Reclaiming Myself

November 19, 2009

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!


  1. Joane:

    This new dedication doesn’t apply to EVERYone, does it? I mean….may I be permitted to eat Kit-Kats and Bluebell ice cream and not feel guilty? May I continue to ignore my running? May I give up sweating in the gym? May I survive on down-home southern cooking and rich cajun fare w/o my shadow ever resting upon a weight bench?

    (I think I know the answer to these questions…..but one can HOPE, can’t he?)


    • Daily activity is the gift of the Gods. Physical activity is more effective than anti-depressants for dealing with depression. Problem is when a person is depressed it’s hard to get going.

      Good for you, Joane. Enjoy the life of the body! Perfect way to enter the “holiday” season.

    • J.R.

      I thought your response was rather nasty, mean-spirited in fact. Joanne’s post wasn’t about diet and exercise, was it? It was about loss. It was about someone struggling to overcome sadness and depression and how her physical exercise and diet helped her overcome that sadness. You would know more than me about why she left as Executive Director of TLC since you are now on the Board of Directors. ( I make no judgment about her departure because as a mere alumni of the TLC, I know no facts and no one has told me anything.)

      So, your effort to make fun of the diet and exercise struck me as an attempt to inflict harm on a sister member of our TLC community. I hope I am wrong. Please tell me if I am.

      I remember what stands out in my memory when I first met Gerry Spence at a regional in New York in April 2004, the year before I went to the ranch. He said,

      “If you want to be a better lawyer, be a better person.”

      Do you think your comment met that standard?

      Michael Lorence, TLC ’05
      Pittsburgh, PA

  2. Great Blog!!!!! Great to be back!

  3. I am so happy to hear you are back and to know the TLC bastards didn’t kill your spirit entirely.

  4. Plain old burn out and exhaustion! Been there, done that. Glad to hear you’re back.

  5. Great for you Joane !! I am also an emotional eater. Eating is my social life. I eat pizza, wings etc. when watching football or basketball. It is part of the process. A couple of years ago I lost about 25 pounds. I changed my eating habits. I didn’t exercise. I just changed my habits. I of course put the weight back on. I am trying to exercise but it is hard for me to get up in the morning. I love reading your blogs. Take care.

  6. Mama Bear,

    Its good to see you getting back in the swing of things. I too have gone to the gym a few times this month but its soooo hard to keep the motivation!!! I totally related to how difficult it is to deal with depression.

    Praying for a smile on your face,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: