Because of my health issues I have had to experiment a lot with my diet and exercise, so I go into semi-strict regimes to see if something works. I say “semi-strict” because I know of people who are really strict on everything they do, and my notch is lower than those standards. It is still pretty strict though. For example, recently I experimented eating really low carb – based on the theory that migraines are caused by oxidative stress and abnormal glucose metabolism. We can argue that the oxidative stress causes the abnormal glucose metabolism or vice versa, or maybe they both contribute to each other, but at this point it doesn’t really matter.
So I logged my food to keep an eye on my macro-nutrients, and I did this everyday without fail for approximately the past 3 months. I eat anything from 20g to 50+g of carbs, so this is why I say it is semi-strict not strict, because serious keto eaters will keep their carbs below 20g.
The good news is I managed to have no migraine or weird head discomfort (if I don’t get migraines sometimes I get giddy or weird uncomfortable sensations in my head) in my last menstrual cycle. None: during my period, during ovulation, during PMS. It is the first time in many many cycles that I am migraine free without the aid of traditional chinese medicine. It probably also helped that I skipped any form of strenuous exercise during my luteal phase to avoid putting my body under more oxidative stress.
The bad news is now I have an ongoing rash and I am also semi-sleep deprived from a couple of nights of insomnia that was triggered by cortisol-fuelled adrenaline jolts. Apparently the liver needs cortisol to make glucose from either fat or protein when we don’t have a source of carbs. Each time cortisol is released there would be an adrenaline surge, which wakes me up. So technically the fact that we don’t need carbs in our diet is true, but I think this is mildly stressful for the body, which is probably fine for people with normal bodies but mine was already fragile prior to this.
I think I was also doing too much at the same time because I was also intermittently fasting (so my body can rest and repair without having to digest food) and exercising during my follicular phase (which I am in now), so my body probably has increased energetic needs. I think I am still not in tune with my body, so I am not very good at knowing when to increase my food intake, or when to stop fasting. When I am in phases like this I tend to go all the way, partially because these things feed on each other. It is much easier to intermittently fast when one is eating low carb as there are less hunger cravings without massive blood sugar fluctuations. I hardly feel hunger despite the cortisol surges not allowing me to sleep well at night.
I think to be capable of being flexible when it comes to regimes and routines is a skill. It is much easier to do the same thing everyday for me, because I don’t have to think or wonder. But the body doesn’t function the same way everyday, especially for menstruating human beings. It is subject to pretty extreme hormonal swings every single month. So maybe my body seems okay with this for some days of the month, but probably not everyday. I just haven’t figured out when.
But this is not just about my diet. I tend to be like this for everything else in my life. There is this desire for everyday to be the same: I want every day to be spent well and feel meaningful to me. Yet reality is often messy, fluctuates like my hormones, and there will be good, bad, and neutral days. I feel bad when I languish and then it becomes this vicious cycle as I berate myself for languishing when time is finite, and all the negative self-talk makes me languish even more.
People think relationships are just between people. But for me the ones that really define the quality of my life is my relationships with the elements: time, space, my routine, my habits, my psyche if that can be considered somewhat elementish. I mean relationships with people are vital, but these other relationships impact my relationships with people heavily.
There is an inner-manager managing my self, and I don’t have a good relationship with that manager (lol). In general I don’t have good relationships with anyone attempting to manage me.
I feel like I am walking in the dark. As I lamented in my last post we’re taught to exist in a industrialised society where repetition and strict routines are rewarded. No one taught me how to exist with my menstrual cycle without falling ill, no one teaches that life is actually dynamic and we have to learn to live with that dynamism, else things would start falling apart internally.
I get tired of policing myself, so I tend to give up and start doing whatever I feel like – which many a time doing whatever I “feel” like may not be healthy for me. Lots of feelings are just cravings for instant gratification and avoidance. I lapse, start eating whatever I want, stop exercising regularly because I am tired of the word “regular” – my migraines and many other issues return with a vengeance.
I am either living extremely healthily or not, feels like I don’t know how to exist in a moderate state where some days I keep an eye on myself and some days I give myself a break. I am terrified giving myself a break would cause me to lapse (yes I know I sound like an addict: I am probably addicted to instant gratification especially with food), so I police myself into harder, which ironically makes it more likely for me to have an unhealthy lapse later.
I do feel like I am improving over the years. Like this is the first time I am cooking for myself for such an extended period. Cooking for myself used to feel terrible, now I enjoy it. So this time it isn’t the fatigue from forcing myself to eat my horrible cooking, but rather I can’t deal with the rashes and insomnia.
But the improvement is slow, and takes place over many many cycles of trial and error. I am not very good at the error part. Each time there are errors I feel like I’ve failed (thanks, industrialised society). Failing makes me not want to try again, so I go on a longer lapse and get tortured by my unhealthy body.
I feel like there is some middle sustainable way that exists. I just don’t know how long it’ll take for me to find it. Being afraid to get migraines is also causing me to become extremely cautious when it comes to experimentation. I’ve been wanting to add strength training to my regime, but I am worried about the stress on my body. But without training it endure stress it will just continue to be fragile.
In life it is important to know how to meet ourselves where we are. I don’t really know where I am, and I guess despite my fears I will need to endure the errors and the migraines if I want to get to know the boundaries of my body better.