Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Taking My Health for Granted: Addressing Health Concerns While Remaining Body Positive

I often spend hours and hours writing about beauty and fashion on the blog, some weeks more than others. However, I don't really think I've been so candid to share some of my deepest thoughts, fears and challenges. Two years ago, I re-vamped my blog, and changed its domain name to Erica Exposed. I did this to showcase that my blog has been a way for me to expose myself to vulnerability and share some of my most intimate thoughts and experiences with my readers. Today, I want to address my concerns and feelings on the surface, breaking down any barriers that often stand in the way of expressing how I feel.

I want to share with you a two part series about what it feels like to be me. Simply, Erica Exposed.
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of others.

Today, I was supposed to be in New York City. I was supposed to be in NYC for Fashion Week from September 12-17th, and it didn't happen. I've spent hours filled with regret, daydreaming about the incredible experience I could have had.. if only. If only, I wasn't in pain. If only, I felt I could be comfortable enough on a 1.5 hour flight. If only, I had the stamina to walk the streets of NYC with my blogger besties. If only, I could wear heels to NYFW events. The harsh reality was, I couldn't do any of that. Why? I injured my back 3 1/2 weeks ago, and I just broke down. I pushed myself way too hard and treated my body like garbage. I took my health for granted. My body was telling me to slow down, and I had to listen.

P.S. Check out Jess and Allie's fun NYC adventures ~ ~

Now, before everyone gets up and starts making comments about my health (that they have no reason to be making... see tomorrow's post), please save them for the end. If you don't have time to read this entire post, then please do not make any assumptions or comments. When I mention that I treated my body poorly, I am not only talking about diet and exercise (although, they do certainly play a role). I want to address the fact that I pushed my limits in every way possible. There are reasons why we behave in certain ways. I know that I shouldn't do these things, but sometimes, I still do. Here is a list of what I am talking about:

  1. schedule change (i.e. working nights and having to adjust to this very quickly)
  2. poor sleep regime
  3. poor eating habits (there it is, you can all sit down now) *
  4. lack of routine exercise regime (again here we go again) 
  5. lack of self-awareness/concern for self **

  • not eating breakfast because I work nights and sleep in the mornings *
  • not eating lunch because I'd rather look pretty at work than have a full stomach *
  • not eating dinner because I am busy at work or put my patients before myself *
  • not taking breaks at work (read: i am an emergency dept social worker) **
  • telling myself I can do something when I know I can't **
  • being afraid or self-conscious to ask for help **

  • I am a fat person who is fortunate to be relatively healthy. For example, I do not have hypertension, diabetes, heart disease or "knee problems" (thanks, but no thanks, Nicole Arbour). However, I do have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), asthma and sciatica/herniated discs in my back. All of which have a relation to my weight, but are not actually CAUSED by my weight. I could have it much worse, and honestly, at the rate I've been going.. I just might. I no longer want to feel short of breath, fatigued or be in pain. That is why, I have decided to take my health into my own hands and finally address my concerns. I have decided to become accountable for myself. 
    I have tried time and time again to lose weight (sometimes successfully), but at what cost? I have a history of crash dieting, anorexia, and binge eating and it makes a case for a very strange eating disorder, not otherwise specified (NOS) in the DSM-5. Please see my very candid post about this here. The reasons I had for losing weight in the past were not sincere. I now feel that I am ready to be sincere, genuine and forgiving. I am taking a stance to treat my body with the love and respect that I deserve. In the mean time, I am continuing to love my body as it is. READ: Seeking change to improve your health does not exclude you from being body positive. This also goes to say that being body positive DOES NOT only refer to weight! It refers to every inch of your body, including extensions of your body (such as mobility or assistive devices that so many of us, including myself, have!!!).

    When you are overweight (or obese), exercise and weight loss often comes with a price. It's a Catch 22. You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't. All three times I sustained a back injury, I was engaging in physical activity. I wasn't laying on my couch eating cupcakes and watching reruns of Gossip Girl. I was being ACTIVE. I know that may come as a shock to some of you... but it's possible. Just because someone is overweight, or even obese, does not exclude them from engaging in physical activity (just tell that to Whitney Thore, of My Big Fat Fabulous Life). My experience also suggests, that as you continue to gain weight it may (but not always) become increasingly difficult to engage in these activities. Hence, why I have decided to make a change. I want to get back to the old me. There is a version of Erica that I can appreciate, and strive to become once again. This Erica was motivated, energetic and healthier. Now, I am less of these things.

    I fail at some things that I try. I'm sure you do too, but I'm here to tell you (and myself) that it will be, and it is okay. We are human, every single one of us, and "to err is human". There is no way we can be perfect, despite how hard we may try to do so. This is challenging for me to admit, as a self-proclaimed "perfectionist". We make mistakes, and sometimes we even make the same mistake(s) repeatedly. Guess what? That's okay. I believe that if we stopped trying, if we stopped making mistakes, we then begin to feel numb, to feel hollow or depressed. At least, that's how I felt. I can't and won't let myself feel that way anymore. I refuse.
    This was me in February 2014, with my cane after my very first back injury (still happy).


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