Let’s do this! (again…)

It has been almost a year since I updated this blog and over a year since I opened up about my break up and the abuse I had lived through for five years. There were several times where I thought “I should update the blog…It’s just sitting there” or someone would tell me “I love your blog! You need to post more!” I really wanted to, but I found it hard to be honest enough to open up about how I was coping, and more importantly how I wasn’t running or eating healthy.

“Make sure you’re working out. It will really help you feel better!”

I quickly lost track of how many times I was provided this, admittedly well-meaning, advice over the past year whenever I opened up to someone about the amount of anxiety I was feeling. Exercise is supposed to make you feel better, it increases your endorphins, and as Elle Woods says “Endorphins make you happy!”

Runners often talk about the “runner’s high” they feel, the high that justifies running distances that non-runners find crazy. Once I started running, it was always a sure-fire way to improve my mood, that is, until it wasn’t. 

I have old posts about how running has made me feel emotional and, while rare, I’ve been known to cry after an especially strenuous workouts or races. However, those tears were rarely accompanied with feelings of sadness. Last year, that was not the case. Every run caused me to break down into, often uncontrollable tears, and a need to stop running catch my breath and inevitably end my workout to go home feeling more depressed and anxious than when I started.  I don’t think it would surprise anyone to hear that I dreaded my runs and very quickly decided to take a break from running.

I threw myself into other workouts. I was going to find something that worked! I joined my coworkers for a free introductory Crossfit class. But while they left the class feeling amped and ready to sign up for a membership. I went home, took a quick shower, and crawled into my bed crying for the rest of the evening wallowing in sadness and anxiety.

My therapist recommended Zengo, and while I truly loved the workouts, will probably do it again, it also left me in tears at the end. Yoga wasn’t any better for my emotions.

A quick Google search reassured me I wasn’t broken and it is actually incredibly common to feel this way after working out. Still that didn’t make me feel any better, and it’s hard to vocalize to people why you aren’t willing to try their fail proof suggestion of working out more in order to feel better. It’s hard to motivate yourself to do something that you know is just going to make you cry and feel crappy, so I didn’t.

I threw myself into anything that would make me feel better. I ate whatever the hell I wanted, calorie and carb counts be damned! I found a therapist knowledgeable in narcissistic emotional abuse and began seeing her weekly. I surrounded myself with friends and activities, became more active in my church community, and prioritized my alone time to help me recharge when necessary.

None of the above was easy. Every time I ate a piece of pizza or cake, decided to see friends instead of work out, or noticed that my clothes that once draped over my body were becoming decidedly tighter I heard my ex’s voice in my head chastising me. “Why are you eating that?” “You could be skinny if you wanted, you’re just lazy,” “It isn’t hard to lose weight you just have to do it.”  My therapist helped me work through silencing those voices. While I still hear them occasionally, now they are so quiet I can easily drown them out with my own positive mantras.

Running again and feeling great about it!

I am running again (and training for another half marathon!), and slowly resuming my health eating. This past year wasn’t easy and building my stamina back up was, at times, frustrating, but the end result was worth it. Mentally I feel better than I ever have with a more positive outlook on life than I could have hoped for. The hard work was worth it, so here’s to the next year!

Let’s try this again…

Disclaimer: This post is going to be full of real talk.

It has been forever and a day since I last posted. Or, more accurately, almost two years. The initial reason? I was finishing my Master’s Degree. I had a capstone to work on, exams to study for, and to be quite honest, ensuring I was successful with all of that, while working full time, didn’t leave time for much else. But then I graduated!

Happy Graduation day to me!

Graduation gave a short break from stress, and then life decided I’d had enough relaxation and that was the perfect time to throw a ton of unexpected stressors my way that invited a whole slew of emotions including anger, frustration, sadness and loneliness.

The most recent curveball was the end of a five-year relationship. I was making plans for a future, and apparently, he was not. Many of my friends, who were as shocked as I was, commented on how strong I was for how I dealt with everything. I felt anything but. I felt crushed and broken, the future I thought I was going to have was no more.

I pep talked my way out of bed every morning. I felt like my feet were dragging each and every day.  For a while, I stopped eating because the thought of food made me sick to my stomach. I lost a ton of weight (at least two dress sizes), and for the first time in my life I wasn’t happy about it (although even I can admit I looked fantastic). I now know what full blown anxiety feels like. Anxiety attacks became something my body was bracing for when the next one would hit. I cherished the five second reprieve I got when I first woke up in the morning and my brain had forgotten everything that was going on.

I stopped running. Initially, for good reason, I had a bad ankle sprain that wouldn’t go away. But then I visited a podiatrist, started physical therapy, was given the go ahead to start running again…and still didn’t run for five months. Since I started running that may be the longest break from physical activity that I’ve had. I don’t even know how many people told me “You NEED to exercise, it will make you feel better!” Hell, I was telling myself that. But saying that, and knowing that, is a lot easier than actually putting on my running clothes, lacing up my running shoes and going out for a run.

I threw myself into social activities, which as an introvert was draining and exhausting, but that was the point. I was too exhausted at the end of each day to deal with all the emotions swirling in my head. I dove head first back into dating, making profiles on dating apps, swiping left far more than I was swiping right. I met someone fast. Someone great. He was nice, funny, cute. We had SO MUCH in common…and I couldn’t open up. I was honest with him, I ended it, he was great about it (which made ending it that much harder). I deleted all my dating app profiles and exited the dating pool as quickly as I had entered it.

I have made some major changes to my life, and changes are still happening. It’s possible some of them were rushed, but, overall, it has been for the best. The anxiety attacks have stopped (thank goodness!) and I have finally started running again. So far it’s been about one month, I’m training for the Sole of the City 10k on April 14. Saturday I had my first 5 mile run since October. It was slow, my legs hated me, and it felt fantastic.  In the past few months I have learned so much about myself. Who I was when I entered my relationship five years ago, is not at all who I am now, in most ways for the better. My strength and resiliency throughout this whole process has shocked me. It’s taken time, and so much patience to get the point where I am finally, truly, excited to see what the future has in store for me.