Rant 59 September 2010: I’m Not Old; I’m 37

September 7th, 2010  |  Published in 2010 rants, Stumpblog  |  54 Comments

In nearly four decades, it has never rained on my birthday. As I write this on Sept 4, 2010 (mark your calendars for next year — Mistress loves presents!), my 37th birthday, it is raining.

The only inevitability in natural systems is change.

bruised-feetI also write this with my right foot wrapped in an ice pack. Were I to unfurl this ice pack, I’d see bluish-tinted skin spanning the tips of my toes to my cuneiform bones, as if Vulcan blood pulsed in my veins. My left foot matches. I am wearing dusky sandals.

A few days ago, while warming up for a barbell complex with an empty 20 kg bar, I momentarily lost my focus and let the Olympic weightlifting bar — which spins in its sleeve — drip from my fingers and smash across both bare feet, crunching metatarsals and sesamoid bones between iron and hardwood platform like a potato chip panini.

There are two morals here.

First, don’t drop barbells on your feet.

Second, use heavier weights.

Had I warmed up with even a 0.5 lb plate on the bar, I could have thrown it from my full height and it still wouldn’t have scrunched my tootsies. Hell, had I been working the big-girl plates, I could have dropped it then dived underneath like a mechanic working on a car.

I offer penance to St. Mark Rippetoe, St. Dan John, St. Mike Burgener, et al.

At least this is how I choose to interpret the situation.

I’m lucky. Nothing seems broken. I remain unrepentant about doing most of my lifting in bare feet. After all, it took me 15 years to drop something on them. As Homer Simpson said regarding Krusty the Klown’s vow to spit in every 50th Krusty Burger, “I like those odds.”

As I hobble around, I meditate on the quality of life experienced by those who have not cared for nor appreciated their ability to move. Getting to the bathroom is an expedition (and it involves stairs — oh horror!). A revolving door provokes deep anxiety.

Lose the ability to move and you lose nearly everything. Barring unforeseen accident and/or disability, this is about 95% within our control.

Stay moving. We are like sharks who must keep swimming or die.

In other aging-related news, these days two things that are not doing much of anything — swimming or otherwise — are my ovaries. Yep, I’m effectively perimenopausal. And let me tell ya, it’s a helluva ride.

Let’s get some facts out of the way, because like me you may not have known that such a thing can occur to you in your 30s. (Menopause? That’s for people’s moms, right?)

Hormones are pulsatile, which means they’re typically released in little puffs and bursts, like tiny chemical farts. Some toot their teeny horns on a regular cycle, such as a day or a menstrual period. Others respond to stimuli such as light/dark, food, stress, etc.

As you age, your hormones may start blipping and blopping a bit more randomly. They may go up or down in a general average direction, but that’s average if you look at it over, say, a decade. From day to day, you could swing wildly between low, normal, and crazy-blast high.

This means that in your 30s, 40s — or even for a few unlucky folks, in your 20s — you could easily experience symptoms of hormone fluctuation as your estrogen and progesterone go wacky. And these symptoms may not correlate to a one-time blood test, which simply measures the level of hormones available at a single given moment, not over the course of time.

Thus, you might experience the following joyous events:

  • waking up in the middle of the night feeling like a steamed dumpling
  • puffing up like a balloon, especially in your lower belly
  • the sloshing sound of epic water retention
  • mood swings: crying jags, major anxiety, paranoia and apprehension, crabbiness, general psychosis
  • brain fog, trouble remembering stuff like what the hell is Brad’s wife’s name, what is the word for those orange things you eat, and oh by the way where the hell am I?
  • GI changes: digestive problems, bloating, new food intolerances
  • changes in your libido
  • headaches and migraines
  • the sudden appearance of a few extra pounds, again often around your  midsection
  • your boobs deflating and going south
  • heart palpitations and feeling like your skin is crawling with ants (apparently this is known as forMication, which is less fun than forNication, just FYI)
  • “phantom periods”: all the cramps, all the PMS, same monthly cycle, none of the red tide action (bonus: saves on Tampax!)

As with the unbroken foot, I’m lucky I didn’t suffer all of these things. But I sure was a crazy, bloated, crying, paranoid bitch for a while until I figured this out.

I’m fucking pissed.

I’m not pissed because my ovaries (or possibly something higher up the command chain) have decided to check out early. That’s their business. I always was a bit precocious anyway.

No, what I’m pissed about is this: Despite being a so-called “expert” in the field of women’s wellness, I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS. Nobody does. Nobody, that is, except the millions of women who are sweating, crying, bloating, and wondering WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON AND WHY IS MY BODY POSSESSED?

In 2006, my periods started going wacky, suddenly appearing every 2-3 weeks. This was accompanied by what seemed like hypothyroid symptoms. I felt like my skin was vibrating and my whole life was on fast-forward. I’d wake up at 4 am, eyeballs sproinging open like the guy in A Clockwork Orange, as if someone had dumped a bucket of cold water on me. (This, I learned later, was from an adrenaline rush to free up glucose once cortisol checked out of doing its regularly scheduled overnight job. Thanks, stress!)

Food turned to the proverbial ash in my mouth. My weight dropped to 104. I hadn’t been 104 since I had my wisdom teeth out and sucked Tylenol and chicken broth smoothies through a straw for two weeks. My sternal ribs looked like a rickety ladder. The only thing I miss about this time was that my pullups kicked ass.

I visited my doctor. Everything seemed normal. She shrugged, unconcerned about the sudden exuberance of my cycles. “Frisky ovaries,” she said.

I imagined my ovaries like Mexican jumping beans, doing an acrobatic, tap-dancing version of La Cucaracha on my uterus.

Fast forward to 2009.  I am sitting in a new doctor’s office, no longer underweight — indeed, feeling rather like a PMSing walrus — wondering why my periods have, after their initial spate of Rockette kicks, suddenly gone MIA. The new doctor, thankfully one who actually gives a shit about things like actual medical diagnoses, says three words: premature ovarian failure.

She looks at me with gentle eyes. I can see her figuratively reaching for some kind of caring informational brochure like So, Your Ovaries Are Lazy Skanks.

“So…” she says, “this means you cannot have children.”

“Really?” I say, with great excitement. I am, in fact, thrilled at this bit of news.

“Yes… umm…” she continues, soldiering on bravely with her shpiel, “many women find this somewhat traumatic…”

“No,” I squeal, “this is fantastic!”

“…and so, we recommend counselling to deal with the — what?

I pump a high five. “Now my mother will finally get off my case about not having children!”

Doctor wrinkles eyebrows. Writes me a prescription for estrogen cream.

I finally fill this prescription in summer 2010. My pharmacist is one of those middle-aged Eastern European battleaxes that you find in bra shops, the kind that barge into the changeroom, flinging aside your flimsy privacy curtain, to grab your tits and pronounce judgement on them. She squints at me over her half-moon glasses on the gold chain. Her voice is approximately 130 decibels.

Her: IS THIS PRESCRIPTION FOR YOU?

Me: Yes.

Her: THIS IS ESTROGEN.

Me: Yes, I know.

Her: WHY ARE YOU GETTING THIS?

Me: Because I need it.

Her: WHY DO YOU NEED THIS ESTROGEN? PLEASE SPEAK INTO THE MICROPHONE AND LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE BRIGHT BLARING SPOTLIGHT.

Me: I apparently don’t make enough of my own.

Her: YOU ARE TOO YOUNG FOR THIS.

Me: No shit.

Her: THE VAGINAL APPLICATOR IS IN THE BAG. NOTICE I SAID VAGINAL APPLICATOR. NOW EVERYONE WILL LOOK AT YOU AND FEEL ACUTELY AWARE THAT NOT ONLY DO YOU HAVE A VAGINA, YOU INTEND TO PUT SOME MEDICINE INTO IT.  I AM ALSO MAKING A JUDGING FROWNY FACE AT YOU AND YOUR VAGINA. YOU’RE LUCKY I DIDN’T GRAB YOUR TITS. HAVE A NICE DAY.

Me: *grabs bag, runs away, desperately grateful not to suffer scrotal acne or explosive hemorrhoids*

Over the years, working with clients, I have come across many women who are also pissed. Except in their case, they’re pissed because their bodies let them down. Mean bodies! Lazy bodies! Stupid bodies!

“I can’t believe I ended up with Type 2 diabetes,” says one, usually a diehard couch potato type. Really? You pumped sugar into your body for five straight decades and you’re mystified?

“My body is letting me down,” says another, usually a type-A ultramarathoner CEO type, whose body is merely a sniveling hunk of meat to be tamed. Really? You live a high-stress life, don’t sleep, work 100 hours a week, hammer the bejeezus out of yourself with ever more stringent physical abuse, and when you aren’t complaining about what a lazy ass your body is, you’re telling it what a piece of shit it is… and your body is letting YOU down?

“I hate my body,” says a third. Who even cares who this one is, because it’s approximately 600 million of you. Well guess what, your body probably hates you back for years of loathing.

Actually, no, although you probably deserve your body’s hatred, it doesn’t. Because that’s the thing about your body. It loves you like the best mother bear in the world loves her Gerber baby cub — with a fierce, visceral, snarling love that will do anything to protect you. Boy, are you friggin lucky.

If you’re mad because you’re over-fat, feeling cruddy, out of shape, riddled with aches and pains, etc. etc. you should start by taking a good, hard, honest look at how you’ve treated that ever-patient container of yours.

  • What have you fed (or not fed) your body?
  • How do you rest your body? How long do you sleep every night, and how well? How do you still your mind and give it serenity?
  • What chemicals do you put into your body? What industrial-pharmaceutical products do you eat, spray, inhale, bathe in, or smear?
  • How do you move your body? Do you move it at all, or jam it into a chair or car for several hours?
  • Do you let your body out to play in its natural environment? Do you see sunlight or greenery, or breathe fresh air, or feel the change in temperature every day? How well do you match your schedule with the cycle of the sun?
  • Do you say nice things to your body? Do you high-five it when it comes through for you? Do you high-five it just for existing and being a marvellous triumph of engineering?
  • Do you subject your body to a constant cacophony of sensory overload and stress?
  • When was the last time you wrapped your arms around yourself and gave yourself a big smushy hug? When you patted your tummy and felt its softness happily, instead of hating it for not being a hardened washboard? (Seriously, when the fuck did “washboard abs” become a goal that otherwise reasonable and intelligent women pursued? Evolution is laughing in your face, ladies. Suggest revising goal to “squatter’s ass”.)

Why, in short, should your body perform for you? Have you earned that performance?

Really?

If you can read this list and — in good faith — say “Hey, I’ve done a darn fine job, and I still don’t feel well,” then you are indeed entitled to be a bit grumpy about the state of affairs.

But most of you will have gotten stuck on point #1, mouths agape, drooling Froot Loop crumbs. Admit it. Hey, we’re all works in progress.

This isn’t about blame, of course. Most of you are also pros at self-blame (which is often part of the problem in the first place). It’s about taking responsibility and accepting the inevitability of change.

Maybe there are factors within your control that shaped the outcome. Maybe not. Shit happens, after all. But was it really random?

When I was first diagnosed, I racked my brain, scampering towards self-blame, as many women do. Did I eat too much? (Maybe.) Too little? (Maybe.) The wrong things? (Doubt it.) Did I train too much? Not the right way? (No, squats are almost never wrong!!) Was I too stressed? (At the time, yes. Now, no.) Was I too lean? (No.)  Should I get fatter? (I tried. Didn’t help.)

But blame is useless. It’s a narcissistic exercise. If self-flagellation were helpful in achieving life goals and meaning, wouldn’t nearly everyone be perfect? Blame immobilizes us in a snake-biting-tail cycle of helplessness and shame.

Responsibility, on the other hand, is extremely useful. Responsibility is about responding — moment to moment, dynamically, as the terrain of life shifts. It’s response-ability. It’s action-oriented. What bag of shit has life just handed you, and how can you make it stink less?

The best you can do is make the choices that give you the most options. Poor choices limit my options. Good choices expand my options. Then I am prepared to face change in the best way possible.

In June, Toronto was rocked for three days by G20 protests and riots. On Saturday, June 27, I walked down Queen St. West, one of my familiar haunts, to face a line of riot cops, just to see what it was like. At that point, it was much more like a rock concert, with riot police standing in for the stage, bored-looking hippies standing in for the headbangers, and iPhones standing in for lighters during the power ballad.

I left when the tear gas threatened. About 10 minutes after I walked away, a car was set on fire by the spot where I stood. I watched the ensuing footage on Saturday night, goggle-eyed and slackjawed as the rain poured down and cops poured into the streets. Neither let up. The next day, police rounded up hundreds of people — protestors and bystanders alike, boxing them in and then shoveling them up.

Shocked Torontonians watched the footage (or were among the nearly 900 people swept up in mass arrests) and said, “This is not my city. This is not the city I know.”

Well, it is.

It is your city. It’s just different now.

On Sept 5, I found my first two gray hairs.

Change is inevitable. And you’re gonna have to deal with it. Roll with it, give yourself the best chance possible, and try to have a sense of humour about the pharmacy lady.

Responses

  1. Teresa says:

    September 7th, 2010at 5:06 pm(#)

    I had my last period when I was 36. My practitioner misdiagnosed me for years (said I had PCOS) when it was really premature menopause. So I didn’t get on hormone replacement when I should have and may have contributed to bone loss. Now that I have found a combination and dosage of hormones that I like, I feel great. Also, no more menstrual cramps Yeah! Disadvantage: There’s very little research done on premature menopause, so you are pretty much a guinea pig. On the other hand, I don’t know whether it’s the menopause or just aging, but I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really care what other people think anymore, and so I just live my life the way I want to. It’s very freeing.

  2. TJS says:

    September 7th, 2010at 5:21 pm(#)

    Mu gray pubic hairs make me laugh. Hope your feet heal quickly.

  3. Daniel John says:

    September 7th, 2010at 8:25 pm(#)

    I Bless You as you Bless Me!

    Great post, I might have had five big laughs and at least two serious guffaws.

    Always a joy, I’m here to help…

  4. Martha says:

    September 8th, 2010at 12:15 am(#)

    1) Happy Birthday!

    2) Just a comment about your annoyance with women feeling their bodies have let them down. After I readyour column I sat here thinking, well, I have a right to feel like my body let me down a bit (if I want to think about it in those terms); I’m vegetarian, don’t eat processed foods, exercise and meditate, and I was still flattened out of the blue by a massive stroke at the age of 42.

    And then I corrected myself sternly. Martha (I sez), you could have been exercising a little more regularly, don’t you think? You also should have realized your work hours were waaay too long the six mos. before your own personal D-Day, and if you had been more open about your emotions to your family and friends, you might have gotten earlier treatment for depression, and hey, maybe caught that blood pressure spike. So really, that stroke was ALL YOUR FAULT after all.

    And then I clicked the link to write this comment. My point is not to disagree that women are too hard on themselves/their bodies, but to mention a possible other side. That is, for a lot of people dealing with any kind of infirmity, the urge to blame one’s self is really strong (not you, apparently — your estrogen story is hilarious!), so the checklist, here: did you do EVERYTHINGpossible to prevent this unhappy outcome? only verifies a pretty unhelpful sense of blame. I am fairly good at NOT looking down at my curled left fist and thinking: my fault! — but your column did send me there for a bit.

    so this is not intended as criticism, but just a possible different way of thinking, for instance? about that poor career woman who never gives herself a break, for fear of letting some nebulous something get her, because she wasn’t doing everything right, or the woman with type 2 diabetes (you know, the one that’s YOUR FAULT), who can’t bring herself to open such a psychologically difficult can of worms to her ttrainer, who by virtue of her job is obviously, you know, doing it all right.

    3. May your poor feet feel better soon!

  5. alison says:

    September 8th, 2010at 3:18 am(#)

    Thanks for writing this informative (and extremely funny) article. I am 41, cycles still regular (although i get some of the symptoms listed pre-period if I haven’t been eating right), but I know the menopause is on the horizon, and the silence about it is so damn *loud*.

  6. Mistress Krista says:

    September 8th, 2010at 4:12 am(#)

    @Martha, I agree, which is why I was careful to differentiate between “blame” and “responsibility”. Sometimes SHIT JUST HAPPENS. Who knows why? A random zot of DNA, a random zap of the universe’s sense of humour — who knows what the reason is? And life is SO not fair.

    Responsibility means being proactive, actively engaged in one’s own life, and recognizing the links between choices and consequences. And responsibility can occur at any stage. If you are sick, you can take on the responsibility of trying to heal (or just simply surviving as best you can). If you are healthy, you can take on the responsibility of trying to stay that way. Responsibility embraces a mature, pragmatic attitude towards “imperfection”, recognizing that life is inherently “imperfect”. Responsibility is empowering. Responsibility says, “What is in my control? And what can I do with that?” Responsibility turns us outwards, to engage us in the world and with our selves.

    Blame, on the other hand, is DIS empowering. It’s reactive and ruminatory. It’s only negative. Blame seeks a culprit and focuses on fuckups. Blame focuses on how much life sucks and feels ashamed of “imperfection”. Blame turns us inwards, alienating us from others and ourselves.

  7. Misty says:

    September 8th, 2010at 7:30 am(#)

    Hey, your birthday is one day before mine, coach :) Happy birthday!

    Great rant–thanks for posting it.

    One of the best things I’ve done for my health is learn Natural Family Planning. Through that charting I figured out really how wonky my hormones are, and that lead me to educate myself on how much my obesity and poor nutrition habits were affecting by body. I think this is one area where feminism has really let women down–instead of educating them to understand and work with their natural body, women are taught just to shove it all under the carpet with birth control pills. It’s similar to the mis-education we have with nutrition and movement. It’s almost enough to make a conspiracy theorist out of me :-D

  8. Victor C says:

    September 8th, 2010at 10:27 am(#)

    “But blame is useless. It’s a narcissistic exercise. If self-flagellation were helpful in achieving life goals and meaning, wouldn’t nearly everyone be perfect? Blame immobilizes us in a snake-biting-tail cycle of helplessness and shame.”

    This is brilliant and absolutely true.

