If there is one thing that we, as females, need to talk about more, it is how stress (mental, physical, emotional) affects our fertility. It is somewhat of a silent epidemic that many women simply brush off as something they will deal with if and when they want children. Please, learn from my experience, don't wait until it might be too late.
It has been one year since I wrote my post about putting on weight to restore my fertility. It has been three years since I lost my period due to under-eating, over-exercising, medication and being a stressed-out, maniacal perfectionist trying to do everything all at once. It has been an interesting 30-year journey of progressing from someone who was constantly pushing and trying to change her body to meet some unrealistic ideal, to someone who actually loves the skin she is in. And I am not just saying that. For the first time in my life, I actually really love my body.
Here are my before and after shots, both with less-than-perfect hair, but that's beside the point:
On the left, you will see "Check out my eight-pack, you think I'm healthy and fit, but I am infertile and my bones are weak" Kate. I showed this to a friend the other day and she said "Oh wow! What were you training for?" Nothing. I was training for my illusive "dream body." Pfft.
On the right, you will see "Check out my boobs, I look healthy and feminine and my internal state reflects this" Kate.
OK, so aside from having a fuller bust, what is so great about my new body? Many things, in fact:
- I have unbelievable energy. I used to have to take regular naps throughout the day just to make it through. Now, I can soldier through, completely sans-caffeine. Funny what happens when you start to look after yourself
- The whites of my eyes are crystal clear, as opposed to constantly bloodshot with blurred vision
- My skin is clear and wrinkle-free. Previously, it would look kind of dry and lacklustre
- My nails are thick and strong. For the first time in my life, my nails are not snapping off as soon as a little bit of white appears
- My gray hairs have disappeared. Now this one I find quite odd, and did not think it possible. I used to have quite a few gray hairs, which my hairdresser kindly pointed out to me. Those grays -- all gone! Bizarre, right?
- My cycle is getting back on track. Thank God, because that's the whole reason I headed down this road. It's not perfect -- about 35-40 day cycles, but compared to the nothingness of about nine months ago, this is a pretty significant improvement
- I can do crazy yoga tricks. Seriously -- handstands and backbends and all sorts of awesome stuff. I am loving it! I would never have gone down the yoga path if I wasn't forced to sort out my stress and pull back on chronic cardio
- I am so much more in tune with my body now. I listen to how it feels and I respond with understanding and respect, rather than saying "Harden up! It'll be worth it," because more often than not, it won't be worth it
- My hubby thinks I am sexy and tells me this all the time. I asked if he preferred me the way I used to be and he answered "Honestly, you were almost too skinny for me." Interesting. I find the male response to this whole thing very intriguing
- I am now in the position to be a positive role model for other females, both young and old. My previous body was unrealistic and unattainable for most. It took a lot of hard training and strict eating and wasn't even healthy. I was practically a male! No boobs, no period, no hips. Sounds pretty masculine to me!
So how did I do it? Well, it wasn't easy. I didn't just suddenly wake up and go "Hurrah! I am woman, hear me roar!" These are the things that were invaluable to my complete body image backflip:
- Support. Lots of it. From loved ones, and from you folks through the interwebs -- thank you!
- The knowledge that I might be helping others in a similar situation -- this was a massive driver! I truly hope I can help others, even if it is just one person
- The realization that menstruation is a sign of fertility. Fertility is a sign of health. Body fat is needed for menstruation. Ergo some body fat is healthy.
- Self-love. I know this sounds really woo-woo, but it truly helped me understand the underlying thoughts I had about my body and how to change them
- Yoga. Yes, I am well and truly a hippy now. I even have crystals throughout my house. Candles too. Aside from being able to bend and balance my way into poses that I was once only dreamed of doing, yoga taught me how to focus on my body's ability, rather than it's aesthetics.
- The realization that those who really matter in your life really do not mind if you are a size 8 or a size 14
This is my body. In your eyes, it may not be perfect. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks (in fact, I had cellulite and stretch marks before putting on weight). I don't have abs. Or a thigh gap. But in my eyes, what I see and how I feel, for the first time in my life, I am completely and unashamedly happy. This is 100% me. I am not a replica of someone else, nor am I trying to be. I am confident and I am healthy, and I hope that I have sparked the desire in you to love, accept and appreciate your body exactly as it is. xx