Disclaimer: This is a personal post primarily for females to adjust the perception of fragility.
Female hormones can be a tornado, yet healthy food and exercise can stabilize the extremes. Hormones are especially an enemy for women when we are on birth control where the foreign hormones blend with natural hormones in such a way that we precisely do not even know how we feel. Being a woman already means internal pain due to all the wonders around menstrual cycle and the weeks around that. Besides the natural miserable status, why would a woman choose voluntary discomfort in fitness? When discomfort is a choice, when it is a door to a goal, it becomes empowering. When this choice expresses mental strength, the physical “growth pain” makes us feel like we aren’t victims in our bodies for a moment in time. We have overcome what we can’t change to reach a result that we wanted. Fitness creates roots of self-confidence, self-value, and health that can counter balance the negative wave of contraception hormones hell. Although hormones are unpredictable, the occurrence of feelings should not be silenced. Sport has given me the ability to listen to my inner voice that I wouldn’t have listened to in the past. Below I share why this was profound to my safety.
I use a 5-year hormone IUD (Mirena) which has been the best contraceptive out of many that I’ve used because the body thinks you’re pregnant already. The device itself is hardly noticeable, no pain even with my active life, and can be removed anytime I decide. The hormones are mild and steady. Although I do not get a menstrual cycle, my mind and body still goes through the hormones of a menstrual cycle. (You’ll appreciate: 21 women describe what a period feels like)
Last month, I got my IUD replaced with another 5-years. I learned to trust my instincts that day, and for that, I’m grateful. I drove myself there because I had a busy day ahead of me. If I had rushed to drive afterwards, I would not be writing this today. It turns out that the procedure doesn’t require sedation, just bravery and stomach heat packs for cramping. It was the first time I replaced it; I asked if I needed to give my body time to recover and was reassured that the swap on the same visit is common. HOWEVER… now I know that MY body is sensitive after being “pregnant” for 5 years. Removing the Mirena shocked my body as if I had an abortion. I then replaced it with a new Mirena with fresh new hormones. I did not feel the uterus/hormone screaming shock right away, I walked out of the appointment to my car a few minutes later. I decided to go for a walk to get fresh air, instead of drive over to my next errand right away. I strolled to a nearby smoothie place, ordered and before I could pay, which was barely 10 minutes from the appointment, a powerful thick wave of dizziness and fatigue swept over my entire body and I immediately fainted out cold. I wake up at the floor of this smoothie place with employees all over me, and I just ask, “where’s my wallet?” (typical Philly girl reaction ha!) I get up on my own, walk over to sit down, and I sit there shaking, dizzy, hot flashes for over 30-minutes. I. COULD’VE. BEEN. ON. THE. FREEWAY! I sat with that thought, and just prayed being thankful for the gut feeling to give myself a moment. Thankful that I listened to myself, and didn’t shrug off my need to pause my day. I apologized to my body for the shock, for taking the “baby” and adding new hormone “baby” like if I were a vending machine. I sat there thankful I was alive to learn this lesson, and my car hadn’t hurt anyone else either.
Humility is knowing your limitations and when you need to rest. In the last month I’ve been getting used to the new fresh hormone. Fainting is the scariest thing, I’ve been resting and hoping that it doesn’t happen again. For the past around 2 years, in a previous job, I would drive to work and sit for 10 hours, which made running in the morning refreshing. I have since started a new job lifestyle which means I’m commuting by bike round-trip 8 miles. Now, running 6-8 miles in the morning then spiritedly biking 8 miles and working in a standing job everyday is exhausting! I reduced my run miles in the morning, and less frequently to slowly build my weekday endurance. This took humility because I know what mileage it takes for the races coming up. Race times aren’t more valuable to me than keeping a balance with health AND recovery. Something drastic happened in my body, and the most important thing is to listen to it. I’m the one losing if I ignore the signs and pleas if my body isn’t ready. In order to keep my “planned” mileage, I then would be too exhausted to be a wife, daughter or an active Jehovah’s Witness in my community. Fitness is a method to build up and motivate, not enslave me.
Healing your body, and also your heart to silence the voices of discouragement. There’s too much self discovery and growth analysis dialogue in my mind to pay attention to negative voices. The monthly menstrual reminder that we are fragile, should remind us of how strong we are at every other minute of life. After the first month of the new lifestyle, I have ran a few times a week, and biked to work everyday. I am finally feeling like myself and my hormones have become steady again instead of feeling like bursts of hyper, despair, famine, exhaustion, etc sporadically. On the weekends, I push my endurance in calculated spurts and am making sure to stay hydrated and eating well.
I decided to share this very personal situation because I am the first one to wear myself down and let my tank become empty. Needing time for yourself is not a weakness, it is a way to value your feelings and needs until you are ready again. Make that time, and listen when your heart begs for one. Listening could just as well save your life, like it did mine.