  9. Dawn says:

    September 8th, 2010at 12:05 pm(#)

    Mistress Krista you completely ROCK! Thanks for explaining the reason for the crazy adrenaline rushes at precisely 4:00am!!! My eyes popped out of my head reading that part because I’ve been having that symptom exactly (on top of pretty much all the others you mentioned) for a couple of years now and even though I deduced it had something to do with hormones (seems to predictably happen for 3-4 days in a row before my period starts)… I had no idea at all that it could be an indication of the transition to menopause. I’m 39 and, until now, was unaware that some women become perimenopausal in their mid 30′s. What a relief to have more confirmation/information and to know I’m not alone. I’m now very curious about estrogen therapy and will bring it up with my doctor. THANKS again, seriously!!

  10. Melody says:

    September 8th, 2010at 12:28 pm(#)

    I loved your rant. I’m 46, so my hormonal vagaries are right on schedule, though that doesn’t make them more welcome.

    The picture of your feet made me cringe. About four weeks ago I dropped a 25 pound plate on one of mine. I was, like you, lucky enough to escape broken bones. But I’m operating at a level of heightened awareness now.

    Happy birthday!

  11. Laurel says:

    September 8th, 2010at 2:34 pm(#)

    I don’t know, I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but a lot of what you wrote seems to lead exactly towards blaming myself for my problems.

    Do I deserve a body that works? It sounds like the answer should be no and the answer will always be no until I’m doing everything perfectly (for whatever version of perfect the asker believes in).

  12. Tracy D. says:

    September 8th, 2010at 8:39 pm(#)

    If laughter is the best medicine, I’m in good shape. I haven’t been here in a while and I am glad I popped in today.

    We only have this moment. The last one is gone forever and the next one may never come. If you haven’t been taking care of yourself like you should, start with this moment. If and when the next one comes, do it again, right?

  13. Lillian says:

    September 8th, 2010at 8:41 pm(#)

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for the great read…I think the perimenopause might be what a friend of mine is going through, so I will pass the word on. Also, if it makes you feel better, one of my worst bumps/bruises that occurred while training was when I dropped the bar (no plates of course) while warming up. I tried to get out of the way, but it crashed down on my calf. It took about 4 months for the bruise and then the tenderness to go away!

  14. jj says:

    September 8th, 2010at 10:51 pm(#)

    I dearly hope your poor toes heal!

    “Despite being a so-called “expert” in the field of women’s wellness, I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS. Nobody does. Nobody, that is, except the millions of women who are sweating, crying, bloating, and wondering WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON AND WHY IS MY BODY POSSESSED?”

    That sounds EXACTLY the way I felt the first few months after having a baby. Exactly! Bodies just do wacky things sometimes.

  15. Juicy Lifter says:

    September 9th, 2010at 4:10 am(#)

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! it is such perfect timing for me to read your article……

    Having been to my chiro/physio/accupunturist all in one week, then crying in my Doctors office today, it’s been a huge wake up call to sort out things. After reading your article it’s been immensly helpful and put things in perspective thank you for putting me back on track…..it’s all to easy to get lost in the woods out there!

    “Maybe there are factors within your control that shaped the outcome. Maybe not. Shit happens, after all. But was it really random?”

    I especially liked this as it made me remember that I have been putting up with unhappy
    circumstances, for way too long. It changed the usual life of the party, gym junkie, vivacious girl that I am, into a complete physical and emotional train wreck, that is making me miserable.

    It’s quite scary when it appears to come out of nowhere, but then if you look closely you should have seen it coming really……

  16. Ms .45 says:

    September 9th, 2010at 4:12 am(#)

    I LOLed at the Russian bra vagina lady.

  17. Mistress Krista says:

    September 9th, 2010at 5:02 am(#)

    @Laurel: Go back and read the bit where I say it is NOT about blaming.

  18. Kristen says:

    September 9th, 2010at 10:57 am(#)

    I loved this, too:

    “Maybe there are factors within your control that shaped the outcome. Maybe not. Shit happens, after all. But was it really random?”

    We are the creators of our own life!

    However, it seems that if your life is crud, you are hardly in the mood to take responsibility for it. Unfortunately. Yet, it is the only way out of the cycle of low self-esteem and perpetual bad choices.

    An icky logic sets in: “I hate my life, AND I created it!! There is absolutely no hope! I’m going to go out and drown my sorrows (get ice cream) (shop til I drop) (etc.)”

    Maybe that’s why so many people have to drop so low or repeat hard lessons over and over until they have no choice but to do something different.

    Another way might be to take small steps toward positive goals and not identify with your choices. We’ve all made bad choices in the process of growth and because we’re not perfect, but they are not us. Learn from them and move on.

    I was struck, too, by the list of how we treat our bodies good and how we treat our bodies badly. It’s pretty simple, really. Hasn’t changed much over the years. Yet, every time you turn around, someone has a new method or gadget that addresses some tiny detail that doesn’t make a hoot of a difference if you’re not doing the big things, like getting enough sleep and eating nutritious food and exercising regularly. But there are loads of people who won’t hear common sense – they could look at your list and not think it applies to them.

    I have a friend who attacks her weight problem from all angles except for one: she just eats too much.

    I am fascinated by this process of transformation in people. What triggers developing the mindset that allows one to make better choices?

    Thanks for all you to, Krista, and Happy Birthday, and Get Well Soon, Toes!!

  19. Mistress Krista says:

    September 9th, 2010at 11:57 am(#)

    @Kristen: Boy have you ever nailed The Big Issues with that comment! Very thoughtful — thank you!

  20. Rosemary says:

    September 9th, 2010at 11:59 am(#)

    Thanks for this one Mistress. In 7 days I hit the big 5-0 and boy am I pumped! It’s one of the best “milestone” birthdays ever. I have a new physical passion (rowing), I mostly get enough sleep, and though I could limit my alcohol intake a bit, I do manage to eat pretty well, laugh pretty regularly, and don’t bite the heads of my kids and husband too often.

    It gets easier to move quickly through the “blame” phase the older I get. Maybe that’s one part of whatever ultimately turns into “wisdom,” though god knows I’m not there yet.

