About seven months ago a rather drastic change occurred in my life. To some it may seem really trivial. What it was, was a break up. I won’t go into the details of how or why I consider it to be a drastic change; safe to say it felt like one. I was stuck in a rut for several reasons that were triggered both during and after the parting of ways and I was at a loss on how to turn anything around. I adopted the Fake It Till You Make It method, but that was unsatisfying and counter-productive to actually moving on.
In January 2013, a week or two after the new year had rung in, it dawned on me how incredibly lethargic I felt. My body felt mistreated and my mind was weary from running in circles. I decided to go for a long walk. Later that night I resolved to wake up an hour early, for a change, and do a bit of light exercising. The next morning gave me one of the best hours I had spent in months. My chest felt lighter and my mind felt alert and excited. I heard a chirpy blonde voice in my head exclaim, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. (Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.)”. I looked forward to having that time to myself again the next day. And the next. Each bead of sweat felt like a victory. With each minute shaved off of the last workout, my body felt stronger. I actually caught myself grinning like a lunatic on the treadclimber! After what seemed like years I was finally doing something entirely for me. I wasn’t out to impress anyone, challenge anyone, or reach a particular goal. It was not pressure to lose weight or a forced New Year’s resolution. I was just spending time with myself in a new, productive way.
The exercise led me to become more conscious about what I ate. I don’t believe in quick-fix diets, cleanses, starvation tips and tricks, or deprivation. I tried one or two of those things once and let’s just say I became a very angry panda. It’s a bad scene for all involved, including the poor bag of Cheetos that I savagely attack with indecent greed once the “diet” is over. What I learned to believe in is moderation. I realized it was important to listen to my body and agree to stop when it says, “Hey lady, I’m full. Quit sending delectable treats down here!”. I became more actively involved in my eating–not only was I enjoying what I ate, but I understood what I was putting into my body. I started paying attention to conversations about exercise and wellness and stumbled across a hashtag, #sweatpink. It taught me an important lesson–It’s all about the attitude.
Following along with #sweatpink and #sweatpossible conversations on Twitter led me to discover amazing women who balanced careers, families, educations, goals, and their bodies. I learned that if there’s a will, there will always be a way. If not, there will always be an excuse. Even better were the conversations sparked among those who #sweatpink and the support I got every time I shared some progress. These regular women proved to be extraordinary role models. I started to shed my misconceptions and misgivings and just encouraged myself to be the best I can be. It extended from my workouts and my eating habits all the way to my train of thought. Instead of only seeing things in a negative light, I found ways to extract that little ray of sunshine. There was now a choice available to take a step back from an unpleasant situation and redefine it in a more mature, understanding manner.
My biggest milestone was when I looked at the (rather large) collection of baggage I have been carrying around for months and declared “Well you’re here. We can walk together, sure. But I refuse to let you weigh me down”.
And then I ran 7 miles.
For the first time in my bronchial-asthmatic, shin-splint, picked-last-in-gym-class life.
Today I became a #SweatPink ambassador, which means a lot because I hope to be the same source of inspiration that these wonderful strangers and friends are to me every day. Most importantly, I’ve discovered that the first step to Believing in Yourself is to BE the best YOU. I know, that sounds corny. But really. Once you start treating your body right and believing in your own strength, you’ll surprise yourself every single day. And you’ll smile a whole lot more! It’s all about the attitude, ladies and gents. It’s not about running 40 miles or reading every label on the box. It’s about treating yourself right, mentally and physically. Once you start, you’ll expect better from yourself and from those around you. It’s never too late. Be kind to yourself (and others) and have faith that you’ll slowly find the things that define you and make you truly happy.
What are you waiting for? Get after it.