Cycles of Self-Respect and Self-Neglect

I haven’t been posting too much recently because I haven’t been in the best of moods, but I’ve felt that if I’m trying to post stuff that makes other people feel good, I should probably feel good myself.


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Unfortunately, the truth is, I’ve been in something of a slump. I haven’t been going to yoga, I’ve been eating lots of ice cream, and I’ve been spending hour after hour locked in front of my computer watching Project Runway on Hulu. (By the way, I’m officially out of Project Runway episodes to watch, does anyone happen to have seasons 1-6 on DVD that I could borrow and watch obsessively?)

I’m getting dizzy spells when I stand up and I’ve broken out in my yearly summer rash. I’m a non-stop itch machine. Green and I are trying to move out of our apartment and all I want to do is lie on the floor and play Animal Crossing. (That’s not true, all I want to do is lie on the floor and watch Project Runway. But I’m out.)

In addition, I’ve noticed my waking temperatures (which I’ve been tracking every morning since going off the pill) are extremely low, in the 95 – 97 degree range. This could be a sign of thyroid issues, which might explain my dizzy spells, my rash, and why I’m lethargy-prone. I really don’t want to get it checked out, though, because I’m terrified of a positive diagnosis, and I do not want to be on thyroid medication.

The tipping point came yesterday, when I broke down in a fit of tears for no discernible reason.

And all this time, I’m thinking, “I should really blog about something,” but I’ve been avoiding blogging about my miserable mood because Jessica Mullen recommends only blogging about what you want more of, and I certainly don’t want more of my miserable mood. The “post-what-you-want” method works in theory, except for the fact that avoiding posting because I’m not in a great mood is just making me feel worse, and less authentic.

The truth is, I am a cyclical being. Ever since I started to be more health conscious, I’ve gone through cycles of being super on top of things and feeling great, to lying in slumps of absolute misery. It happens. I think it’s almost worse to get my hopes up thinking THIS TIME it will be permanent, because then when I fall off the wagon, I spend extra time beating myself up about the fact that I’m not being healthy like I know I should (and can) be. Which sets me back even further.

So my new motto, which I’ll repeat once more, is: IT HAPPENS. There are times when I let my health slack and I pull inward, staying home more than I go out. It happens, and I know I’m not the only one it happens to, either. So perhaps reading about my current temporary setbacks might make someone else feel less guilty about their own, because I think it is natural to be cyclical. It can’t be summer all the time, there has to be winter to balance things out.

Learning this stuff is a lifetime journey. Living healthfully, especially in a society that promotes dis-ease and quick fixes, is tough.

The good news, however, is that the more years I spend learning about health, the shorter my slumps get, and the longer my good stretches last. If nothing else, I can look forward to the fact that it can only get better from here. Not only that, but because of how much I’ve learned in the past, I know exactly how to fix it.


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My constant search for curing the problem and not the symptoms will never end. When I get to the point where I feel so bad that I know it’s time to get back on track, I ultimately find articles or books that point me in the right direction. This time, I’m giving cutting out sugar another shot. Five years ago, I did it for a month, but I ate lots of fruit and honey and felt miserable the entire time. It turns out that honey and fruits are just as bad for your system as refined sugar.

The stars seem to be aligning on this one: I know it’s sugar that’s slugging me down, and I’ve been reading Sarah Wilson‘s “I Quit Sugar” series on her blog for tips and support. Incidentally, Sarah Wilson also blogs about naturally healing and living with auto-immune disease (which includes thyroid issues).

The icing on the cake: A friend of mine on Facebook announced that she’s about to start her own 60 Days Without Sugar Challenge, and would anyone care to join her? Well, I love me a good challenge (and this one comes with a prize for the winner! A $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com, heck yes!), so I’ve signed up. The challenge starts July 6th, but I’ve already started, because I’m sick of feeling terrible. If anyone else wants to try this with me, check out Sarah Wilson’s blog and we’ll rock this out.

During slumps, it’s important to remember that they are only temporary, and that you have the power to get yourself back on track. At the same time, it’s just as important not to beat yourself up. We are human beings after all, and if the worst thing we’re doing to ourselves is having a few pints of ice cream and sleeping late for a month or two in between long stretches of honoring our bodies, I’d say we’re doing pretty well.

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Am I A “Baby Daddy”? – FAM FYI

THIS ONE’S FOR ALL MY MISTERS. Can…can I say that? Is that a thing? Are you a man? This post is for you. That’s what I mean.

This post was originally going to be about my first complete FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) cycle and all the charting and awesome that went along with it, but I’m CHANGING MY MIND. For now.

