Ever promise yourself you’d cut down on sugary or fatty foods, then when you passed doughnuts in the supermarket or opened a kitchen cabinet door and saw cookies, you heard a little voice from inside your head tell you, “Go ahead and eat it. You’ve been good. You earned this!”
And you had to tell that little voice to shut the #$%! up because you’re sticking to your guns and not eating the unhealthy food because you want to lower your blood pressure or help your heart or lose excess pounds?
Or have you ever been working on an important project that had a pressing deadline, but you heard a little voice from inside in your head tell you, “Take a break already! Your favorite band is playing/you haven’t seen your friends in days/I heard they’re giving away free cupcakes at a cupcake competition downtown!”
And you had to tell that little voice to shut the #$%! up because you know this project is more important than flaking out right now–and there will be plenty of time for fun when it’s completed?
Well, there are times when you’re going to have to tell your hormones to shut the #$%! up because they don’t always know what’s best for you.
I was thinking about this today as I took a walk around my neighborhood. Ever since throwing out my back a few weeks ago–and, boy, I threw it out good!–I’ve been slowly easing it back into shape.
I have multiple problems with my back–a herniated disc on one side, a bulging disc on the other and misaligned vertebrae right down the middle–so I’ve been through this routine before. I know that when I mess it up, the key to getting it back to normal is to go s-l-o-w. Otherwise, I’ll make the pain so much worse and be stuck in bed lying on an ice pad and won’t be able to move or work. (Or sleep or sit or stand or bend low enough to shave my legs….)
So, I’m up to the point in my rehab where I’m walking. And, I was enjoying the beautiful morning and taking things s-l-o-w when I heard a little voice from inside my head tell me, “Why don’t you double the distance you walk today? Go all the way to that cute park in Kenwood, you know, the one with the gazebo, then do a bonus loop around it. And, hey, why don’t you speed up a little, too–you can do this!”
And, at first I thought, “Hey, yeah, that sounds like a great plan. I bet I’m up to doubling my distance and going faster!”
Then, I remembered all the former times I’d thrown out my back and tried to push it before it was ready. And visions of wasted hours spent lying flat on an ice pad without being able to move, work or sleep came flooding into my brain.
And, then I thought about where this little voice pushing me to go farther and faster was coming from–and it hit me: It was my Week 2 high estrogen revving my optimism and confidence into totally unrealistic territories.
So, I told my hormones to shut the #$%! up and that I knew better than they did on this situation. And, then I headed home.
And, I’m so glad I did. By the last block, my left leg was limping and my lower back was aching. If I’d tried a longer, speedier route, I would have had to call Douglas to come pick me up for sure.
I’m sharing this story with you today because there are going to be times when you’re going to know better than your hormones. And, you’re going to have to tell your hormones to shut the #$%! up.
That’s because your hormones have one goal in mind: to procreate. Yep, all those many effects hormones have on your mood, brain, energy and other aspects are about making a baby. For instance, you’re more outgoing and energetic in the first half of your cycle to attract a mate in time for ovulation. You’re quieter and more cautious in the second half of your cycle in case you got pregnant during ovulation.
It just so happens that these many hormone-fueled baby-making effects impact the rest of our lives–our careers, friendships, goals, the clubs we join, etc.
On one hand, this is a good thing–because we can capitalize on hormone-fueled benefits, like tackling big projects on energetic high-estrogen days.
On the other hand, it means your hormones don’t really care about your other goals and needs. They’re just going to keep on pushing their own agenda.
This means that when my Week 2 high estrogen is revving my optimism and confidence, it’s doing this so I’ll be more likely to approach a potential mate for procreating. The side effect is that this hormone is making me more optimistic and confident about EVERYTHING–including how far and fast to push my back.
The good news is that when you’re aware your hormones are behind some of your impulses, you have more control. You’ll be able to decide consciously whether or not it’s the right impulse to act on.
This is why I’m telling you today to listen to your hormones. If you’re getting an impulse to do something that doesn’t align completely with your goals or needs (say, you’re getting the impulse to spend money when you’re trying to save up, to abandon work when you have an important deadline or to push your injured back harder than you think it could safely go), consider where you are in your cycle.
If you realize the impulse is coming from your hormones and it’s not the right move for you to make, then say, “Shut the #$%! up, hormones!”
Then, do what you really need to be doing. This morning, I’m glad I did.
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[Photo: Guila van Pelt]