Little Aja Does Not Run

A long time ago, well, not too long ago but it seems like a long time ago, I was not into fitness. I went to the top sports middle school in my district. We never lost a game. They had to order extra space for our banners that display all the years we won the district competitions. We had a lot of school spirit and pride. But I was not into fitness at all. We had PE every day all 3 years, but I was not in the conditioning class. I did try out for volleyball one year, and ended up with the weirdest little purple polka-dot bruises, but not on the team. 

Every Monday and Friday were pure cardio days. We had our “fun run” on Mondays, and Fridays was always a choice day of what kind of cardio; pick your poison, if you will. We had about 5 gym teachers and each one would offer a different choice. One Friday in either 7th or 8th grade, I can’t quite remember, I was sitting with my friends and we’d decided to pick the tiny slope “hill” run being offered by our PE teacher. But for some reason I stood up when they said “hill run” with the top conditioning PE teacher and walked out the door, looking back at my friends like, “why are you still sitting? We agreed to do this!” and they looked at me like I had just signed my own death sentence. I didn’t realize until I was out the door that we were going to be running some of the steepest hills I had ever seen for the next thirty minutes. All the other conditioning students were out there with me, but I stayed behind with two other regular PE girls. The three of us puffed along, pushing ourselves harder than we had ever had in our short lives. The PE teacher hung back nicely encouraging us on. He had always seemed so tough before, but he was so kind and encouraging. I felt so comfortable despite being physically uncomfortable. 

I walked into the locker room after the end of the 30 minutes feeling exhausted and sweaty but awesome. My friends attacked me. They said I was crazy and they couldn’t believe I had done that. I couldn’t believe it either, but I had had so much fun. I was not as fit as the other kids but I had done it and I hadn’t died. But I felt compelled to express feelings that were not my own. I never offered to join the conditioning kids on Fridays ever again. 

At the beginning of 8th grade we had to run the mile, with the intention of running it again at the end of the year to see how we had progressed. I felt so exhilarated once we were done. I don’t remember my mile time, but I was having that wonderful runners high. Again my friends made fun of me, and when we got to the end of the year the PE teachers offered the mile as a Friday choice but no one was required to do it. Myself and my two guy friends ran it. My other non-fitness friends stayed in. I did improve from my last mile, but that’s not the point. I got that runners high again and felt amazing. 

At this point in my life my only forms of exercise came from PE and dancing in my room on the weekends. Once I went to high school PE stopped being mandatory (which is stupid) and I just had my weekend dancing, which didn’t stop me considering I got deep into my disorder at that time. But today I am a certified personal trainer who practices heavy lifting, running, HIIT, Pilates, and yoga. I still dance, too. That active girl was always in me, I just doubted my abilities. Now it’s a lifelong passion. 

Never let others hold you back from your passion. Most importantly, never let yourself hold you back from your passion. 

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I Belong to Me

On a similar strand from the last post, I’m going to talk today about my experience as being property as most women have been and still are treated. When I was younger and in school, and this might have more had to do with my incredible skill at being indecisive than the property thing, no one ever asked me what I wanted to do. I mean, my friends except for my best friends. They would always look to either the Actor or my best friends to say what I wanted to do. I learned to stick up for myself pretty quick after I realized this.

Then comes the topic of getting a father’s blessing for marriage. We didn’t. The Actor and I had discussed it beforehand, because let’s face it, we’d been together for 4 years by the time we got engaged. Marriage had come into conversation a fair amount of times. We decided that getting my father’s permission was unnecessary for a few reasons. One, I do/did not belong to my father. I am a person and people do not belong to anyone, so asking for his “permission” was unnecessary. Two, my father had made the decision to try and find new women and families to be a part of, thereby removing himself from ours. My brother and my mom can deny this fact all they want, but he made the decision to leave it on multiple occasions, and so I did not see any reason to ask his permission. If I “had” belonged to him before, I certainly didn’t once he’d made the decision to leave. We did however, ask for my mom’s blessing. I was her oldest child and only daughter. I had helped her through her separation as best as a 9-18 year old daughter could. We were very close, and so I thought that we should at least get her blessing. Not because I “belonged” to her, but because we had a very close relationship and me getting married would mean that our relationship was going to change slightly and I wanted her to be okay with that.

I think that in today’s progressive (well, unless the SCOTUS gets involved seeing as they just helped us regress a little with women’s reproductive rights) day and age that asking for a father’s permission is not really necessary anymore. Maybe you want to do it because it is tradition and that’s fine, but it most certainly isn’t required. You don’t need anyone’s permission to get married. Yes there are age restrictions and unfortunately not all states allow marriage between two people of the same sex yet, but we’re getting there.

