Today we are going to get a little real and we’re going to get a little vulnerable. It’s time to practice what I preach. If you make yourself vulnerable, you might just change someone’s life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that the trials that make us stronger aren’t all about us.
I want to talk about my fitness journey from this past year, and for some reason I have been terrified to share it. We tend to hide our weaknesses. We sweep them under the rug and try to pretend that they don’t exist.
I’m not talking about the fact that I’ve always been small and that I’ve always had a fast metabolism. I’m not talking about the fact that I cannot stand running and it’s probably the last thing you will ever catch me doing.
I am talking about mental health and its link with exercise and physical health.
Most of you know that this has been a really hard year for me. Starting around this time last year, my marriage began to fall apart. I slowly got to a place where it took everything in me to maintain my mental health. My body suffered and by the time that K and I separated, I was in a bad place. I sold most of what I owned and packed up the rest. Packing a single box left me winded and my mom and dad had to do most of the work for me. I couldn’t sleep, and once I got to North Carolina in December I realize that I couldn’t even do a single assisted pushup.
I set some goals. Celebrate Christmas. Apply for three jobs a day. Get a job that pays more than minimum wage. Be able to do a pushup again.
Your goals are stepping stones. You can have the big picture of where you want to end up, but if that’s all you focus on, you can get overwhelmed. Set an attainable goal, with your final destination in mind. Work on one thing a day.
My first fitness goal was a pushup.
I kind of left it there, hanging in the back of my mind. My sister and I started going on walks, but once I got a job, I had to figure something else out. If I had a bad day, I would come home and turn on some music in the bonus room and dance it out. I would also do yoga. It wasn’t consistent, and it was hard.
In May, my work took a day to volunteer in our community. We spent the day at a soon-to-be park clearing a section of woods for a trail/walking path. I was nervous. I didn’t know where I was at physically. I knew where I had been a few months before and I was scared of still being in that place. I worked with these people every day, but a lot of them didn’t know my story, and they certainly didn’t know this side of it.
The day was hard. It was intense work. There were things I couldn’t do. But you know what, there were a lot of things that I could do. I worked hard and listened to my body. By the end of the day I felt pretty spent, but then I came home and while talking to my sister, I decided to try doing a push up again.
I did nine.
I set a new goal. Be able to do a handstand again. Last year, I tried to do handstands a couple times and pulled my back every time.
A few weeks later, my sister told me to try to do a handstand. If I could do it, we would go see a movie (at 10pm on a Friday, which is a huge deal getting my sister out of the house at night).
Again, I was nervous. I didn’t want to hurt myself, because since when is pulling your back fun? At least I would only embarrass myself in front of my sister this time if I failed.
I cheated and did the handstand against a wall. I took a couple tries, and even though I still used the wall to get myself up there, I was able to pull back and balance for a few seconds with no third-party support. No pulled backs here.
Since then I haven’t set any more goals. I still want to work on the handstands and my core body strength. Setting up a pool in the backyard has really helped me fall in love with working out again. It’s kind of all I have wanted to do this week.
Just twelve months ago, I felt like I was done being young. At twenty-six years old, I was pulling muscles left and right and my body felt like it was betraying me. I had a bad back and tendonitis and I was resigning myself to the fact that I was becoming an old fart. I cannot tell you how amazing it feels to have my body back. I’m still far from graceful and super awkward–hooray for not playing sports in high school!–but this girl who worked out two days in a row, went to the beach and swam for a couple hours, and then came home and did ten pushups and worked on my handstands, is freaking pumped.
Taking care of yourself is super important–mentally and physically. If you’re going through a rough time, set some goals for yourself–some small stepping stones that will get you closer to your end goal. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a to-do list. Keep it short and sweet. You will still have bad days and hard times. Everything won’t be perfect and you will still have flaws and weaknesses. Admit those things to yourself, but don’t let them define you. You are awesome. Every day is a new opportunity to grow into the person you are. No one else gets to be you. We need you.
Until next time,
Photo credit: Melissa McKinney