A Week Of Gains, Losses, and Reflections (in the Mirror and Within!)

Where do I start? Do I start with the pain in my stomach from my breakfast binge? Or the soreness of my throat from this cold? Maybe the burning sensation in my eyes from waking up three times a night…ugh. I have been fighting this cold for more than half the month. We had to unexpectedly buy another car, which means for the first time in years we have monthly payments on a vehicle, something we hadn’t planned on in our budget. Double-ugh. Moving-in projects that I thought I’d have finished weeks ago are sitting half-done. And the depression I thought I was finally over is back. It’s back…

I think of depression as a cancer of the mind. I’m sure you’ve passed people on the street who had cancer or depression and never even knew it. Maybe they didn’t even know it, but it was still there slowly eating at them and destroying them. And it’s scary. It’s scary because people can’t see it like a broken leg, so they think to open the door for you and you can get some help. They treat you like everybody else and you’re expected to function just like any other day. It’s scary because the same mind that is the source of all ideas and intents is suddenly giving you awful ideas that you wouldn’t even want to udder aloud. Sorry to be a downer, but it’s been the reality of my past week and I had to get it out somewhere. I love my family, I love my God and I’m going to keep going, but it’s been much, much harder…

I’m used to being the cheerleader. Even as an athlete I would be awarded the Team Spirit award when playing community sports. And the year I was actually a cheerleader in college, I was the one cheering US ON during our grueling workouts. But all of those were very public, relatively unimportant events so it was easy. Now, with this challenge of living healthier, making time for me, and fighting against this depression that I usually hide so well from others, the stakes are much higher. I’m scared that if I don’t lose the weight and change things now I might give up trying.

A week ago I had SO MUCH CONFIDENCE! I felt different. I felt stronger. I felt slimmer. I felt happy looking at my face in the mirror, which I hadn’t felt in a long time. I even got our family pictures done and I usually avoid pictures. Things were going great. Then I got the relapse of this cold, stopped working out so much because I felt EXHAUSTED, gained a pound,(which I know can just be water-weight, muscle, whatever, but SITLL…)

got bad news about a few different areas (grad school options, the car, friends, other bills…) and here I am, worse than ever…well, maybe. For a couple days I’ve crossed over to the other side where I used to be, and maybe I’m not really worse than ever.

I stopped eating healthy for a few days, and you know what? All that snack food that I thought I’d sacrificed to give up, didn’t taste as good as I thought they would. The desserts were too sweet. The chips tasted like salty tissue paper and salty cardboard. And it just wasn’t as satisfying to eat something so full of calories. It’s like shopping. It’s not nearly as fun to buy something at full price than it is to find it on sale and save the money. It’s so much more satisfying that way, and I’ve found that I feel that way with food now. It’s much more enjoyable to find a healthy, yummy way to cook food that lets me save calories.

Also, my hubby bought me a gift, a heart rate monitor. During the one workout I used it I learned that what I thought was a decent workout was only getting me up to 90 beats per minute. The target range for a woman my age is actually between 120 and 140. WOW. I’ve been way under! I think that level was a good start before and where I needed to start. But if I want to continue seeing progress I’m going to have to really step up my workouts, which I want to do, as soon as I can breathe more easily and stop coughing.

As I wrap up this post I remember the most depressing, FUN cheering experience I ever had. It was an away-game which was always more challenging because there was only a handful of people from SVU in the stands to cheer at. Also, we had the other team’s guests to try to ignore (they usually tried confusing us, yelling that our signs were upside-down, etc.) Besides that it was FREEZING and rainy. We had these super-cute ponchos to wear over our uniforms, that looked like huge trash bags and went down to our knees. Since it wasn’t raining a lot to start I just felt dumb wearing it. BUt soon the rain fell so much we were slipping in the mud with every kick and not even able to stunt. But it was fun! It was a crazy, rainy, messy, fun time. But that’s because we weren’t playing the game.

Our team was losing 40-something to nothing by the end of it. It wasn’t easy to chant “Go! Fight! Win!” but we kept cheering anyway. It was our job. And those football players kept playing anyway, even though there was no chance of victory. Why did they keep playing, away from their friends and fans, in the rain and wind, in a losing game? Because they had started something and they cared about who they represented. And it’s the same for me now.

I’ve started something. I feel like I represent so many other low-income, struggling mothers out there. Not only do I need to keep cheering, even on days when my team is losing, I need to keep playing. I need to put forth healthy efforts anyway, and just let the chips (no pun intended) fall where they may. It’s made a difference before, and it WILL make a difference again.

I’ve heard that admitting you have a problem is the first step towards solving it and changing. Well, I’ve admitted that I struggle. I’ve taken that step. Hopefully my next step will be in my running shoes.