Today I have the pleasure of sharing another REAL story today! To follow along with Beth on social media, check out her Instagram where she shares all things food, travel, and life!
Be sure to check out the #mybodyisenough January print and postcards here.
"The challenge to accept and, daresay, even love my body certainly looks a lot different than it did about 5 years ago. I remember prepping for my high school senior year spring break in the Dominican Republic. Yearning to have the best "spring break bod" was obviously a top priority over my less than satisfactory physics grade or play rehearsal. I wanted to impress Jason*, the hot soccer player who liked the same indie bands that I did. I cut out processed carbs, ran around my neighborhood and popped an Abs of Steel VHS into the machine every night for two weeks. I also lathered my butt with skin-firming, self-tanning Jergen's. Because how embarrassing would it be if I didn't magically show up on the first day of spring break with a glowing base tan. Since I was 17 and blessed with a great metabolism (thanks, Mom...I've sort of accepted you are more in shape at 50 than I am at 22), my Victoria's Secret Angel-inspired, 14-day plan worked for me, and I proudly flaunted my tan, flat stomach in my overly-padded bikini all week long. I even made out with Jason on the beach once or twice that week. Wham.
*Name changed for the sake of my eternal embarrassment if anyone from high school found this blog.
During my adolescent and teenage years, I never had to put in much effort to be fit. While I regularly ate a healthy diet, I could pretty much eat as much as I wanted. I occasionally jogged around my neighborhood, but I was never a "no days off" gym rat. I certainly wasn't about to miss any sleep to wake up early to work out before my freshman year 8 am Stat class. I would occasionally sign up for Barre3, blend a green smoothie and feel like a health goddess. I was healthy. My body was agile, flexible and full of energy. I thought I was invincible.
But as my first year at USC came to a close, seemingly overnight, I said goodbye to the daring, spontaneous college freshman, who was always down to be the last one at tailgate or hike the Congaree National park. It started with a series of UTIs that just wouldn't seem to fully go away. I spent more time in the student health center peeing in a cup than I did in the classroom. One morning, the UTI dipstick was clear, but I still found myself wincing in pain whenever I had to urinate and sitting in the back of all of my classes so i had easy access to the bathroom. And this was just the beginning of the new me. HealthIssuesGirl.
I grew up with an easy homelife and did not go to USC with a thick skin. I couldn't emotionally handle being in physical pain around the clock, while keeping up my grades, internships, friendships and my relationship. I travelled home frequently to see specialist after specialist, who had no idea why it felt like I had to pee straight up battery acid four times an hour. Night after night, I would either wake up to go to the bathroom multiple times or sit on the toilet for hours crying in pain. I tried to restrict my diet to low acid, anti inflammatory foods, which, guess what, meant little to no alcohol. My days of staying at the Saloon to close with the PiKapps and my roommate dwindled down. Working out always intensified the burning feeling when I went to the bathroom, so I stopped Strom gym dates with my boyfriend and jogging around my neighborhood. I spent a lot of time very angry. I was jealous of seemingly everyone else around me who could drink a single beer, eat sphaghetti with marinara sauce and take a hot yoga class without spending the rest of the day, week or month regretting it. I lived in a constant state of paranoia that I would do something to trigger more bladder pain. Mostly, I felt very, very alone. While my mom, boyfriend and friends tried to be there for me the best that they could, I began to resent them for going to the gym, drinking wine, being healthy.
I wish that I could I tell you that I mustered up an unrelenting positive attitude and found a way to "dance in the rain." That my pain miraculously disappeared over night. Since my bladder pain began, however, my health story has only become more convoluted and mysterious. I've had days that put my worst bladder days to shame. I could continue on to list off a bunch of medical jargon that all ends with the word "disorder" or "syndrome," but I would rather use this opportunity to note what I have learned to be absolute about making peace with yourself when your mind and body seem to be at constant war:
This actually is only temporary. Don't ever get so caught up in a moment of hell that you condemn yourself forever damned.
Find your comfort food. Mine was Stars Hollow.
There are a lot of people who would do almost anything to have your quality of life, even if it seems like you would do anything to have the quality of life of the people you're surrounded by.
Live. It. Up. on the good days. Cheat on the rules you set for yourself (within reason). Go for a hike at the Congaree National Park and top it off with a Sweetwater 420 or two. (And don't forget to take your AZO pills if you're gonna have that beer.)
Don't resent the people who love you on the days when you are so damn unloveable, and go above and beyond for them on their birthday. Mom, I hope you enjoy those Bruno Mars tickets.
If you're an easy-going optimist, it's okay to scream every once in a while. Cry. Cuss. Throw your meds at the nearest wall as hard as you can.
If you tend to be more of a Negative Nancy, it's okay to watch reruns of the Bachelorette with your roomies and laugh at what a weird manwhore Nick truly is.
If you feel stuck in your head, go for a twenty minute walk outside. Take a yoga class. Look up Yoga Girl and 108 yoga online. Just move and breathe.
Don't add stress to your life with a job you hate, a major you're not passionate about, a friendship that is one-sided. It becomes a lot easier to recognize unecessesary BS and cut it out!
Know that you're doing the very best you can. On the days when you get a full nine hours of sleep, eat salmon and kale for dinner and exercise. But also on the days where you're late to work after being up all night in pain. The days when you "accidentally" break your health diet and share a bottle champage on your boyfriend's 25th birthday. On the days when you're truly a nightmare to be around.
Give your body the love that it craves. It wants you to love it back." -Beth