I’m changing my mind because something happened to a friend of mine that is not uncommon, and I realized that his situation is one of many in which a general knowledge of FAM can be incredibly useful. What happened, in a nutshell: He went on a couple of dates with a woman, the woman now claims to be “late”. Needless to say, he is worried. This is an unfair advantage women have over men, to be able to dangle that fear of “maybe…” over his head. My goal with this post is to throw down some knowledge so that men can feel a little more security and control when faced with a situation like this.

Of course, before I get into this, I should clarify that I am not a doctor, a scientist (mad or otherwise), a veterinarian, an oceanographer, or whatever. I highly recommend reading up on FAM and lady cycles yourself, talking to a qualified professional, and all that jazz. Are we cool? Okay, on with the show.

HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION: Let’s say you and a lady get all freaky. (For the duration of this post, I’m assuming you’re a man.) Then later, said lady looks in your eyes and confesses that her period is late. Which generally indicates that she could be with child (that means pregnant).

Here’s the key to everything I’m about to say next: If the amount of time elapsed between “sexy times” and the “I might be preggers” confession is less than two weeks, the odds are pretty darn good that she is not, in fact, havin’ yo baby.

You may be asking yourself, “Okay, cool, but why, not-doctor-Jess?”

It all has to do with a little thing called the “Luteal phase”.

HERE’S A PICTURE OF A MENSTRUAL CYCLE! It’s not icky or anything.

Note the arrows at the top indicating the “Follicular phase” and the “Luteal phase”. I’m not going to get into all the hormones and what they do, if you are interested you can do some further reading. A basic breakdown of what’s going on here: Lady’s just had her period at the start of the follicular phase (which we’ll refer to from here on as FP). An egg pops out of one of her ovaries in a special new sack. It does its thing, and about halfway through the cycle, the egg pops out of its sack. This is ovulation.

A woman can only get pregnant when she is ovulating. Ovulation only lasts one or two days. The tricky part is that sperm can last in the woman’s body for up to five days, but ONLY IF FERTILE CERVICAL FLUID IS PRESENT. Fertile cervical fluid is generally only present during days before ovulation. Once ovulation occurs, the egg disintegrates after twenty-four hours, and the fertile cervical fluid dries up.

We now enter the luteal phase (LP)! During the LP, there is typically no fertile cervical fluid present. This means any sperm that get in will die within hours. It also means there is no egg present, and that means, no way to make a baby.

Listen up, because this part’s important: The FP can span any length of time, one week, twenty days, fifty days, a friggen’ year, whatever. The LP, the time when it’s virtually impossible for a woman to conceive, is always the same length of time. And it always occurs before a woman’s period. It may vary in length between women, but it’s typically about two weeks.

Another point of note is that even if she did get knocked up, if the LP is less than ten days, it’s not enough time for the egg to implant, and it naturally aborts itself. Normally, twelve days are required for all the right conditions to occur to produce a baby. So it’s pretty much impossible to tell if you are pregnant or not until your LP has extended past that 12 day mark.

So, if it’s been less than two weeks since you guys did the nasty, and she’s claiming a late period? She may be trying to scare tactic you into something. Use this information to be aware and informed. You probably now know more about what’s going on in her body than she does.

*One final and very serious note: Everyone’s circumstances are different, and this is not intended to diagnose anything, or determine pregnancy. If there’s genuine concern, and you’re in genuine trouble, seek the advice of a health professional.

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Today Green and I WENT FOR A WALK. (And Other Things I’m Grateful For)

So a few years back when I was feeling like things couldn’t possibly get much worse than being forced to sit in a tiny square for nine hours a day (which wasn’t really true, I had the Internet the WHOLE TIME and I got paid for it, so in reality, that was pretty awesome, except for the part where I had to spend nine hours a day pretending I wasn’t on the Internet), I used to make posts about the things I was grateful for because realizing how much you have is always a good thing.

I’ve been reading Jessica Mullen’s School of Life Design and she actually recommends doing this, and I forgot that I used to do it all the time before anyone ever told me to, and I think it would be a good idea to do again.

So here goes! Things I am super grateful for RIGHT NOW (in no particular order):

1. Green and I are working on spending less money, so instead of driving to the store around the corner, we walked to it. The sun was shining but it was not ungodly hot, it was actually quite pleasant, and we purchased some groceries and then walked home in a delightful mood.

2. Green is now cooking dinner while I read funny things on the Internet. ❀

3. I have THE INTERNET.

4. And FUNCTIONING APPENDAGES. Like fingers. And legs. And elbows.

5. We have a cat and it is very soft.

6. There's a roof above our head!

7. I have a car that can get me from point A to point B.

8. Yoga!

9. Hoops!

10. My first ever FAM chart shows that I am ovulating like a normal human lady, as I have experienced my first (recorded) THERMAL SHIFT!! (This is probably only exciting to me, but it doesn't mean I'm not going to post my chart when this cycle is over. So get PSYCHED FOR THAT.)

