My Exercise Therapy

Exercise therapy is real. It’s oh so good for the soul and brain.

During the fall of 2015 Danny was so anxious that I didn’t feel like I could leave the house to workout. Many nights I’d feed my 4-month-old around midnight, come to bed, help Danny fall asleep, wake up at 5 to feed baby, then come to bed and help Danny calm down and instead of getting a little shut-eye before the other kids would wake up. 

Come January Danny was doing a little better. I chose to work out a few days/week to stay sane, even if it was getting up at 4:40 in the morning!

Exercising released the endorphins needed in order to feel more neutral about my circumstance.

I had a long journey ahead with regard to learning tools necessary to do more than survive, but exercise was an instant pick-me-up. Later that year I started teaching spin classes again in my neighborhood and at the local rec center.

A few injuries during 2016 combined with an upcoming busy season in January of 2017 led me to temporarily stop teaching my classes. It was hard, but cutting extra responsibilities out of my life helped me think thoughts that led me to feel some much-needed relief.

It was at about that time, about a year and 3 months after Danny’s first panic attack, he realized he had some childhood trauma to address.

I had some very hard truths to accept.

The combination of not working out, stress from work, not sleeping, not taking time for myself, and emotional eating (because I didn’t have the mental tools to process hard truths) led to some weight gain. Legitimate weight gain.

I’m actually amazed (yet not surprised given the stress I was under) at how quickly my body was able to pack on the pounds 😉. If my body could talk I feel like it would have said something like: “everything is so.freaking.crazy there’s no consistency the world might end so store EVERYTHING just in case!!!” I gained 42 lbs in 18 months.

I was totally buffering away my negative emotions with food.

What is buffering you ask?

Buffering is using something to avoid feeling an emotion, typically a negative one.

We all buffer in different ways. Some people avoid negative emotions with productivity, workouts, video games, Netflix, while others buffer with food, alcohol, sugar, and the list goes on. This doesn’t mean that these things are all bad.

A good question I now ask myself is “why do I want to do this?” To avoid emotion, numb out a bit, or for renewal? Sometimes a Netflix show is just what I need at the end of the day to unwind—and I think that’s great.

I was totally buffering with food. And Netflix. Many nights when I didn’t have to work I LOVED parking myself in front of the tv to watch a favorite show with a treat.

Now is this wrong? NNNOOO. I realize now that I wasn’t loving my circumstance and didn’t want to think about it (because then I’d feel negative emotions). On the other hand, watching a show while eating a treat gave me a quick dopamine hit.

Just before fall in 2017 I thoughts like “ok it’s time.

It’s time to get your butt in gear and sign up for some races again.” I was ready to get back into shape, but there was resistance. This part of me was speaking up saying something like “no, you don’t need to kill it with a race, start small. You need to reconnect with your body. Start with yoga.”

Initially, I didn’t like this idea. “You don’t burn as many calories with yoga” I said to myself.

I signed up for some personal training sessions with a friend of mine. Five sessions in that part of me spoke up again: “Start with yoga.” I hesitantly told this to my trainer. I finished out my personal training with some killer yoga sessions. I finished out my program feeling more connected to myself than I had in the past few years.

I experienced trauma.

I disassociated form my body because I didn’t want to feel the pain and I didn’t have the tools to process that deep emotion. I was finally at a place where I was ready to reconnect. I signed up for classes from an awesome studio in Alpine, UT.

I came away from some of those classes feeling unstoppable and began to love and accept myself more than I ever had in my life—while weighing more than I ever had without a baby inside!

I had heard that if I didn’t love myself now I wasn’t going to suddenly adore myself once I hit my goals. I thought this was interesting and took it to heart. I started choosing to think thoughts that led me to love and accept my body at it’s current weight.

I hit the high on the scale at the end of 2017.

I was amazed at the compassion I gave myself permission to have. Instead of shaming myself and saying things like “you’ll be happy once you fit back into those old jeans” I would think thoughts like

“Of course you gained this weight. Your body did what it knew to do to survive. It acted exactly as it should have. You were dealing with so much. You are just as lovable now as you always have been.”

I said these things and I actually believed them.

Today I’m halfway to returning to my normal body size and pretty stoked about the progress I’ve made. With the weight yes, but to lose it with a healthy attitude of love and abundance has been an incredible experience.

And the cool thing is this: I am doing thought work to get to where I am.

Instead of focusing solely on the “actions” I need to take (which has led me to short-term results in the past) I’m going a few steps further. I got to the root of why this happened so I can be more aware and connected to my mind. It has been very rich and rewarding. I’m excited to see where I’m at by my 36th birthday which happens to be December 31st, 2018.