Deepening my relationship with my cycle has helped me fall in love with my body, more than any other tool or practice I’ve tried.
I used to count calories, and have rigid rules around what – and how much – I ate. I’d exercise every single day, heading to the same group fitness classes every week without regard for my body’s desires or energy levels. My size and weight deeply affected my sense of self worth, and my movement and nutrition choices were made from a place of fear instead of love.
As a teenager, I had body dysmorphia. My rigid rules around food and exercise, which I thought were ‘healthy’ choices, saw my weight drop to just 41kg. I’m only 5”1, but my healthy weight is somewhere closer to 50 – 55kg. I had no perception of how underweight I was, until I saw that number on the scale in the doctor’s clinic. Now, I look back on photos of myself at 17 and wonder how the version of my body I saw in the mirror was so different to the one I actually inhabited.
Every time I went to the bathroom, I’d engage in compulsive body checking behaviours like looking at my belly in the mirror to see how flat it was. I didn’t even realise that ‘body checking’ was a thing, until I heard the term last year and realised that somewhere in my early twenties I’d finally stopped doing it.
I was completely disconnected from my body and what she needed. Years of being on the Pill had allowed me to go months without paying any attention to my period (which was in fact a pill bleed, and not a real period at all!) I saw my cycle as a total inconvenience, and a minefield of premenstrual symptoms that I felt powerless to do anything about.
Coming off the Pill and reconnecting with my cycle has been such a powerful healing journey for me.
I’ve learned how to listen closely to my body, and honour her needs with loving kindness. I know now that I am a different woman each day of my cycle; and that embracing my feminine, cyclical rhythms is a gift to myself and the world.
Some days my body wants to do a HIIT work out, and some days she wants to rest deeply. Some days she’s best nourished with a salad, and some days she just wants a bowl of homemade sweet potato chips. When I’m ovulating, I feel lean and light. When I’m about to bleed, my womb feels heavy and tender. Learning about my cycle has taught me that all of these things are completely normal!
I’ve learned to check in, moment by moment, with what my body and soul need most. I’ve learned to honour those needs – for the most part – without guilt or judgement. I know that my worthiness does not diminish if I skip a workout, or eat a plate of potatoes, or feel bloated win the days before my period.
I know that my worthiness does not diminish if I skip a workout, or eat a plate of potatoes, or feel bloated on the days before my period.
I can’t remember the last time I stepped on a set of scales, counted calories or pinched my hips to see if I was ‘slim enough.’ These days, I’m in complete awe of my body and her cycles. The more I learn about the female body, the more I bow in reverence of her wisdom and intelligence.
For the last few years, each cycle has gifted me an opportunity to shed the fear, the deprivation and the disconnection. Now, my relationship with my body is one of devotion, respect and honouring. I flow with her rhythms, trust her wisdom, and nourish her with love and gratitude. I’m at home in my own skin, embodied and connected.
Of all the gifts I’ve received from my cycle awareness practice, this is one of the most potent and precious.