10LBS – 5KGS!
Nah honey, not today – that can’t run.
Rewind 8 months and for the first time in my life, I was unconditionally in love with myself – mind, body and spirit: I was happy and comfortable in my skin. I felt unstoppable. Jaycee and I were about to jet off to Cape Verde, and best believe, I was ready to bask in the tropics, get my tan on and glow!
I had started taking the pill around a week before we flew out, cause let’s be real; no woman wants to be on their period and feeling bloated whilst trying to look cute in a bikini. No suhhhh. So, the obvious solution was the pill. I mean, doctors have been prescribing the pill to girls as young as 11 for years to help with everything from regulating periods to dealing with acne – so no harm right?
Turns out I was wrong…
On reflection, I probably should have listened to my mum when she warned me about the dangers of the pill when I was taking it at 16. But you know what they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I guess I was pretty disillusioned in thinking that taking any form of synthetic or unnatural substance could be beneficial in any way.
The pill wreaked absolute havoc on my body and more importantly my mind. Before I had started taking it, I was getting regular exercise, practising yoga and meditating on a daily basis – so I guess you could say, I was pretty ‘zen’. I was ridiculously happy, my life was good and it was great. Within a few weeks of taking the pill, that all changed, real quick. I began feeling ‘down’ and ‘low’ for no apparent reason; I was having mood swings and felt insecure constantly. I couldn’t figure out what was going on – I knew that this wasn’t normal behaviour for me and I genuinely thought that I was going crazy. I can’t even begin to tell you some of the wild and outrageous thought processes that I found myself having. It was a lot (to say the least). I was in this vicious flux of self-pity, neediness and was hypersensitive. I was withdrawn, all of the time; I would just sit there in silence staring into space – it was a joke. I remember Jaycee used to be like ‘what the f**k is going on’ because it was such a sudden and drastic change in my behaviour, that neither of us could explain. (I’m literally rolling my eyes whilst writing this and thinking back to how crazy it all was).
And then, there was the weight gain – oh lard, say it ain’t so.
I gained 10lbs out of nowhere. I know you’re all thinking, ‘no, it can’t have been out of nowhere’ or ‘you must have changed something’. But believe me when I tell you, that the only thing I had changed in my diet or routine was the pill. Man, I thought the world was ending. I had worked so hard and had literally shed blood, sweat and tears to get into shape. So from all of that, to gaining 10lbs: I was feeling like a baby hippo for real (forgive the dramatics but the pill had made me hypersensitive so work with me here). It was quite honestly a lightbulb moment when I realised that the only thing that could explain all of these changes was the pill. Needless to say, upon that discovery, I immediately stopped taking it.
Within a few weeks of coming off the pill, I regained my sanity and let me tell you, it felt like a gift from the Gods’! Though, whilst I had my mind back (and felt fabulous), my body was still not responding to me. It was so beyond frustrating, I was training harder than I had ever trained before (and smashing PB’s – shout out Jaycee for pushing me to my absolute limits or rather, for showing me that limit’s do not exist) but despite everything that I tried, I still couldn’t shift the weight. Make no mistake, Jaycee had me doing mad shit in the gym and I was close to tears many a time but nothing I did made a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I was of course fitter and healthier but in terms of the actual 10lbs I had gained, I was at a loss.
It took months for the pill to work its way out of my system, and finally in around October, my body started to respond to me again and it was the best feeling in the world. Without trying to sound dramatic, the whole experience left me traumatised (ok, a tad dramatic) and to be honest, extremely shocked that such a tiny pill could have such a huge impact. I hated the feeling of not having control of what was going on in my mind and in my body. It felt as though I was simply ‘present’ but somebody else was in the driving seat and that’s not a position you should ever willingly put yourself in.
Around 150million women worldwide take the contraceptive pill, but do we as women (myself included) actually take time to stop and consider the effects that it has on our bodies? Most contraceptive pills contain very high levels of synthetic estrogen that basically convince your body that you are pregnant (which can actually explain some of the side effects). For example, a lot of women experience; weight gain, slight nausea, mood swings, emotional sensitivity, breast tenderness, decreased libido and reduced/increased acne whilst taking the pill.
As if that’s not enough and even more scarily, the pill can have serious health implications. By taking the pill you’re putting yourself at an increased risk of cervical and breast cancers as well as heart attacks and strokes. As well as that, you’re more susceptible to high blood pressure, yeast infections, infertility issues, gall bladder disease, migraines and decreased bone density (the list goes on and trust me, it’s a long one).
A lot of these issues stem down to the fact that the pill contains high levels of synthetic estrogen. You’re probably thinking, ‘hold on a minute Jasmine, estrogen is the female growth hormone and it’s good for you’ and it is good for you, but only when it is in correct balance with testosterone. When you have estrogen dominance within your body, you can experience things like chronic fatigue, loss of drive: sexually and in daily life, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Interestingly, all of these symptoms are in line with those of taking the contraceptive pill. It’s so important to recognise that high levels of estrogen are extremely dangerous and can cause fibroids and in severe cases, even cancer (obviously these are extreme cases of estrogen dominance).
Whilst it’s normal to have estrogen in your body, in simple terms, an excess of it can really mess you up and having been down that path myself, I ain’t looking to go down there again.
To be honest, it’s pretty hard to escape estrogen altogether in our highly industrialised world; pesticides, herbicides and parabens all contain estrogen mimicking properties and so do a lot of foods that we consume. This means, it’s even more important to pay attention to the foods that we’re putting into our bodies and take some responsibility for what it is that we are actually consuming. To name a few, processed foods high in sugar and carbs, meats, dairy, legumes, flax seeds, carrots and soya (soya in particular is marketed as a health food, but is genetically modified and bad for you!) are all extremely high in estrogen. I can’t lie, I used to love myself a bit of soya but I can’t even begin to tell you the benefits I’ve seen in my body and overall health since actively avoiding it.
I guess in essence, what you choose to put to into your body is a choice that is entirely yours, and rightly so. I know that a lot of women take the pill for lack of other options available to them but I also think it’s really important that we are conscious of what it is that these substances are doing to our bodies. We must educate ourselves as much as possible about what it is that we are allowing into our space, what is being prescribed to us and why it is that we don’t question it? Though, I fully respect that it is an incredibly personal and individual choice for every woman, the pill well and truly messed up my body so I can safely say that I will never take it again. If you do decide to take steps to lower your estrogen levels, aside from coming off the pill, consuming things like maca and milk thistle can really help to detoxify your body and boost your reproductive health. The choice is always yours – health is wealth people.
-‘Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live’
– Jasmine Reinah