
(a) Consistent exercise (duh). Sweating helps me feel like I'm making a difference. Some days I consider a simple walk outside exercise. I've also found that muscle tone is the key to sexiness which is the key to actually liking how my body looks. Self-esteem booster! Modified push-ups are always a good place to start in the muscle department.
(b) Eating well (duh). This is always easier said than done. See part (c) below.
(c) Giving myself a break. I might not be able to do everything I want to do, but I'm still doing pretty good physically. Bad days are what they are; bad days. I try to remember that they are always followed by good days. One meal of junk and fat can always be followed by a healthy food decision. Give yourself a BREAK.
(d) Trying to remember that (as far as I know) there is still a good possibility that I will one day be pregnant.
(e) Not getting too far ahead of myself. Endometriosis is a chronic, long term condition. It may never go away. Getting too far ahead of myself causes paralyzing fear. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, baby steps, etc. Remembering to live by these mantras has never failed to calm my anxiety.
As women, we battle issues of body image every day for a variety of different reasons. What are your reasons? Have you overcome your issues or are you still dealing with them?