    So yeah, I waddle when I first get up these days — takes awhile for everything to work each day is how I think of it. When I do hurt myself it takes forever to get back to normal, and sometimes the new normal is a slight step back from where I was. My periods are wacko and have triggered a new type of migraine pain. But I’m strong, and for a 50 year old I’m pretty dang fit. Mostly, though, I’m content. Thanks for reminding me how important it is to stay that way.

  21. Rosemary says:

    September 9th, 2010at 12:00 pm(#)

    P.S. — love the foot photo. Post another when the bruising gets to that amazing yellow/green phase.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    September 9th, 2010at 12:58 pm(#)

    Happy Birthday Krista. Thanks for the laugh. That visual of the battleaxe in the pharmacy is priceless.

    I’m a reform-ing non-self nurturer. Circumstances lead me to believe everyone and everything else came first and that’s where I chose to invest my energy and focus to my own detriment. Sadly my body ultimately paid the price from years of stress, random eating habits and sporadic movement. I’m just happy I am still a big kid so I don’t get down about it.

    BUT I also keep telling myself as I get stronger and more conditioned at 40 years old that got-dammit I am determined go out with a mutha-effin’ *bang* and not a whimper. So I really do love and appreciate my body now plus, it carries my brain around and I gotta tell ya’ man, I love my brain.

    Thanks for this post. You always break it down to what is relevant and most meaningful.

  23. simma says:

    September 9th, 2010at 10:30 pm(#)

    Krista, it’s not as though wearing shoes offers all that much protection against a dropped metal weight, unless you lift in shoes with rigid toe and instep guards. May your feet heal up quickly. And happy birthday!

  24. Laurel says:

    September 9th, 2010at 11:34 pm(#)

    Most of the time, I look at myself and yeah, I’m “overweight”, yeah, I ate ice cream last week, yeah, I have a job as a computer programmer so I’m sitting at least 30 hours a week. Maybe there’s no such thing as fit and fat but I’m strong (like I can do 8 pullups and there are plenty of healthy weight women who can’t do one).

    There’s just things that I love to do that I know are not healthy — I went for a four day trip in the wilderness and instead of packing fresh food and a stove and fuel I brought cheese and chocolate and dried fruit so I could actually enjoy the walk. And the 6 hours of driving it took to get there. And the stress and sensory overload of being on a mountain alone as storm clouds are rolling in.

    It was pure joy.

    So was the ice cream I ate last week, the movie I watched last night sitting in a chair, the coffee I had this morning with a friend.

    I don’t think I could give that all up to be “healthy”. I guess I know that’s irresponsible of me.

  25. Mistress Krista says:

    September 10th, 2010at 6:34 am(#)

    @Laurel: I think the assumption that “healthy” involves deprivation and restriction is interesting, don’t you? It’s also interesting that “healthy” is seen as “things you DON’T do” rather than “things you DO”. Or rather, that “healthy” means “avoid ‘bad’ things” instead of “seek ‘good’ things”.

    It’s worth examining our underlying assumptions and mindset about what “healthy” truly involves, and what it actually means to live a “healthy” lifestyle. It’s also worth examining the reactions that we have — do we feel defensive, anxious, enthusiastic, angry, etc. when we feel that change might/should/must/can’t occur? And if so, why?

  26. KAW says:

    September 10th, 2010at 8:41 am(#)

    Happy Birthday, Krista! It’s been a privilege to read about your journeys over the past fifteen years. (Is that too creepy? Or is it just freaky to think that it’s been close to 15 years since mfw days.)

    I nominate this as one of your Best Posts Ever. It struck a chord with me, perhaps because I’m looking at 40 from the other side, perhaps because my body is no longer as invincible as it seemed at 30, or perhaps simply because I’ve struggled with loving my body virtually all of my adult life … and I can no longer fool myself into thinking that my “adult life” is anything less than half of the total.

  27. Kristen says:

    September 10th, 2010at 10:07 am(#)

    After reading your rant, I heard this interview with Liz Murray on Talk of the Nation, a Harvard grad whose parents were drug addicts and grew up homeless at times.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129753532

    Her story supports the ideas you presented here, Krista, that “life is an interpretation”.

  28. Linds says:

    September 10th, 2010at 11:19 am(#)

    Happy Birthday Krista!! So I guess you are a Virgo then eh?? ;)

    This was a great post and I must say I look forward to reading your rants. I may not be “old” by any stretch of the imagination (you have 10 years on me as I am only 27), however I am now seeing how what we have done in our past even as teens can affect our bodies in our late 20′s to 30′s. This was also an interesting read to me after I have been seeing my 91, almost 92 year old grandmother decline in health this past year. She has been quite blessed with good health and longevity but had a mild heart attack this past spring. To put it in her words her response to this diagnosis was “I am disgusted with myself”. I know in her mind she is thinking “how could i have stopped this from happening”.

    Your post also made me think about why I choose to lead a healthy lifestyle. Is it because I am trying to extend my own life? maybe, but you never know what can happen. I also like skydiving which in a sense could end my life faster then eating a Chicken McNugget. Is it because I want to live a life free of diseases and conditions, I guess that is one factor in my lifestyle choice but I may already be predisposed to certain diseases and conditions. I am adopted as well so all of it is a mystery to me. I mean after all, we are not immortals and we all will eventually die.

    After a lot of tought I realized why i choose to lead a “healthier” lifetyle. Because it makes me feel so much better. Before I started eating the way that i do, and trainign the way that I do i suffered from depression, was always tired, was stressed, got sick easily, didn’t sleep well, etc. I didn’t have any major medical issues but my body and emotional health was working against me. Now that my habits have changed I feel like a new person. I have more energy then ever before, I no longer suffer from depression, I don’t feel as stressed as before (i feel stressed occasionally but i not feel as though i have the tools to solve the problem causing the stress), And i sleep so much better!!

    Sure I am going to die some day, and there is a great possibility that despite all the precautions I have taken in my life I will develope cancer or have a heart attack. But at least i can live my life at this moment feeling wonderful, healthy and happy. Based on how i feel now, i know i have made the correct decisions :).

    And don’t feel bad about grey hairs…I got my first few this year!