As a person, especially as a woman, you do not belong to anyone. No one is in charge of telling you how to cut your hair or who to marry or what to do this weekend but you. You belong to no one but yourself. You and you alone are in charge of your life. If some insanity ever possesses me to have children in the future I know I’m not going to make them as for our permission or even our blessing to get married. If they want to dye their hair pink and shave half their head then I will help them with the razor and the dye box. If my son wants to wear a dress I will take him shopping for one. Just because I give birth to them does not make them mine. I will be in charge of their wellbeing until they are old enough to be in charge of that themselves, but that does not make them mine. My daughter will be free to be her own person and I will teach her that she belongs to herself and that no man (or woman) has any power over her and her life.

So to recap, I belong to me, you belong to you, no one can tell you how to live your life and if they try they better prepare for a world of hurt.

And happy Canada Day!

Do What You Want with Your Body

In 2008 I was very single. I was 15. I was a freshman in high school. I was ready to face my future, although at the time I was upset that I was being forced to decide on something that wasn’t going to happen for another 4 years, but that is beside the point. At the time I had two guys who liked me that I liked back romantically. One was an old friend from middle school, and the other was the Actor. We had a long winter break due to a weird amount of snow for western Washington and I spent that break on MySpace chatting with both Old Friend and the Actor. Old Friend and I hung out once over that break. I walked to his house in the snow and we spent the day playing video games, making snowmen, and making cookies. It was a fine time. As a side note, I think I left my cookies at his house because my ED was kicking in and I didn’t want to have sweets to tempt me at home, especially with the holidays so close. His parents drove me home in their 4 wheel drive car and that was that. I went out with the Actor on New Year’s Day a few weeks later. I have to admit that my heart was racing during most of the date and I was anxious and nervous but pleasantly excited. The day I’d spent with Old Friend I considered a play date, but this with the Actor was something completely different. It was the beginning, I’d hoped, of a long and wonderful courtship. We saw a movie and then got drinks at Starbucks where we sat and talked until the mall started to close.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some feelings for Old Friend at the time. We’d had three years in middle school to get to know one another and he was the first boy I could ever admit to have liking. But we never had a romantic relationship.

So I went into 2009 leaning toward the Actor, but holding on to Old Friend a bit. That all changed the day I cut my hair.

I chopped it all off, much like I just recently did. At least a foot of hair was chopped off and donated and I walked into school the next morning quite pleased with my new ‘do. I loved how light it felt and pretty I looked in the mirror. Old Friend was not pleased. I had mentioned wanting to cut my hair during our winter break play date and he told me quite certainly that he preferred girls with long hair. When he saw me that morning I could see the look of dissatisfaction with my new hair cut. I asked if he liked it. “No,” he said, “I like long hair on girls better.”

Now, I can’t say for certain that that was what sealed the deal on choosing who I was going to date, but it certainly helped. The Actor told me at every chance that he got just how much he liked my hair. I got multiple compliments from him on it in the first week after it was cut. The way the Actor and Old Friend reacted told me a lot about both guys. Old Friend wanted someone who would do and be what he wanted. The Actor was someone who would be comfortable with me doing whatever I wanted.

Because I didn’t cut my hair for either of them. I didn’t cut it in rebellion to Old Friend’s comment, and I didn’t cut it because I thought the Actor would like it. I cut it because I wanted it to be short. I cut my hair for me. And when I saw the Actor accepting me for me I knew he was the better guy to be with.

Girls have no obligation to dress or look a certain way to please a guy, and looking back, I am happy that at 15 I had already realized that. If you want to cut your hair do it. If you want to wear a certain outfit do it. It does not matter at all if a guy or girl or whoever does not like it because you are not doing it for them. You are doing it for you. And if someone does not like it, then they are not accepting you for who you are and are not worth your time.

IUD Diva: 1 Week Check-In

So I’ve had this thing for a week now and I have to say that I am LOVING IT! Kinda beating myself up for not switching sooner, honestly, but that’s a segway into a whole other post for a whole other day. The lower hormone dose is great. When I started the Pill about three years ago I was to the point of tears at least once a day over pretty much nothing. Now I’ve been in a pretty great mood every day up until last night, but that was because of random computer issues. Apparently right before finals is a good time for the touch pad to stop working. Thank goodness for my external mouse. Anyway, yes, I have been in a much better mood for every day since then. The computer thing would have put me in a bad mood regardless of whether I was on the IUD or the pill.

