Brace yourself… this is getting personal and the post is a little long. Fair warning.
Just before leaving on vacation I stepped on the scale for the first time in a long time. As a sidenote, I’m not a scale person. I don’t think they give an accurate reading of your health and wellbeing. Muscle weighs more than fat and so often a person can be gaining muscle and not see the number on the scale move very much. But when I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office last week I wanted to cry. The number was scary. The number was higher than I can ever remember weighing. And immediately I started beating myself up. I was fat. I was not fit. I had let myself go. I was fat.
The self loathing continued for several days. I tried on clothing items I was going to take on vacation and put them in a pile to donate instead because they didn’t look right. They didn’t fit the way they used to. I left my bathing suits at home because there was no way I was going to the beach looking the way I do. To be honest, I almost packed all black clothing because I was so distraught at the number on the scale and the state of my body.
I remarked on this sorry state to someone and she suggested I practice a little self compassion. At first the idea seemed silly. You have compassion for a person when she is suffering and you empathize with her situation. But to have compassion with myself for the weight I’ve put on these last couple months?? How could I do that? Why would I do that?
It wasn’t until I was on the airplane flying East that I realized that compassion and a little self love is exactly what I should be giving myself. At the beginning of February I woke up one morning with a jacked up jaw and teeth that didn’t align on the left side of my face. It was painful. For the first week, since I had no idea what was going on I ate normally and ended up in more pain each time I chewed a piece of meat or ate a salad. A week later at the dentist, she told me I had a tight jaw muscle. It was acute – the type of injury she usually saw after a car accident, not one that happened overnight. Only I wasn’t in a car accident. I was stressed, apparently clenching my teeth and over a long period of time I stressed my jaw out so badly it tensed up and would need serious TLC.Dress: Jane app
Vest: Free People via ShopBop
Shoes: Tahari via Amazon
Sunnies: In Wood Company
The dentist suggested not talking – which is so NOT possible when you are a teacher. She suggested going for a massage – I went for two and felt some relief but nothing permanent. She suggested a mouthguard but couldn’t even fit me for one during the first 6 weeks of jaw pain because of how tight my jaw was an how inaccurate the reading would be. When I finally got fitted for the night guard it was a long, painful and grueling process that gave me a two-day migraine as a result. AND she suggested going on a liquid/soft foods diet – not consuming anything that would cause my jaw to do much work.
For a girl that has been 90% paleo for the last 5 years, a liquid/soft foods diet is far from the norm. It meant reintroducing grains, which I had hardly eaten in the previous 5 years, in the form of oatmeal. It meant ingesting a heavy amount of dairy in the form of yogurt, keifer, cottage cheese – all of which I never ate before. It meant eating lots of soups, which often have a large amount of foods I don’t normally eat – flour, beans, rice, chic peas, etc… It meant eating loads more in sugars than I ever have before, because a blended fruit smoothie is pretty much one big cup of sugar. It also meant getting creative with how to get enough protein and how to eat enough that I feel full and get the nutrients I need. It’s been a nightmare.
Hitting the gym has been complicated as well. When you stop eating according to your normal diet and are in pain all the time, getting the the gym is more a dream than a reality. For at least two months I literally went straight home from school and went to bed because the pain was to intense and the diet had me too hungry and too weak to do much of anything.
During this time I’ve been on muscle relaxants and steroids from the doctor in order to help the process along. I’ve spent full weekends not saying a word to speed the healing. I stayed home instead of going on the planned Spring Break trip in order to rest; staying home to sleep and adult color instead. And then finally last week I went to a pain specialist for a botox consultation because I can’t handle the pain and the tight jaw any longer. That consultation is when I stepped on the scale and saw clearly how this diet meant I didn’t lose any weight but rather gained – a lot.
On the plane this week I realized something. If the woman sitting next to me had told me this 4-month saga I would have been horrified at what she went through. I would have offered my compassion and empathy. I would have commiserated with her. I would have assured her that some weight gain while her body figured out how to cope with what was going on was to be expected. I would have tried to be positive and optimistic for her. I certainly would not have told her any of the things I was telling myself since stepping on the scale. And it’s not that I would be lying to her by saying those things. No, it would be compassion that had me speaking. Compassion that I am lacking with myself.
So, now instead of telling myself I’m fat and bemoaning the fact that my smaller friends and Goodwill got a good portion of my clothing collection, I’m going to try and have some compassion with myself. I’m going to try and remind my head that these last four months have been intense and I’ve carried on surprisingly well for being in so much continuous pain. That weight gain while feeling horrible day in and day out, while unable to eat normally, while unable to go to the gym, while just trying to survive is not a sign of weakness or a sign that I’m pathetic. No. It’s a sign that I was, and still am, unwell.
For now I’m going to not beat myself up internally about the weight gain and I’m going to work on having a little self compassion.