Today I am rededicating myself to health, both emotional and physical. Since January, I have struggled, among many things, with my motivation to exercise and eat right. Depression, grieving of significant losses and plain old burn out and exhaustion forced me to put my physical health on hold. For the last several months I simply haven’t had the physical or emotional energy to lace up my shoes and hit the road. For months, depression ate away at my very soul. I lost a part of who I was. Having a tendency to gravitate towards emotional eating when I am struggling emotionally, I have eaten too much junk food. I have forgotten my healthy habits. But today, I declare war on idleness, ice cream and other junk food. Today, I am reclaiming that part of myself that has been missing for many, many months.
Since April, my nearly daily exercise routine decreased dramatically, first to a couple of times a week down to weeks on end with no activity. I would go to bed each night vowing to go out first thing in the morning for a run. Morning would arrive and I just couldn’t mobilize myself to put on my running clothes, lace up my shoes and head out the door. And then summer in the desert arrived with its crushing heat. Only a fool runs outdoors when it is 100+ degrees. And I hate treadmills. July, August and September pass with little physical activity on my part. The heat makes running out of the question. I go on the occasional bike ride but just can’t manage to string several days of exercise together.
During these hot, sweltering months, I let my diet go and eat a lot more comfort food. Yes, I am guilty of emotional eating. Yes, I love blueberry pancakes, ice cream and dark, rich chocolate. Like most of us, I tell myself, “Oh, a little ice cream never hurt anyone.” Or “I am not going to deprive myself of things I like.” And the best, “I will watch what I eat tomorrow.” And tomorrow becomes tomorrow which becomes yet another tomorrow, finally leading us to today. Several months have passed in the blink of an eye.
Last night I complained to my wife that I have put on a few pounds. Nothing disastrous, but enough for me to notice and feel the difference. She listens patiently as she always does then gently asks, “What are you going to do about it?” Such a simple question, but really a reminder that I am the ONLY one who can do anything to alter this new pattern and stave off the accumulation of additional pounds. Before bed I once again, as I have so often in the past, vow to renew my exercise plan and change my diet. But this time these are not empty promises. And so this morning, after my breakfast of a protein shake, I put on my running clothes, dust off my running shoes and head out for a run. I am slow and the minutes painfully add up. 25 minutes later I am finished. Breathing hard, sweat soaked, but proud. I realize how great running is for clearing my head and stimulating my creativity. I have missed my old friend. For the last several years’ exercise has been my salvation and a gift I give to myself. Perhaps the greatest insight I had on my morning run was the voice inside me shouting, “she’s back!” Since at least January, I have felt like a piece of myself was missing. In the dark days of depression I lost hope, optimism and had no energy. But this morning, with my heart pounding and the sweat pouring down my face, I reclaimed that missing piece. I am indeed back!