  29. Mistress Krista says:

    September 10th, 2010at 2:03 pm(#)

    @Linds: AMEN SISTER!! You basically summed it all up right there. I feel FANTASTIC — every day! (Almost. Not so much the Barbell Drop Day… but leading up to it was pretty good!) Being in good health — as good health as is within my control — makes me feel awesome. It’s not about being a size or a shape or a skill level; it’s about self-care and feeling great in my skin… and about extracting as much physical joy from the world as possible before I drop something bigger on myself. :)

  30. Amy says:

    September 10th, 2010at 2:43 pm(#)

    Love your website and your rants! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I dropped a 35-lb. plate on my foot from shoulder height about a month ago. Like you, nothing broken — just a painful, swollen blue foot. But I finished my set of deadlifts . . .

  31. Elizabeth says:

    September 12th, 2010at 7:06 am(#)

    I love your ability to put things into perspective. It’s like the fresh bitch slap I need continually. Hate less, love more. In every aspect of life. I always get all giddy and kiddie-like when I see a new, long rant. Thank you!!!

  32. Elizabeth J says:

    September 12th, 2010at 3:18 pm(#)

    I loved this post, it’s fantastic! But, your link to the G20 protests in Toronto left me wanting more! As someone who feels as strongly about the lives we make (collectively) in cities as I do about the lives we make out of our bodies, I wonder if your line shouldn’t read: “It is your city. Is it the city you want?” If the Toronto of the G20 protest is the Toronto we made–a heavily policed and even repressive city where claiming the streets in protest is cause for arrest–shouldn’t we take the same approach to it that we take to our bodies, responding to it in a way that is “actively engaged,” rather than merely conceding that it is “just different now”? It makes me wonder what a city could look like if more barbell toting super-strong women claimed the streets together to make it them a little less repressive…

  33. rhm says:

    September 12th, 2010at 6:27 pm(#)

    I really agree with what Misty said:

    “I think this is one area where feminism has really let women down–instead of educating them to understand and work with their natural body, women are taught just to shove it all under the carpet with birth control pills. It’s similar to the mis-education we have with nutrition and movement. It’s almost enough to make a conspiracy theorist out of me :-D”

    I recently picked up a copy of “Taking Charge Of Your Fertility” and am finally learning how my body works. Oh how I wish someone told me all this stuff when I hit puberty and I didn’t have to wait 20 years to learn it for myself.

    I’m going to start charting my cycles so I can see how my health is going. I want to be able to note down all my pains and bloating and long cycles etc and make sense of them for myself rather than being scared of everything every cycle and always being one moment short of visiting the doctor to check if I’m dying.

    I’m so thankful you shared your experiences with menopause Krista. I think all women need to learn more about their fertility life cycle and know its okay (even healthy) to talk about it.

  34. Toby says:

    September 13th, 2010at 4:29 pm(#)

    Sorry to hear about the injury and change.
    LOLed RE: St Dan John… he is like…Yoda
    !

    Maybe a good traditional Chinese medicine practitioner would help.

  35. Laurel says:

    September 13th, 2010at 5:16 pm(#)

    Thanks for the response! (And of course the original post). One reason I only think of negative things (both stop doing that thing that I like and start doing this thing that I don’t like) is that if I could be healthy by doing what feels good I would be already.

    And there’s so much uncertainty too… maybe as an expert you know whether any choice you make is healthy or unhealthy or has no effect, but I’m not. I try to make an effort to educate myself and it seems like there are many issues where reasonable and smart people seem to disagree, or where it’s situation dependent.

    I think it’s also easier for experts to agree on what’s bad (ice cream, high fructose corn syrup) than what’s good (is meat good or bad? should you cook vegetables or eat them raw?).

    Since puberty I’ve only been a healthy weight when 1. undergoing cancer treatment, 2. deliberately losing weight. #2 seems great except it took 2 years and when it was actually “working” I had so little energy I couldn’t stay awake at work. I know it sounds like I’m making excuses, but from that experiment it seems like being at a healthy weight is not actually healthy for me. So if I’ve given up on weight loss, how else am I supposed to “honestly” measure health?

    FWIW, I definitely do feel defensive when I feel like people are all about my health limitations and think they know better than I do what I can and can’t do (not saying you’re doing this, you don’t even know me :)).

  36. Ciara says:

    September 14th, 2010at 5:55 am(#)

    I have been lurking around this site for a few years and I loved this post. My ovaries have been acting like a steam engine with a hose loose ever since puberty (I’m in my 20s) and I’m already boggling (and a bit apprehensive) about what else nobody warned me about – you know, when I signed up to be a girl. I felt the need to chime in with the other comments to say that birth control pills are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My ovaries are not impressed with my efforts to eat or exercise regularly or chart their precociousness. They do respond to the pill. I don’t regard this as “shoving it all under the carpet.” It’s what works, so I do it. “Natural” is not always best, nor is it feminism’s fault that women’s “natural” bodies are jammed into office chairs from 9-5 and stuck in traffic for two hours a day and otherwise forced onto a rhythm that better suits a machine than a living being. NFP gets a bad rap because it’s yet another constant commitment, another thing to keep an eye on, and frankly many of us already have our eyeballs spinning in our heads. The pill may not work for you. That’s keen. Keeping track of my hormones would be like chasing a three-legged rat through a mineshaft, though, so the pill is a real solution for me.

  37. Mistress Krista says:

    September 14th, 2010at 12:11 pm(#)

    @Laurel: I use multiple indicators to measure health.

    Subjective perceptions of health include things like: being pain free (or having reduced pain); high levels of functional mobility; mental-emotional state; energy levels; overall wellbeing, etc.

    Objective indicators include: blood work (glucose and insulin, lipids, hormones, cell counts, etc.); blood pressure and heart rate; athletic performance on various tests (strength, mobility, work capacity, exercise tolerance, etc.); and the like.

    I don’t really even bother with body weight unless it’s way outside an ideal range; I only use bodyfat % as a proxy for the ratio of lean mass to bodyfat, and there is a wide range of healthy bodyfat % that is quite individual. It’s not just about bf% either; the ratio also signifies things like bone mass, muscle mass, particular hormone and cell signaling levels, etc. Above or below a certain %, the hormonal and cytokine (cell signaling) environment changes because bodyfat is metabolically active and secretory tissue (in other words it makes and processes chemicals). The volume that fat takes up (i.e. in abdominal cavity, around the throat causing apnea, etc.) is also relevant in health.

