Honestly, for years I wasn’t the best role model for my daughter. I wasn’t the best role model for myself as a matter of fact. I was tired all the time. I didn’t think that my eating habits were that bad. I was going out to eat and having cocktails way too much. I definitely was not sleeping properly. Then I was sitting around wondering why I was depressed and anxious all the time.
I was lost.
I would sit around and analyze my situation. Ok, I know that I need to be eating healthier, but I am not sure what that entails/means. I also know that doing some sort of exercise would probably make me feel better. But what do I do?!? Here enters the extra feeling of lost hopelessness.
I would throw my hands up in the air and just say: “Well…I don’t know what the hell to do” and then sit longer with my anxiety.
There was a desperate ache in my soul
Knowing I needed to do something. I knew that something had to change. Change, alter, adjust, however you want to say it, it’s anxiety provoking. Actually making a change can be even more terrifying. Thinking about what that change might have to be was anxiety producing. Knowing that the change I would have to make was to get off my ass and do something was scary. The thought of changing the way I ate was scary sounding.
Do you get what I am saying? Change is hard and scary!
I am a mom. I have a teenage daughter. I have worked very hard to make sure that she is a good, kind and caring person. I have spent immeasurable amounts of my own energy ensuring this. She has always come first. Well, I am here to tell you, it’s exhausting. And not always in a good way. It’s not fun. I am not one of those mom’s that tells everyone I love being a mom. I’ll be honest, I don’t all the time. I love my child with every fiber I have but man, it’s hard. And that’s ok.
What’s not okay though is that I am supposed to be a good example to this kid. I am the one to set the tone for how she eats and encourage her to eat healthy. I am the one to show her what exercise should look like. And if I was being honest with myself, I wasn’t doing those things. I did not like that about myself.
Learned lesson one: being honest with yourself. Honesty on what I want…What am I looking for??
I didn’t really know where to start. I didn’t know what to do. Then I started doing a deep Google dive into what health was. Boy, that is not a search for the faint of hearts. I read for hours on articles about mental health, physical health, how to get fit, being fit as you age, low carb is the best…you name it, it popped up.
All that information I tried to absorb led to me being able to form a few questions of my own on what health would look like to me. What would make my health improve, my mental health feel better, and what really mattered to me?
To me, health is:
Being able to manage stress, being able to be active and vibrant, being happy more than not, being able to keep up with my kid, setting a good example, and have a balanced diet and lose some weight, maybe make some muscles pop back out…I wasn’t fully sure. It also evoked some real talk with myself of what I was currently doing:
- Was I doing any of those things to my best ability? Probably not.
- Was being a role model important? Well, yes. I didn’t want my daughter to remember me as a tired, burned- out, crab-ass that didn’t have the time of day to listen to her or do anything fun! That was NOT who I wanted to be.
- Was being tired all the time fun? No, I wanted to be able to work all day, come home and still be able to take my kid to Target without feeling like a pile of crap.
- Was sitting around eating a whole bag of chips good for me? No! Emotional eating is a hard cycle to be in. I was using it to cope with stress and to “tune out”.
- Was going out to eat and drinking too much good for me? Absolutely not. I was in denial that drinking was as bad for me as it really was.
- Could I actually help myself feel less depressed and anxious? Probably.
- Could I eat better and exercise? Yes, but it’s going to be hard. Is that “being hard” worth being who you want to be? Fuck yeah.
Well, now what? I had established that I wanted changes, that I needed changes, but now what do I do?
A big part of my problem is always being “in my head”.
I needed to find a way to manage this headiness and come to an understanding with my mind and brain. It is exhausting having that thing in my head telling me what to do and what not to do.
I did not like feeling stressed out and anxious but I was comfortable with it. Yes, comfortable with it. My brain let me stay miserable so that I didn’t have to feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with changing my schedule, overhauling my eating, and actual consistent exercise.
I also learned that the brain is hard-wired to protect us and to keep us comfortable, even if emotionally we are UNcomfortable. And I don’t like it when someone thinks that they know what’s best for me…even if it is my own brain!
I thought, what if I tried to not listen to this thing in my head, especially when it comes to exercise and just did something. I tried being mindless in my decisions on movement.Yes mindlessness. I did not read about this on the internet. But there has always been this old adage that said: Just Do It. One day this clicked for me. Hey, Nike was right.
But on a real note, have you ever talked yourself out of doing something like working out or just getting off the couch? Your MIND told you to not to do anything. I learned that my mind was talking me out of doing the hard stuff constantly. Once I understood that my brain was kind of a jerk, I wanted to rebel against it. So I did, I started to “blow it off”. I left it feeling like a parent telling their kid to sit down and listen to them. And it worked. I found myself being able to get more than just exercise done with this skill.
In the spirit of doing something big and mindless, I joined a CrossFit gym. I literally signed-up when I was half asleep and wasn’t thinking about what I was really doing. Then when I woke up a little more, a little bit later in the day, it hit me. I just signed up for something super terrifying…what the hell did I do??? Fear set it, I sat with the fear and decided, well, I signed up and I am doing it. At least I’m going to try it.
Why am I doing it? Remember? To be a role model, to change a few habits and to better myself…ok. Proceed.
This was a pivotal, honest moment for my life. I learned that even though I was scared to do something, I did it anyways and I was mentally tougher than I gave myself credit for. What I mean by that is,
I was honest with myself on what I wanted for me.
I tried over and over again to keep this in the forefront of my mind about what was more important. And I kept asking myself:
- Was it more stressful for me to be inactive or to find a workout routine?
- Was being a couch potato over an active person a part of the role model I wanted to be?
- Eating a balanced meal of veggies, protein and carbs or a whole party-sized bag of Doritos?
Of course asking myself these questions caused me to feel stressed-out and anxious, but instead of staying comfortable/uncomfortable with that, I decided to use some of that stress and anxiety to create a sense of urgency for myself. I’ll call is a healthy urgency. I needed this. Instead of thinking of anxiety as always being the bad guy and not in my control, I used it to slightly manipulate myself.
I still use this. When I am feeling anxious about anything really, I guide myself back to my important goals, remind myself of them and move forward. Take some mindless action.
Everything here goes back to being honest with yourself. Making a decision on this from the perspective of: is this honestly what I want to be? Then basing my action on that question. And just doing it. Acting right away on healthy urgency.
Feeling better has always been the goal. Feeling better to me means: I have energy and mental stamina to do what I want. And dulling down that pit of anxiety in my stomach.
Change is not easy. But having some important, honest conversations with yourself on your health, your wants, your goals is just the beginning to really moving forward.