Periods, Books, and Photoshop

Nothing can put a wrench in a healthy eating strategy like that time-of-the-month.

I recently stopped taking Topimax as a preventative medicine for my migraines. For the pills to work, I was up to needing three a day. I started noticing it was making me lose my train of thought mid-sentence way too often.  So, I stopped taking them. My gynecologist suggested that another possible solution would be backing up my birth control pills every month (i.e., not having a period at all). Since my doctors believe that my headaches are somehow related to my cycle (my neurologist actually calls them ‘menstrual migraines’), the idea is that if I don’t have a drop in my hormones right before I’m supposed to have a period, I won’t get the headaches. I tried this for the past couple of months, but all that happened was it made me feel like I was PMSing for five weeks straight. And I still had migraines. So I put the kibosh on that, too. If I have to choose between occasional headaches and feeling constantly bloated, you bet my priorities-twisted ass will just deal with the violent, head-splitting pain in order to drop a few pounds.

My first cycle back, though, has included chocolate cravings that can only be characterized as ‘obnoxious’ and way-worse-than-usual cramping (it feels like there are three little elves inside me, using my uterus as a punching bag. Why are there three elves, exactly? I don’t know. Ask them. Maybe they’re in training for something).

The good thing about my current state of attempting mindfulness, is that I am being (for once in my life) pretty forgiving to myself for the current 72-hours (as of yet) worth of slip ups. “Oh, you want to eat two nutella crepes for breakfast today instead of perhaps enjoying some of the bountiful amount of fresh fruit you have on the other side of your kitchen? Alright, Haley. But only because your hoo-ha hurts so badly.”

I fully intended to post something tonight about how I need to get more stringent with my 30-day plan, but the truth of the matter is I think I am doing alright. Actually, with the exception of the whole ‘being-a-woman’ thing, I am doing quite well. I have noticed there is a marked difference in how mindful I am depending on whether I am eating alone or in front of other people. I think most of that is just the issue of being distracted. I was planning on saying I need to restrict myself to just eating at home, alone, for the next 30 days in order to explore this more, but now that I’m here (writing this), I’m wondering if maybe I should really work from the get-go on being more conscious of my eating habits when I am out at restaurants and eating in front of company, too. I mean, it is all part of the same disease, right? I guess I don’t need to decide right now anyways. The next time an invitation comes up, I will consider what type of mood I’m in and I will take it on a case-by-case basis. Less Nazi-like self-inflicted restrictions, more love. That’s what I need for the time being.

Part of me being comfortable saying this, without needing some great Plan, is this blog. I know I am ready this time. I know I can screw up one meal and be eager to be back on track for the very next. Another part of it is finally understanding how much support I have out there. I’ve truly been overwhelmed by the people who have been reaching out to me to share their stories and send their well wishes. I think I already mentioned this in my last post, but it bears repeating.

Some of my friends have suggested further reading that I want to, in turn, share with all of you. I have not read these yet myself, but they are all on my short list. Most (but not all) of these books fall into the category of ‘spiritual’ guidance, which is right up my alley. I fully acknowledge that might not be what all of you are looking for, so if some of you have other suggestions- send them my way and I’ll pass those on, too. But for my like-minded friends, if you want to check these out just click on the link to learn more:

A Course in Weight Loss, by Marianne Williamson  It’s less important how quickly you lose weight, and more important how holistically you lose weight; you want your mind, your emotions, and your body to all ‘lose weight.’ Weight that disappears from your body but not from your soul is simply recycling outward for a while but is almost certain to return.

The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck A menu of ten behaviors you can add to your way of living and thinking to enhance every day’s journey through the unpredictable terrain of your existence. You can add these behaviors gradually and watch your life become steadily more vivid and satisfying. Or you can go on a “crash Joy Diet” to help you navigate life’s emergencies.

Do I look fat in this?, by Rhonda Britten  With Rhonda’s encouragement and advice, people can find the courage and inspiration they need to move from disliking their bodies to celebrating them, from seeing them as objects of shame to considering them their own best friends.


And as for some of my own favorite reads dealing with eating disorders and body image issues (these are all Haley-tested and approved):

Women, Food and God, by Geneen Roth From the book: “The writer Natalie Goldberg says that we are always practicing something and most of us are practicing suffering. WHy not practice ending your suffering instead of perpetuating it? Since you are eating anyway, moving around in your body anyway, being aware of something anyway, why not spend that time waking yourself up instead of deadening yourself? Is there anything better to do with a life?”

Unbearable Lightness, Portia De Rossi If one of the most beautiful women in the world can have body image issues, it makes me feel a little less alone in my battle. De Rossi tells a charming story about how her and Ellen met- it’s a nice reminder about how our own body image might not always amount to what everyone else’s is. 

Pocket Peace by Allan Lokos This book isn’t about food issues, per se, but it is chalk full of good advice on how to live a more mindful existence. The subtitle is “Effective Practices for Englightened Living”

Hunger Speaks, Carolyn Jennings This is a book of poems my friend Deb passed on to me. I fully intend on paying the book forward at some point (with Deb’s permission), after I fully absorb everything I need from it. If you are interested in using poetry as a healing tool, let me know and I may pass it on to you! Here is one of my favorites from the collection:

Breaking Trail

It begins with a nibble to the ears
of the chocolate bunny, harmless
little midday pleasure
or reward or break or
private celebration or some small something.

It ends with nothing
but a fistful of pastel foil.

And no one quite there
to taste
the ripped-off chunks in between.

But someone left here
with a queasy mind
and stomach; watching
what I can’t explain:

this girl
who needs more,
this girl, quiet as a viper and as
quick, this girl who prickles just under my
skin, the girl, hollow

who knows only two things:
comfort and then
the need

for more:
next, next, later, when? what? where? how soon?


Julia Bluhm, taking matters into her own hands.

I’d like to close my post today by talking about my new personal hero, Julia Bluhm. She is a 14-year-old 8th grader  who, with the help of some friends, has led a petition against Seventeen magazine and their use of photoshop and airbrushing teen models. It currently has collected over 84,000 signatures. Seventeen’s editor included a “Body Peace Treaty” in their most recent issue, where they vow to never photoshop a model’s body or face (they claim they never have).

Here is where you can find the original petition Bluhm posted on

She’s already on her next assignment; getting Teen Vogue to stop using digitally doctored images as well.

At some point I will write a more in-depth post about this specific issue. After all, like no other time in history, I think our culture is specifically responsible for making women feel uncomfortable and undesirable in their own skin. But for now, let’s just let it be known that I am in full support and total admiration of this brave little mini-conquerer.

Bluhm is front and center.

One response to “Periods, Books, and Photoshop

  1. Geanie

    You rock Haley White! I ❤ you.

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