I have had minor cramping over the last week, but I would take 1 ibuprofen and that would fix it for the rest of the day. I haven’t really felt any cramps today, though, and those cramps were so minor compared to what I normally get the first 2-3 days of my period. I could at least walk with these cramps.

I haven’t felt moody. I’ve been in a really good mood probably because I’ve been in a really down mood for the past 3 years and now I just feel awesome. Checking the string the first few days was annoying, because I’ll be honest, I didn’t know that part of my body very well. Now I do know and it takes seconds to find the strings. You don’t have to check them every day but I am still dealing with anxiety and it just makes me feel better to know they’re still there. I imagine after a month or two my anxiety will subside and I’ll check them once a month.

All in all I’ve had a fantastic experience with it. It only lasts three years and I hear the removal process isn’t fun, but I survived the insertion, so I think I’ll be ok. I’ll have to get another one, and I don’t know now if I’ll get another Skyla or get the Mirena, but I have a 3 year window between 27 and 30 that we can try to have kids if we are ready at that point, and since the Skyla only lasts 3 years, I’ll need another one because I’m at the age that I can start actually trying to have kids.

So, I definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about birth control options. I didn’t even have trouble remembering to take the pill, I just wanted a change and getting the pill refills every month was always annoying. Don’t let the fear of insertion pain stop you. It’s literally like 2 minutes and then you’re done. And the IUD is really fantastic. Now, it’s not for everyone, but I have really bad periods which you would think would be a sign for me not to get one but I’m doing swell. I guess you just have to test it out, and if you do get one I hope your experience with it is as positive as mine. If you’re thinking of getting one feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the experience. I’m not an expert on the IUDs themselves, and the companies all have really informative websites you can look at for that stuff.

Exercise Addiction

 

I hope the video shows up, if not you can view it Here.

I had liked this on Tumblr a long time ago on my phone, probably when I was in class, with the intention of actually watching it when I got home, but never did until now. Watching it this morning made me realize just how far I have come. Without a doubt I had exercise addiction along with anorexia, and then it turned into pure exercise addiction, and I’m not gonna lie, I still have a bit of it. On Wednesday after getting my IUD in I sat at home for a while with the intention of going to the gym before my screenwriting club. The Actor asked me to make him a training program the week before so the hour I had before club was spent training him on proper form in between my own sets, which made it take a lot longer than usual. So, I only got through about half of my workout before club. I went to club and could not think of anything other than finishing my workout. As soon as the hour was up I got up and left even though everyone else was still in conversation about the screenplay we were going over that day. I went back to the gym and finished my workout before walking home. My uterus was not happy, but I did not care. I was going to finish my workout and that was that. I also still struggle with the idea of rest days. Yesterday was going to be my rest day, but instead I did random workouts I found online for a total of 30-40 minutes even though I wasn’t consistently working out for every second of those 30-40 minutes. I was mad at myself for not working out consistently, but the voice in my head that told me it was supposed to be my rest day was stronger than the voice in my head that told me to work out. Just not strong enough to keep that other voice silent. But, I only felt slightly guilty and it did not dwell on my mind as long as it has in the past.

I am not in as deep as the girl in the video. I used to be, but I’ve gotten better. Truly there are things on my body that I wish were different, but at the same time I love my body now. Now, after four years, I think I’ve developed a fairly healthy relationship with exercise. I understand now how to take care of yourself, how to build muscle, how to lose fat, how to maintain, the science behind it all. I think understanding the science behind it helped me kick the addiction a little bit more. I know that running for hours is not going to get me the body I want and that it’s not really going to help me. I know that eating too little is going to hurt me rather than help me. I know more now, and that’s really helped me a lot.

So, if anyone else is suffering from an ED or exercise addiction, first of all, know that you’re not alone. Second, seek some help no matter how much you think you don’t want it now. You’ll thank yourself later. Third, know that it absolutely does get better. I am closer to the “body of my dreams” now eating 1600-2000 calories a day and exercising 30-40 minutes 6-7 days a week than I was eating 800 calories a day and exercising 60-90 minutes 6 days a week. Exercising is important, but when it takes over your life and it isn’t about your health anymore that’s when it becomes dangerous. Love the body you have and strive to take care of it. Don’t strive to look like someone else. Be the best version of you that you can be.

Failure

“What do you think emotions are there for? Why do you think we have them?”

I’m not even gonna try to answer that. *sit in silence for 5 seconds, which is a long time when you think about it.*

“To be honest, I’m so afraid of getting it wrong that my mind isn’t even letting me come up with an answer.”

“What would it mean if you got it wrong?”

“That I failed. That I’m a failure.”

