Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sometimes it takes a stranger

I’ve been going through a lot of things recently both emotionally and physically, but it wasn’t until today that I realized how hard I’ve been on myself. I’ve been treating myself like crap for something that’s beyond my control and I’ve had enough.

Earlier in the year (February to be exact) I gave up gluten. You can read about it here. I had been dealing with GI issues that I couldn’t put my finger on. I’d given up dairy, I’d tried giving up meat, and maybe I didn’t give myself enough time with either (a week or two) but the things that seemed to trigger bloating/gas/discomfort were glutinous: pastas, breads, crackers, etc. A light bulb went off and I made the decision to go gluten free.

I felt better after a few days. My migraines and constant headaches went away almost immediately. Then something crazy happened. I went nearly 4 months without a period. I took 3 pregnancy tests-all negative. Then I saw my Dr. where my blood results also showed negative. But I had gained about 5 pounds at this point with no period and no significant change to my diet (other than going GF.)

I was training for my half marathon and had already ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler so I scratched it up to being muscle. But I still didn’t have a period and my clothes started getting uncomfortably tight. I try not to listen to the scale but when the clothes start talking to me I know there’s a problem.

After a series of test, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal…it was explained that it was normal not to get a period for a while and that it will eventually work itself out. I was sent home thinking once I got my period I’d be OK. I had no idea what I was about to get slapped with.

Fast forward to June. I run a 17.75K race and my first half marathon 2 weeks later. I was very unhappy with my performance, but scratched it up to the heat and the hills. My body was struggling even after all of my training, and I was really not sure why. Again, I figured it was the change in temperature and the terrain that caused for my distress and kept on moving. My knees started bothering me again – something that hadn’t happened since I lost the weight. (I had lost 35 pounds – 20 pounds of which I had gained in college) An outfit I bought specifically to wear in Boston after the half marathon didn’t fit me as nicely as it did just a few weeks before. Something wasn’t right but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

Then about 3 weeks ago we had a friend in town. After work I ran home to change but when I tried to button my jeans, they just didn’t fit. I had a meltdown. I was miserable…the entire time we were out I barely spoke. I tried but I was so miserable and uncomfortable that all I wanted to do was climb in a hole with a pair of sweatpants on and sleep.

It was all downhill from there.

I had worked so hard at losing weight, put so much effort at eating well and taking care of myself and finally saw some results. I was working at being healthy and being fit, and focusing on my goal to beat my 1/2 marathon race time and eventually maybe start thinking about more serious races. But now, all those same things are showing adverse results. I’m eating well, exercising, taking care of myself and GAINING weight? What’s this all about?

Nothing fits me. I had to buy a few new shirts and luckily I kept my bigger clothes (as per the advice of my sister who told me to keep them for when I have a baby. She’s so smart.) How can this not bother me? It would be abnormal for it not to bother me wouldn’t it?

I went back to my Dr. on Tuesday. Since my last appointment 9 weeks ago I’ve gained another 8 pounds. What? Why is this? What the hell is going on? I’ve gained 14 pounds since February!?

She asked me a million more questions, took a ton of blood, and gave me some trial medications to try (probiotics, antacids, etc.) I go back on Saturday for more blood work and hopefully will have some results from Tuesday’s tests to discuss. I went this morning for a sonogram on my abdomen/gallbladder. They said everything looks normal. Just more frustration in my eyes.

I’ve spent the last 3 weeks miserable, looking at myself in the mirror wondering what I can do to get myself back to normal. Sucking in my stomach, tugging at my clothes, feeling like I have to explain myself to everyone about how terrible I look. I’ve walked around the mall thinking how I don’t have the money to buy more clothes one size bigger-and then wanting to cry at the fact that I have to. I have a wedding coming up in 2 weeks that I don’t want to go to because I feel like crap. I don’t want people to see me.

I went out to lunch with two friends (that I am so grateful for) and told them of my feelings (My feelings were hard to hide.) They were both really supportive and helpful in making me see that I was being hard on myself, but I was still feeling bad. I thought long and hard about their advice - trying to keep weight and my emotions separate - but I couldn't wrap my head around it, so I kept on moping.

But something changed when I watched Caitlin on the Today Show and read this.

What am I doing? Why am I letting myself get so upset about this? Sometimes things are beyond our control and we have to take a deep breath and push forward. I am beautiful, even at 15 pounds heavier. Does the weight or the size of my jeans make me different than I was 6 months ago? No, so why the hell am I getting so worked up about it?

Sometimes it takes a stranger to help you see the obvious.

Writing this post is making me realize how silly I’ve been acting. My friend Gina told me to embrace my new booty (even though I wanted to punch her for saying it) and that she didn’t even notice I gained the weight. She said all she noticed was that I wasn’t smiling as much as I usually do.

My co-workers noticed it too. They’ve all been asking what’s wrong and why I look so sad.

So today – today I’ve decided to make a change. My attitude about this does not have to be negative. I have to take this challenge one step at a time until I can figure out what the problem is and make a proper plan of attack. It’s not fair to those around me – or to me – to be anything else but myself.

I’ve been focusing on the wrong things. Instead of focusing on the weight I’ve gained this last 6 months, I should be focusing on what I’ve achieved: My first 10 mile race, many PRs including my fastest 5K time, and my first half marathon. These are things that I never thought I’d see myself doing. These are things that my weight did not have an effect on.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still frustrated. I need to figure out how to control my body and keep working with my doctor to figure out exactly what’s going on with me. If PCOS is really causing all of these symptoms, then I need to figure out exactly how to handle it. But right now, starting today, my attitude is not anger, its acceptance. I’m not letting myself be miserable anymore. Life is too short.

Thank you Caitlin and Jenna for reminding me.


  1. What a beautiful post :) I am sorry to hear that you have been struggling - but the decision to be 'kind' to yourself is certainly the right one :) Stay strong!

  2. No offense, but you ARE really hard on yourself!! I understand where you're coming from by having high expectations of yourself, but I've concluded that instead of making oneself feel bad if you don't live up to one of the high expectations you set for yourself, instead of cutting yourself down, applaud yourself for what you DID accomplish (usually it's something great to begin with). You have two things going on here 1) dealing with your inner voice talk and 2) coping w/ the symptoms of PCOS. Just know taht I've only met you once, and how I know you is more than just what you look like, but the personality, enthusiasm, and drive that are exhibited in the fine blog you write and emails we swap! You're a beaut!

  3. Oh chica! I teared up a little reading your post. I can so relate to your feelings. You have a good attitude though and you are one tough and beautiful woman . . . only good things will happen. Jess is right, you are really hard on yourself, but that's what makes you who you are, not one to settle. This is a little bump in the road, leave it in your dust : )

  4. I'm so sorry that you've been struggling lately. :( But I'm really happy to hear that you're not going to let it get in the way anymore. YOU are awesome!!