I used to joke about always being in shape. I’d say, “I’m in shape, round is a shape!” I would laugh for a few seconds then the manufactured joy would cease and I’d immediately feel bad or guilty for the state of my health and my out of shape body. I haven’t always been self-conscious about my body, the self criticism and loathing didn’t start until after I had put on nearly fifty pounds over the course of 6 years. It seemed like I just woke up one day with all this extra weight. I guess I’m the type that “carries it well”. In reality, I think what happened was that I was so distracted by my depression that I couldn’t see what was really going on, and since I was in such a fragile state, no one close to me was about to suggest that I may be getting a little bit chubby. Maybe someone should have made me go run around the block a few times, exercise causes the release of endorphins and serotonin, thus making you feel happier and making you less depressed. There are countless case studies and success stories of people curing their depression with the help of exercise. I hope that knowing what I know now about the positive effects of exercise on depression I can help somebody through their tough time. Here’s the funny thing about depression, you may think you’re out of the woods, but something like realizing you’ve gained a bunch of weight while in your depressed state can put you right back in that depressed state. Now, more than ever, you need to be strong so you can make an action plan.
I’ve recently read a few articles of women who would be classified as in “extremely good shape” and their “backward transformations”. What these women chose to do was to evaluate the way they were living their lives and decide if what they were doing was making them happy. One woman, who was a competition bodybuilder, decided that her overly strict diet and workout program were making her miserable, and causing her to believe that she would never be good enough. Her “healthy” lifestyle was making her very emotionally unhealthy. So she decided to take it down a notch and enjoy some freedom in her life and soon became much happier. She chose to love the skin she was in, knowing that she was in control. The secret to loving your body through thick and thin (no pun intended) is to know that you have the power to change what you don’t like. There is no magic pill, or crash diet that will save you from the true dedication needed to change your body. Once you set your goal, make a list of milestones so you can evaluate your progress. When you reach the milestones, make sure to recognize how all your hard work paid off, and remember your goals as to help motivate you to push on. Look at your accomplishments and say well done, and if there’s still work to be done get to it. Also, recognize that it’s not just your body that makes you beautiful/handsome, valuable, intelligent, funny, worthwhile. Love it in all stages and be thankful for what it does right, you know like breathe on its own. Get rid of the negative and unrealistic influences in your life, one of my friends shared a funny article about the impossibility of wearing a Victoria’s Secret swim suit if you are a mom. You can read it here, then quickly use your VS catalogs as campfire starter.
I challenge all of you to be nice to yourself this week. Write a positive note to yourself on your bathroom mirror so it’s the first thing you see in the morning. Tell yourself you’re wonderful, and your hard work is paying off. See if you don’t start smiling from the inside and find new motivation to conquer your goals.