    Body weight per se is only relevant in terms of mechanical loading (e.g. on joints, or in the force transmitted, say in a car accident); and the way it alters biomechanics (i.e. movement patterns).

    It’s easy to feel like experts don’t agree on what is good, but in fact if you understand the foundational principles (and ignore hysterical news reports saying broccoli cures cancer) you can see that there is broad agreement on the essentials.

  38. Diana Lobaton says:

    September 15th, 2010at 7:43 am(#)

    WOW! Thank you for that!

    I’m 35 years old and my story is just too long to write it here but it includes immigration, great losses, depression and always spreading myself too thin.

    In my mid 20′s I noticed a few grey hairs on my head. A few years later they had made a nice little patch on the right side close to the hair line. It used to freak me out. Every morning I had a daily inspection, tweezers on hand. I felt old!!!

    I turned 35 this april and I put my tweezers down for good. I’ve gone through a lot of crap in my life and I’ve earned those suckers!!! They are part of me and I’m going to honour those beautiful shiny colourless strands :)

  39. Aimee says:

    September 16th, 2010at 12:48 pm(#)

    WORD. Happy belated birthday!

    All I know is that living healthily- going to bed at a reasonable hour, drinking less, eating quality food, exercising- sure feels a lot better than hangovers, fa(s)t food, and self-hate. The change in my own psyche alone after not getting enough sleep is astounding! And that doesn’t include no sleep + hangover. I mean… it is pretty obvious.

    You’re right. It is a narcissistic act to blame myself because it’s that same ego that got me thinking I could do It All™ and have It All™, now thinking I can fix It All™. We can’t, and though I am still not perfect, I am slowly coming to be okay with missing out on the next party if it means I won’t feel tortured the next day.

    As you can tell, I was perhaps not perfect last night thus the fragmented thoughts, but the idea is there… and I’m moving on (to my bed, shortly)…

    I enjoy your rants, thumbs up.

  40. lisa says:

    September 20th, 2010at 4:19 am(#)

    I found this article quite entertaining~! thank you for sharing..keep em coming…LOL

  41. deb says:

    September 29th, 2010at 8:59 pm(#)

    Krista,

    First, those toes are painful to look at. Hope ice and time gets you back on your feet soon.

    Second, menopause is a kick in the pants- but getting on the other side is wonderful for the most part. And I say this knowing that the fat sticks around easier, the sleep is more tenuous, the food intolerances are a pain, and that memory thing doesn’t get better. BTW, did you realize that it is almost always NOUNS that you can’t remember. Yes, it’s that specific!

    I laughed, I sighed, I nodded in agreement throughout this post.

    The only time we stop changing is when we die. Here’s to years and years of change…

  42. tanya says:

    October 3rd, 2010at 10:42 pm(#)

    awww. you just have the cutest little toes.
    not necessarily bang on topic, that comment. sorry.

  43. Kicknknit says:

    October 6th, 2010at 7:18 am(#)

    1.) Happy Birthday. I’m 37 too… and have only been working on getting fit for the past 3 years. Love it.

    2.) Vulcans have green blood. But I suppose it could look blue through skin.

    3.) This post rocks…

  44. Moosecat says:

    October 12th, 2010at 3:51 am(#)

    Hi, hope your feet are getting better. 47 years biologically here, mentally/emotionally around 35. have been aware of perimenopause for last 10 years or so. if you are aware of the symptoms and they don’t freak you out, it makes you realise what a wonderful work of art our bodies are.

  45. Ingrid says:

    October 15th, 2010at 10:46 pm(#)

    Great rant! I laughed – a lot! Read it out to my husband -he laughed too…. I’d like to think I’ve finished going through menopause, but I seem to be experiencing the skin crawling with ants thing at present. I thought it was something to do with nerves & the hip replacement I had earlier this year…

    Anyway. I just wanted to confirm that menopause sucks. And I’m glad I only have to go through it once. I’ve found that doctors are not particluarly empathetic when it comes to dealing with the myriad of symptoms that you can experience. Especially when you are younger than the standard 51 – 54 that they regard as the normal age to experience it. I loved your description of your doctor’s visit Krista, because my own reaction to realising what was happening to me was much the same as yours. I can now honestly say to people who ask the children question “I’m far too old for that!” And I’m only 50.

    Night sweats, hot flushes, food intolerances, and now ants seem to be my lot. Based on your comments Krista, it could have been worse! But, there’s a certain sense of relief when your periods finally stop. Being free from that monthly cycle is fabulous.

    So, while it’s not a lot of fun to go through, once you get there you’ll be OK. Possibly even better than you were before, provided you continue to eat the right stuff, exercise regularly and treat yourself right.

    Once again, great rant, thanks for reminding me of what’s truly important.

  46. J. L. says:

    October 16th, 2010at 8:58 am(#)


    You get gray hairs NOW? Wow. I remember having half a dozen or more so gray/white hairs since I was 9 years old or so. But then again the chronic depression I had since 6 or earlier miiight have contributed… I did think it was cool though, since there were a lot of cartoon super heroes and villains who had a splash of white in their hairs, and lamented that I did not have a proper amount of white hairs instead of just a few strands.

    That said, great rant, as always :-3

  47. Malin says:

    November 14th, 2010at 4:26 am(#)

    Hey Krista,

    So this caught my attention:

    “Now my mother will finally get off my case about not having children!”

    So, I’m 23 years old and everybody keeps telling me that I will want children eventually. Likewise, this keeps on not happening. I had a, for me, rather shocking revelation a couple of weeks ago hanging out with my friends. They’re all smart, talented, dedicated to whatever their passion is, feminists – and they all want children. They just KNOW (in a way that seems utterly bizarre to me). This rattled my composure quite a bit. I feel rather alone in having actual doubts about whether I want kids or not.

    I don’t hate children, hell, I don’t even actively DISLIKE children (and I get to say this with confidence because I’ve actually worked with children. The joys of temping at a daycare, let me not share those right now). I am however profoundly uninterested in having them. Or spending time with them. I don’t find the thought of rearing offspring rewarding.