Just one question. One simple, little question in yesterday’s therapy session, and that is what it boiled down to. Failure because something I think is “wrong” and it doesn’t matter how the person I’m talking to reacts to it being wrong. They could sound a loud buzzer, they could twist their face a little, purse their lips, sigh, whatever. Any way that they indicate to me that I’m wrong will have the same effect on me as any other way. I will just know that I failed.

“I think you’re more critical of yourself than you realize.” She probably said this with the intention to inform and possibly validate, therefore comfort me, my feelings and experiences with anxiety, depression, perfection obsession, and my intense fear of abandonment. But I took this to mean I had failed. I had the same reaction when I was diagnosed with anorexia. I had failed. I had developed this disorder that is “bad” and so I failed. I had failed because I let other people find out about it, too. Two different levels of failure, but it still meant I had failed.

We are told so many things by our parents, families, friends, by society. I was told that feeling anything other than happy or content was bad. If you’re having a bad day you don’t tell anyone and pretend you’re having a good day. And even then, you can’t be having a great day because that would be rude to someone who isn’t having a great day. You stay in one middle ground emotional area. You’re not too happy, but you aren’t at all sad. And if you have any kind of disorder that is bad, and by extension means that you are bad. I’m not supposed to tell anyone I have/had an eating disorder. I’m not supposed to talk about my anxiety group, my years of struggle with depression, my need to be perfect (and that definition changes regularly), and certainly not about my almost debilitating fear of abandonment. Because that would mean I’m not a good person. Maybe not a “bad” person in the sense of how we think of “bad people” ie. criminals, but I’m certainly not a “good” person. I’m damaged. I have problems, and I should hide those problems.

We did a mindfulness exercise yesterday where I was supposed to go to my “safe place” and part of me was afraid I was doing it wrong.

Basically I cannot fail. If I fail that means I’m worthless, and if I’m worthless I have a much greater chance of being abandoned. I guess that’s kind of the equation that ties together all of my problems. I have anxiety about failing. Then if I fail I have more anxiety about what happens then. Which is also tied in with depression. Sometimes anorexia comes in there either as a solution or a cause. It doesn’t even matter if I don’t let anyone else down because my brain tells me I have no matter how many times they insist otherwise. And besides, I’ve let myself down. I don’t know if it can get much worse than that.

Stupid Anxiety

I wasn’t sure what to post today, so let’s talk about my recent identification of my anxiety problems. I’m really good at recognizing when I’m having an anxiety attack but I’m not so good about doing anything else about it.

I just read a thing on the internet about a ridiculously large amount of bees being found dead in Canada. And people commented about how important it is that we do something about that, but also how the major companies, *cough* Monsanto *cough* are huge contributors to the bees dying out and how the freaking government just has their back and isn’t doing shit to try and stop them. And also how we’d only have a few fucking years to live after all the bees died out. Which means us dying would have to come from something other than the ideal way to die: in your sleep when you’re like 100 years old. It made me mad at first and then I just really freaked out, and I still am. How is something so important and so huge as this not being taken care of? And why does Monsanto and greedy government officials making more money than they know what to do with more important than the lives of pretty much everyone on the freaking planet? What about my life? I fight every day through my depression, ED, anxiety, and other issues just to keep living, but because there is less money in keeping people alive than there is in killing them I’m going to have to die? And maybe I’m not as informed about this as I could be. Perhaps, while it is definitely concerning and something we should be working on, it isn’t as scary as I think it is.

But that doesn’t matter. Because I go into full on panic mode and it takes a heck of a lot of explaining, rationalizing, and reassuring for me to calm down, and even then it takes at least a day before I can comfortably say I’m okay again. Sometimes the attacks get so bad that I can’t breathe, like they did at work one day last quarter and I had to leave. Sometimes they’re fairly mild but last several times longer than the ones where I can’t breathe.

And it really bothers me that I’ve done so well in my anorexia recovery only to uncover new problems with anxiety. Maybe this would have happened anyway. It certainly kicked up after my mom’s cardiac arrest. I live every day with this huge weight of fear on my shoulders that I could just drop down dead someday without any warning whatsoever. My mom and the Actor keep telling me they don’t think it’s going to happen to me but that’s a pretty big fucking link, mother-daughter. And we don’t know what caused it so there is absolutely no way to prevent it. Ever since then my anxiety has skyrocketed.

I have therapy and my anxiety group back-to-back every Tuesday for the next eight weeks starting the 15th. I really hope the anxiety group helps. Therapy is going well. We’re past all the history and moving on to working through specific things now. I just hope that someday I will be able to live without any of this stuff bothering me like it does now.