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Two years ago, my husband and I joined a Crossfit gym. Our desk jobs left us desperate for activity, so at the time it just seemed like the thing to do. Yet something didn’t feel right to me. Sure, I was getting stronger physically, but I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring down my face after each workout. I was constantly starving, and my body would seize up with pain despite following a mostly paleo diet. It’s all part of it, though. We were a community and we told each other to push harder, lift heavier, and hey, a little puking never hurt anyone. In fact, we loooved it when people puked. It meant they worked hard, they were strong, PRIMAL. We were warriors.
But we were missing a key piece of the puzzle. The paleo lifestyle means following in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors. And sure, ancient hunter-gather societies meant surviving off of (what else?) hunting and gathering. Men were hunters, warriors! But what about women? Women weren’t out running, hunting, and beating their chests with the men. They stayed at home to raise the next generation; to feed, clothe, and heal the tribe. They were revered as mothers, nurturers, goddesses. Yet somehow when cavemen made their way to modern society something got lost in translation. We focused on the warrior archetype and forgot about the goddess.
With paleo communities on the rise, women everywhere suddenly need six-pack abs and the ability to carry a sandbag across a parking lot. Why? We’d lost something in ourselves. We forgot that innate, previously revered ability we have as women to nurture and care for one another. We no longer value qualities such as emotion and compassion and focus instead on strength and stoicism. We view tears as signs of weakness and feel bad when our husbands have to put up with us during our menstrual cycles. We value testosterone and criticize estrogen. In short, we want to be more like men, less like women.
This might seem a little out there emotionally. As women, our bodies have very different needs from men, and when we take a masculine approach to exercise, our reproductive organs suffer. Christiane Northrup, a longtime OB-GYN and holistic healer, points out in her famed book, Women’s Health, Women’s Wisdom, that most gynecological, reproductive, or hormonal imbalances stem from emotional baggage we carry associated with a woman’s femininity.
Have you ever experienced irregular or absent menstrual cycles as a result of a physically intense lifestyle? Ever struggled with ovarian cysts or the ebbs and flows of hormonal imbalance, including emotional outbreaks, irritability or PMS? Ever suffered from chronic PCOS or endometriosis?
It’s hard to be a woman today. We don’t think it is. Not on the surface anyway. But deep down there is still an underlying current that man is revered, woman is secondary. That’s why we need to remember our virility. We need to remember that while men are the warriors, women are the goddesses. We are sacred, abundant, necessary. Men are a vibrant and beautiful force in this world, and we need their tenacity, their yang. But we also need women, their caring, their yin. We are connected, spiritual, vital. We are the bringers of life!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to ditch Crossfit or give up paleo. The primal lifestyle has worked wonders with people all over the country! I’m simply asking you to stop trying so hard to be a warrior and start embracing your inner goddess. You are a divine being, and how you think about your sexuality, fertility, body, and menstrual cycles greatly affects your health!
What beliefs do you hold about your cycle, your sex drive, your desire for children or your view on womanhood? How does that relate to the symptoms you are experiencing?