    Maybe I will change my mind, who knows, but until that potentially happens, or not happens, I’d just like to find a way of existing with the thought (shocking and subversive as it apparently is) that I might not have children. I would also like to find that happy medium without resorting to thinking of and calling people with children “breeders” because the entire contempt-for-people-that-aren’t-like-me seems just a tad uncool. This is proving harder than I thought. Also, boyfriend with a serious yearning for future family.

    I guess I’m asking for your thoughts on the matter and how you dealt with this issue, if it ever was a big issue for you.

  48. Mistress Krista says:

    November 14th, 2010at 7:01 am(#)

    @Malin: You are most definitely NOT alone. It is quite normal not to want children. It is also quite normal to want children. And quite normal to have mixed feelings. Or change your mind at different stages of life.

    Each person’s journey is unique. Nothing is inevitable. The whole “biological clock is ticking” thing is bullshit. Yes, people’s priorities change over the life course, and life is full of surprises (I know folks who decided to adopt in their late 40s/early 50s, for instance; and there’s always the classic “whoops” pregnancy), but there is no predetermined destiny. You’re not a robotic slave to your ovaries (nor anyone else’s value system nor experiences).

    A long time ago a very wise older feminist mentor told me: “When it comes to children, understand this: Whatever you decide will change your life profoundly.” The most important thing is to live authentically, with integrity, in the service of your deeper principles and values.

    Another important thing to understand is that there are many ways to have children in your life. You can have many types of relationships, whether that’s as a parent, an auntie, a mentor, a foster parent of an older child, an older wiser crone, a co-parent with others (e.g. being a birth mom with a gay couple), a step-parent in a blended family, etc. etc. I have two adorable nephews, and if anything ever happens to their parents, those kids are my responsibility. Families come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. There are lots of younguns out there who need care and love, and life is full of opportunities to share that care and love. The way I look at it, if I decide at any age to have children in my life there are many ways to do this that would be fulfilling and rewarding, and that don’t require me to produce one.

    There is no one way to do things. You do what is right for YOU and don’t let ANYONE tell you differently.

    I have never regretted my choice not to have children. In fact it is actively awesome. That’s my life and my choice. There are lots of folks like me. But each person has their own choices, values, and experiences. All are valid. All are “normal”.

  49. FeministDude says:

    November 23rd, 2010at 7:11 am(#)

    “Another important thing to understand is that there are many ways to have children in your life.

    The way I look at it, if I decide at any age to have children in my life there are many ways to do this that would be fulfilling and rewarding, and that don’t require me to produce one.”

    It’s the most brilliant thing I’ve heard on this subject so far, thanks a lot, Krista. Really. It goes along with my intuitions that I couldn’t quite find words for. I’m the same age as Malin, and I’ve recently decided to get a vasectomy.
    I have an utilitarian stance on most aspects of life, and this includes parenting – IMHO being a good parent to the child one ‘produced’ isn’t one being good to the universe, but something they owe this particular being. So if I find what I wanna do is make world a better place – there are lots of more effective ways to do it. Some of which include ‘having kids in your life’.

    I also have an adorable nephew, BTW :)

  50. Autumn says:

    November 23rd, 2010at 3:06 pm(#)

    I love coming to this site for wisdom and inspiration. I wish I had the female support here that I find on this site. Unfortunately, not a lot of women my age enjoy lifting. In fact, honestly, there aren’t a lot of women in general at the gym I train in.

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with not wanting children. I think we, as women, have to stop the insanity of constantly trying to live up to another’s expectations–whether it’s about body image or our biological clocks. We have to start making our own decisions about our lives and our bodies. We also have to start supporting each other. Sometimes, other women are our biggest enemy (or should I say “frenemy?”).

  51. Amy says:

    December 28th, 2010at 12:58 am(#)

    Though I managed to miss reading this post for months, happy birthday and I hope your feet have healed!

    I had to comment as I also have had the “ovary rebellion,” in my case endometriosis (incredibly painful cysts) resulting in two surgeries, one to remove the first ovary, then a second one to remove the second plus a TAH, complete hysterectomy. OUCH! So going cold turkey on estrogen, dealing with replacement hormones at age 36 (and the constant barrage of “you’re too young!”), and looking at no kids — and actually not feeling bad about it…well, you’re in good company! :^) And ladies, check out Femring if you hate creams or dealing with hormones more than every couple of months.

    Meanwhile, four years later, I am lifting weights and enjoying getting buff! I love your site and the inspiration it provides to women who are so much more than the helpless waifs of storybooks and media marketing. I feel the freedom from raising a family (though kids are great, don’t get me wrong) has meant the possibility of taking better care of myself and always learning something new…life is not just good, but extremely good! For every door that closes, 100 open if you look.

  52. Mitzi says:

    January 1st, 2011at 7:37 pm(#)

    I just discovered your website and found myself laughing and commiserating simultaneously with this rant. My hormones went off the rails at 24 (something about martial arts 6 nights a week and body fat % too low), but they never really came back, even after I quit due to injuries. First hot flash at 31, on birth control (my body responds to the pill for about 2 months, then says, “Ha!” and does its own thing). Now 39, I can keep the night sweats at bay if I get 2 servings of soy (milk or tofu) a day. Mood swings are proportional to sugar intake. Periods are rare (still on pill to keep anemia away when they do happen), so I lift 3x a week, and take several flights of stairs with a computer in my backpack daily. My parents and other older adults keep asking if I’m getting taller. Christine Northrup has written books I found helpful during the “How did my body get possessed?” phases of life. Very informative. Doctors were mostly no help and sometimes downright humiliating.
    I look forward to being inspired and informed by this site.

  53. Pretty Pauline says:

    January 14th, 2011at 3:56 pm(#)

    I love articles like this, both honest and necessary. I am a nursing mom diagnosed with atrophic vaginitis a few years ago. Rare in nursing mamas, but I’m lucky like that. Estrogen cream has been a godsend, else it’s just rawfully painful in private places. TMI?

  54. Erica says:

    February 19th, 2012at 9:38 pm(#)

    I’m naming my band Frisky Ovaries.


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