Diet & Exercise vs. Stress & Anxiety

So here’s the thing: I have, in my possession, a certificate that states that I know enough stuff to be a personal trainer. I can, in fact, lead the average person (beginners would be best) through a series of workouts, keep them motivated, and make sure they’re not going to get hurt. I also know quite a bit about nutrition and appropriate meal planning. HOWEVER! I’m also a human female, in my thirties, with rampant hormones, daily life stressors, and aspirations that are just a touch (off by a freakin’ mile!) out of reach.

What does all of that mean? Well, it means that I know what I should do to stay in shape, be healthy, and how to help other people do the same. But I also like buffalo wings, buffalo cheese dip (OHMIGAWD), beer, and pasta. There have been countless days in my adult life that have been so trying that on my way home from work I have decided that onion dip, wavy Lay’s, and beer were just what I needed for dinner. I totally know what Bridget Jones meant when she said, “I will always be just a little bit fat.”

I know, I know, “don’t let your bad habits or cravings get the best of you.” Well guess what, uninspired and uninspiring article in a women’s magazine masquerading as an empowering think-piece: I’m not a god. I’m not a saint. I don’t have the iron will to resist all the things all the time. I can work my ass off for weeks on end, doing my best, behaving myself, and being responsible, but then, one day, drop like a rock from stress and exhaustion. Do you know why? Because that’s the human equivalent of turning it off and back on again. That’s my breaking point. Everyone has one. They’re all in different places chronologically as well being dependent on activity level.

All of these things add together to create this lumpy, squishy, stretchy, and still quite strong body that I wander through life in. I have gained and lost quite a bit of weight over the years and still get wistful when I look back at photos of me before all of adulthood began kicking my ass. I have had many days when I have a huge to-do list and have pushed off working out because, well, I had stuff I needed to get done. That led to more stress and less rest. Those are the days that kicks my anxiety into high gear, kills my appetite (leading to horrible food choices), and destroys my sleep. That is probably my worst habit: putting everything else ahead of what’s best for me.

It’s been more than a year now since I quit working at the gym. Now it’s a minimum of a 15 minute drive to get to the gym (effin traffic lights and their bad timing) so I fell into a rut where the main excuse was, “Well, if I only do an hour workout, that means I need to give it more like 2 hours so I have time to get dressed, drive there, stow things in a locker, do my workout, drag my ass leaving, and get home again…” I gained so much weight, got super anxious, my depression kicked up and killed my motivation for ALL the things, and I spent many days last year sleeping a lot. Literally about 4 days last year were spent just laying down. I felt like I was sick without actually getting sick.

Now, it is New Year’s Day and I could espouse the “New Year, New Me” diatribe that so many people seem to embrace, but I won’t. That’s one of the key phrases I truly hate and wish to find stricken from the English language. It has no substance! No, this is a new year, fiscally, which does have some benefits but that’s about all. What I can say is that I have been hit by some much needed motivation in the last couple of weeks. I don’t have work right now because I’m on a government contract that simply pauses for 3 weeks, so I have enough time on my hands to get through my to-do lists without rushing or stress. Last week was the first time in at least a year that I have gotten into the gym 4 times in a week and the first time, probably ever, that I have spent two solid hours sweating away in each session. That felt so good! I even got Batman to hit up the gym with me first thing this morning because I wanted to get 4 days in again this week but didn’t want to battle resolutioners for my equipment.

I’m hoping to rise this wave of motivation long enough to get back in a regular groove. I remember seeing a sign at a gym that said, “If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.” I know it was intended to be motivational but it always struck me as being incredibly condescending. Sometimes shit gets in the way. There’s no nice way to put that. The more inspirational and helpful quote that should be on signs in gyms, “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up. (Vince Lombardi)”


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