11. I can breathe! Air!

12. My feet work!

13. I HAVE THE INTERNET.

14. I got some Barnes & Noble gift cards that I got from work for doing a good job before I quit work because of how much time they spent telling me I don't do a good job, and I used them to purchase the new Tim Ferriss book and the new Rachel Brice DVD! They should be here any day now.

15. I’ve got NEW HOOP TAPE on the way!

16. I have a cell phone with which I can contact people I love!

17. I can SEE with my EYES!!!

18. I can HEAR with my EARS!!!!

19. I can type REALLY FAST.

20. YouTube! I love YouTube. It is on the INTERNET.

That is all for now. What are YOU grateful for? πŸ™‚

The Rhythm Method vs. the Fertility Awareness Method (THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING)

I’ve spent the past four days reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility, a book by Toni Weschler about the Fertility Awareness Method of birth control. I’ve been off birth control for eight days now, and have been charting my temperatures and cervical fluid each day.

In my reading and discussing my decision with people, I’ve realized that what I’ve always known as “Natural Family Planning”, a lot of people confuse with “The Rhythm Method”, something I vaguely remember my health teacher mentioning in this context: “A lot of people use this method of counting back from their periods but it DOESN’T WORK because EVERY WOMAN IS DIFFERENT and DON’T USE IT.” I’ve caught a little bit of flak and a little bit of concern from friends and strangers alike who don’t realize there’s a difference.

I’m going to say this in all caps so if you were confused, you won’t be anymore because CAPS mean IMPORTANT (and also yelling):

THE FERTILITY AWARENESS METHOD IS NOT THE RHYTHM METHOD.

It’s not even technically Natural Family Planning, although they are almost identical save for FAM allows use of a barrier during your fertile period.

What the Rhythm Method is:

The Rhythm Method “works” by counting backward from your period to predict when you will ovulate during your next cycle. You abstain from sex during this predicted ovulatory phase.

Why the Rhythm method is faulty:

The Rhythm Method assumes consistency from cycle to cycle. However, even women that have a typically consistent cycle can still have delayed ovulation due to stress and other factors. The Rhythm Method is based on assumptions and previous observations, not what is currently going on in your body. There is also no charting aside from keeping track of when your periods start.

What the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is:

FAM uses consistent observation and charting of three ovulation indicators to tell when in your cycle you are ovulating, close to ovulating, or finished ovulating. By tracking 1) your basal (waking) body temperature, 2) your cervical fluids, and 3) your cervical position, FAM tells you what is currently happening in your body.

This is the part where I rave about FAM for a while:

The thing about FAM is that it takes very little time (I take my temperature in the morning when I used to take my pill, I check my cervical fluid when I go to the bathroom, and I check my cervical position when I take a shower) but from just monitoring these few signs, you gain SO MUCH INFORMATION about what’s happening in your body. You can tell when you’re going to get your period, within a day. You can know whether or not you actually ovulated, or if your body only prepared for ovulation but delayed it. You have a much better awareness of potential gynecological problems, and if you need to talk to a doctor, you can go in informed rather than blind.

I’m barely scratching the surface here, but the point is, I am amazed they don’t teach this stuff in high school. Obviously it wouldn’t be smart to present it as birth control, but I think it’s unfair to deny women the right to know how to interpret the changes in their bodies. I mean, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of how the menstrual cycle worked, but I learned stuff I didn’t know by reading this book.

Heck, I learned how the pill works by recognizing the hormones it uses and their place in the menstrual cycle.

I’m excited to see how my first fully-charted cycle goes. They say that when you first come off the pill, your cycles may be a little wonky for a while, but I was only on the pill for not even a full three months after being off it for over a year, so who knows. I’m really trying to resist the urge to force all of my girlfriends to chart with me so we can compare each other’s charts*. (I have already sort of done this to my friend Megan but SHE IS USED TO ME FORCING MY OBSESSIONS ON HER. I love you, Megan.) For the time being, I’m sating my desire to look at other people’s charts by looking at charts posted on the author’s website.

If you are a woman, I HIGHLY recommend you give FAM a look-see, even if you have no desire to use it as birth control or to get pregnant (which I didn’t talk about here, but it works just as well for getting pregnant as it does for avoiding it), simply because there are so many benefits to be gained just by knowing how your body’s a-tickin’.

If nothing else, I hope you’ve got a little clearer view of the difference between FAM and the Rhythm Method.

*That being said, if FAM piques your interest at all and you’d be willing to chart with me and compare and contrast charts, LET ME KNOW I am in my highly obsessive phase of learning something newβ„’ and I would love someone to obsess with. πŸ™‚