Thank you so much for your kind words of support and encouragement to my big announcement that I was FINALLY taking the necessary steps to get healthy. I appreciate it so much, because anyone who has ever had to lose weight, knows how difficult it can be. You also made me laugh after every single comment because pretty much everyone gave advice on eating. And that’s not where I’m starting. Sorry. #NotSorry.
Before I share why I chose exercise over food, I must confess a secret: I wrote that post almost three months ago. I’ve been getting my exercise routine locked and loaded since June but wasn’t ready to share until now.
Goals Should Be Rooted Before Sharing
I attended many self-help retreats in my early 30’s and one of my mentors taught me about balancing accountability while protecting your fragile goals. Goals are like seedlings, fragile when first planted and unable to withstand much of anything. But a deeply rooted plant can survive so much more, like naysayers, fear and scorn, even when you’re the naysayer.
While I am blessed with supportive readers, I wanted to feel confident that I wasn’t once again making a proclamation that I would either have to pretend I never said or admit to another failure. Given the success of the past few month, I do feel confident about my ability to achieve my goal of good health and am ready to publicly share my goal with you, including my successes and failures.
The Biggest Impact: Food or Exercise?
The answer is food or both with food making the biggest difference. I know this and yet I made the deliberate choice to start with exercise.
Food and I Have a Difficult Relationship
Some of my food difficulties are relatively simple: relearning portion size and what full versus stuffed feels like. Some will be harder because I love them so, like decreasing the amount of carbs, specifically potatoes, pasta and bread, I eat daily. And some are super duper hard and scary, like confronting my emotional eating.
Figuring out the why behind my eating (or to be more accurate, overstuffing myself) will be cathartic — a riddle solved and a weight lifted off my shoulders. While other times, I will resist and sink back into the black hole of despair.
I know this and it scares me. This is important work that will make a huge difference in my ability to become and stay healthy. And in order to do this, I needed to get strong first.
Physically and Mentally Strong Win the Day
I have never been a physically strong. My work is not physical, nor are my hobbies. But my brain is sharp and a source of great pride to me until it turned on me. My depression left me both physically and mentally weak, and I remain bitterly hurt and angry that my prized brain betrayed me. How it not only robbed me of my joy but also my confidence in myself. While I consider myself to be in recovery, a potential relapse is always on the horizon. And unpacking those secrets you hide within yourself (whether true or false, you still believed them) can be incredibly triggering and yet necessary work.
It may not be possible to ever completely avoid a relapse, but my ability to fight against the numbness, to not cave in when things get tough, requires me to be both physically and mentally strong. To see the lies and to differentiate between a truth (even a hard one) versus a depression lie that leaves me munching on potato chips.
Plus, those happy endorphins do exist. And do make a difference.
And Really, It’s about Me, Not You.
I knew putting exercise first might raise an eyebrow or two in the peanut gallery. But I don’t care. This is about me and what makes sense for me. Just as you should do what makes sense for you, even if flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I feel good about my decision because I am physically and mentally stronger. One of my very best, recent days occurred after my first workout and how strong and proud I felt. How I was ready to do it again. And my second best day happened when I realized my workouts had become automatic. I just did them. Something I never believed would ever happen to me.
Gotta Burn, Burn Those Calories
I originally planned to also share how I — an avowed exercise hater — managed to successfully implement a workout schedule, but then this post would feel like a million words long, so we’ll save it for next week. Just know that I’m burning up those calories as I put the pieces together to tackle food next.
What are some of your favorite exercises? If you have any recommendations for videos (DVD or YouTube is fine), please share them as well. Right now I’m too self-conscious to take classes, so things I can do from home is preferred.