My body has been doing a lot of different things lately, and while I don’t have anything that I would call coherent to say about them, this seems like as good a time as any to take stock.
Not eating gluten continues to treat me well. However, it seems like I’m getting increasingly sensitive to dairy. I had a cheeseburger today and got a dairy stomachache fairly soon thereafter; the amount of cheese on a burger used to be pretty benign for me. (I mean, hell, up until pretty recently milk was benign for me.) In order to figure out some of the vagaries of how dairy affects my body, I’m planning to do a one-month dairy elimination, and then start adding it back in. The interesting thing about doing dairy eliminations is that there are a lot of different parts to dairy, and you can do a whole lot of interesting experimentation with only adding back in parts of it. For instance, I’ll probably start by adding fat (butter) back in, then protein (whey), then carbs (lactose).
I’m hoping that having butter in my diet is not a big deal for me, not because butter is hugely important to me, but because it is really, really difficult to avoid butter in food that I don’t make myself. But we’ll see; the idea here is to figure out whether giving up the various dairy bits are worthwhile to my well being.
Also, it’s pretty clear that sugar is not great for my well-being, but it continues to be delicious. Interestingly, when I get adjusted to not eating it, I don’t miss it that much, but especially when travelling, it tends to creep back in.
Remember how I said that being gluten-free was good for me? Seriously. 8 months ago, I was wearing orthopedic shoes at all times, it was too painful to walk the dog, climbing was kind of awful for my feet, and my doctor suggested that I take a month off of exercise in order to help my plantar fasciitis improve. This week, I did yoga (barefoot) and went climbing on Sunday, rode my bike to work on Monday and Tuesday, lifted weights Monday and Today, and walked the dog this afternoon. I’m back at a level of activity that I feel really happy with, and my foot is not mad at me about it.
My knee started out better than my foot but has been slower to improve; it’s also the first thing to flare up if I eat gluten, and it really needs consistent exercise to stay happy. I wasn’t doing much with it during the last month due to all the travel I’ve been doing, and it’s a bit pissy with me right now. Still, I’ve got it back to where doing body-weight squats is ok again, so I should be able to start in on weighted squats again next week. Plus, I mean, I can ride my bike and climb stairs on it, so I don’t have much to complain about, except the occasional climbing move that my left knee just can’t hack.
Strength, Flexibility, etc.
I am mighty!
But seriously; I am not kidding you. These days I am doing the following weights for sets of 5: deadlifting 225 pounds, bench pressing 155, and squatting…175? Probably? (I’d be more familiar with that number if my knee hadn’t decided to get fussy with me. See above.) My trainer wants to set a goal for me to deadlift 300, squat 250, and bench press 200. Whee! Also I’ve climbed my first 5.10c, and I’m really close to being able to do a pullup. Strength wise, I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, with the possible exception of knee-intensive exercises.
I’ve also been focusing on flexibility, because I’ve discovered that in general my body is happier with me if I keep it limber. I’ve been particularly focusing on hip & shoulder flexibility, which, if you are a desk job type, are always tricky. That’s been going well, and I’m also pleased as several of the new yoga poses I can do. (I can do wheel pose! And crow pose! And bow pose!)
This is all fucking fantastic, and is contributing a lot to my current feelings of body happiness. It turns out that being strong is a really good thing for my self-image; I look in the mirror and, as much as my physical appearance, I see someone who can climb walls and pick up heavy things because it’s fun.
I continue to slowly lose mass. This continues to confuse me in a lot of ways. For instance, my inner 14-year-old anorexic really mad at me because I’m losing weight without really trying (read: suffering) and that is cheating. From a fat acceptance perspective, I feel weird about it, but also strangely vindicated about all the folks who ever told me ‘calories in calories out blah blah blah’. The parts of me that have been socially conditioned along with the rest of the culture are happy to be thinner. *shrugs* I still have a lot of feelings about it, but I’m getting used to that, I guess.
Another interesting effect is that I’m now more or less back at the weight I think of as my stable adult weight. (It was, in fact, my stable adult weight until right around the same time I started doing endurance biking and then eating lots and lots of wheat-based carbs to recoup the calories. Remember the gluten intolerant thing? Yah.) This is interesting in a couple of ways.
First, I’m starting to look at my body and not experience body dysmorphia quite so much, because it’s a body shape and size I’ve internalized. So I guess that’s one way to deal with dysmorphia. Also, a lot of clothes that haven’t fit me for a while are fitting me well again. It’s nice to have more shorts to wear, since it’s warm. On the flip side, a lot of clothes I’ve bought more recently are now too big on me; for instance, I need new bras, and I’ll need new jeans when it gets to be colder again. (I know culture tells me that I should be celebrating to be shrinking out of clothes, but in reality, it just means more not-fun shopping. Also, fuck that part of culture.) I’m also at a size where it’s easier to walk into a generic Store For Clothing and buy Clothes That Fit. Not jeans, obviously, because buying jeans should always be a trial for women, amirite? But it’s easier to buy shirts and dresses and stuff.
And independent of what size I am, it’s nice to be feeling at home in my body. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how my machine is currently operating. When I dress my body nicely, and people compliment me on how I look, I don’t feel the urge to check whether they’re crossing their fingers behind their backs. There’s a ton of baggage behind that one, I know, but independent of the baggage, it’s nice not to be dealing with it. (Ah, yes, here’s some of my privilege; I’ve missed it. Sigh.)
But seriously; body dysmorphia sucked; it’s nice to not have that one for a little while.
So! That was a lot of thoughts about my body! But, given how much it does for me, I think it deserves a fair amount of thought. Seriously, bodies are kind of incredible, if also very weird.
What about you? What’s your body up to? Or not up to? I want to know!