Thursday, July 29, 2010

Body Image

I realized after writing that last post that I (still) have a terrible body image. But now, instead of just focusing on my physical appearance, I also have difficulty with the ways in which it seems my body has betrayed me. Infertility is just one of those ways, to judge from my last entry.

I think I had a good body image in high school - helped by the fact that I was thin, could pretty much wear anything I wanted, and that my body would do anything I asked of it. That changed when I got to college - I still remember stepping on the scale after my freshman year, and finding out that I had gained the freshman 23, fueled by lack of exercise, big chocolate chip cookies, Snackwells "fat free" cookies (yes, but not calorie free, you dumbass), and ... did I mention the big chocolate chip muffins? That wasn't a very pleasant realization. I have never managed to consistently keep my weight down from that point, although I do think I am in better shape now than I ever was in college. I did start exercising again consistently after that - not always at a high intensity, but I was at least doing *something*. My body and I settled into a kind of detente.

When I worked nights, I didn't gain much weight, despite a not-so-healthy lifestyle (eating out several times a week! an obsession with Diet Coke! eating lunch/dinner at 2 am!). When I worked on the West coast was when I really started exercising in earnest. I started running again. I started hiking. I started biking. Rollerblading. Walking. I never noticed a significant drop in weight, but I felt better. I did finally drop weight when I went to camp for geeks one summer, and exercised twice a day - running in the morning (usually 30 minutes) and then a 1 hour aerobics class in the evening. Insane? Maybe. But it was either that or go crazy from the amount of information I was trying to learn in 8 short weeks.

Since then, I have been a consistent and sometimes obsessive exerciser. It's gotten worse since my diagnosis of diabetes 2 years ago, because now I don't feel like I can even take a day off. I do one day of yoga/pilates a week, and even that is pushing it for me. And I usually make that the day I clean the bathrooms and take the dog for a long walk, so that I get a little bit more movement into my day.

I think I eat more healthily than I ever did 10 years ago. Scratch that - I *know* I eat more healthily. And still - I am the heaviest I have ever been. Easily 10 pounds heavier than I was after freshman year of college. I really could stand to lose 20 pounds - and yet, despite my healthy eating, and my near-daily exercise, I cannot make the scale budge.

I'm sure I'm eating more than I should - working at home has its drawbacks. But if I have to read one more magazine story about someone who lost 90 pounds by cutting out fried food (done that!) and walking 20 minutes a day (um, yeah), I might scream.

Now, with infertility, and diabetes, and asthma, and a possible heart murmur...I feel like my body is failing, slowly.

Infertility, in particular, blindsided me. Infertility, for me, meant that no matter what kind of effort I made in terms of taking care of my body, my body would not respond and do what it is *supposed* to do. What it is *biologically* supposed to do. Infertility meant that my body failed me, even when I gave it my best. I don't think I have failed at anything else that I meant to do in my life. And yet...I cannot have children (without significant intervention). Up until that diagnosis, I could do anything I put my mind to.

So now, my body image suffers. My external, physical body image, and my internal body image, as well. It's like my body is laughing at me - no! I won't lose weight, no matter how far you run. No! I won't get pregnant, no matter how well you take care of me, or how much you want it. And so, most days, even though my body pretty much does what I ask of it, still, most days I hate my body. The inside and the outside.

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