Saying I do to My Body

This past October, I got married.

I did it up pretty big, too. A big, white, cupcake dress, two hundred guests from near and far. Nine months of preparations, crafting, and DIY-ing whipped by in a pleasure-filled blur of prosecco, friendsfaces, and silk organza. And now Im a Mrs, living with a Mr. in a new apartment.

During the nine months between engagement and wedding, I did other things too. Non-wedding things. I slept and woke and went to work, watched movies, met with friends. I even took a trip or two. And yes, I ate food.

I love food.

If I couldve, I wouldve entered into a polygamist marriage with garlic, cheese, cookies and Devin Landis on October 7th, 2017. Only trouble is, thats illegal (or maybe just frowned upon?) and besides, its an unrequited love relationship. No matter how much I love certain foods, they refuse to love me back: gas, a splash of bumpy rash across the chest, the forever-itch that lives under the surface of my skin. Its not a symbiotic relationship.

And in this pre-wedding period, I also found the time to partake in a little food experiment called Whole30. Whole30 is a one-month elimination diet meant to “reset” your digestive system and act as a cure-all for all sorts of ailments: skin issues, cravings, seasonal allergies, digestive problems, and inflammation.

In a nutshell, heres what you can eat: vegetables, meat, nuts, fruit and...and...well thats pretty much it. No sugar, no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol, no party, no fun.

Some people do Whole30 to lose weight. With my wedding coming up, thats what most people assumed I was going for. But I was in it for something else: see, not only do I have a weak gut, I also have a monster living deep within my pelvic closet: an Endometri-monster. Endometriosis, or endoas we insiders affectionately like to call it, is a reproductive disease where tissue that should grow in your uterus starts to grow elsewhere. No one really knows why or how to fix it, so many of us are walking around with chronic abdominal and lower back pain, severe cramps, bloating, and a whole gamut of

hormonal therapies
hot packs
bubble baths
pain meds
and yeshighly restrictive diets to try to ease inflammation.

I figured Id give Whole30 a go and see if it helped.

And honestly, the idea of toning up and getting glowing skin for the wedding sounded like an added bonus.

Shame for every size.

Growing up, I was small. Ive stayed the same size and shape since my boobs came in. Ive always been confident in my body. Ive loved it for all the sports it played and places it took me. I loved learning the complicated power that lives in the female form. Still, Im not immune to the greater body-shaming story of today. There are parts of my body I wish I could change: thighs, that ever-present pocket of belly, the inner workings of my womb that refuse to work like theyre supposed to. 

Im sometimes called out for how small I am. A friend comments on a healthy dinner order, assuming Im worried about my weight, so the next time, I order a burger and fries out of spite: Ill show you, lady. Im not too small. Theres nothing going on here. Or someone grabs my arm, makes an Oaround my wrist with their index finger and thumb, Youre too skinny!

But, my thighs! The belly pocket! This is just the way I am!

Thats the reaction I got when friends and strangers found out about Whole30. 

Are you doing that for the wedding?
You shouldnt lose any weight.
But your collar bones already stick out so much.
Youre too skinny.

So, I kept it quiet 1) because I cringe when I hear people talk about health fads and 2) I didnt want people to make me feel bad by assuming I was trying to fit into a dress, instead of taking control of my health.

I ate all the nuts. Potatoes were my best friends. I was a little hungry. I was a lot grumpy. I dont know if I lost weight (Whole30 forbids tracking weight lossso you can focus on the health gains). But, dang, did I feel good by the end of the 30 days.

I hate that it worked.

Mainly because of the aforementioned love of cheese and desserts. But also because I dont want people to pretend theyre worried for me when Im trying to be healthy. I want others to see my body for what it is: small, yes, but beautiful and mighty. I want to empower others to feel good and strong, not poke and prod at them with my insecurities. I want to order what I want without feeling like I have to prove anything to anyone. 

I want to walk down the aisle, across the beach, up the street and thank my body for carrying me, for being the carrier of breath and tight hugs and stories. I want to trust Im healthy and not succumb to shame that ties the circumference of my wrist to my well-being. I want to fit into my body, to love me, the whole of me, each working and each pain-filled part. My thighs, my belly pocket, and even my temperamental womb.

Photos by: Blythe Leslie Photography

November 21, 2017 — Nettle’s Tale