You won’t be surprised that since my diagnosis of anxiety and depression some years ago (four?) that I’ve been making pointed efforts towards improving my physical and mental health. I started with medication and therapy and then followed that upswing with better eating and the addition of exercise into my routine. It has been paying off with increased physical stamina, a more consistent energy level and shorter, less frequent spells of depression. As a lifestyle change, it’s a process that is ongoing and I continue to set myself goals.
A couple weeks ago, I began a 3 week exercise/eating challenge. (You can google Shift Shop if you’re curious) The diet is super low in carbohydrates and very high in vegetables. It includes a six day a week exercise program. I made it through 10 days of the 21 and then I dropped out. I struggled with that. Depression set in quickly. I hate not finishing. I hate failing. I see other people pushing through and succeeding in the challenge and I hear them encouraging us on, telling us not to quit. Don’t quit. Don’t be a quitter. I am a quitter. I am a failure. I am weak. I can’t even finish a short fitness program, how could I be successful anywhere else in life? I’m failing my children. I’m failing myself. I’m a disappointment to my husband. Adding Daniel to our family is going to sink us. What was I thinking to be so ambitious in life? My thoughts were a big spiral that all led downhill.
It was two or three days before my circling thoughts finally identified where it started. And yes, it is a good skill I’ve learned through depression… to identify my thoughts and address them with reason and with the input of my steady husband. And I decided that it started when I fell out of the fitness program. When I failed the challenge.
How was I going to get through this?
Here’s what I decided. I DIDN’T fail the challenge! You can call it a cop out, but guess what? I’m PROUD that I made it through 10 days of a challenging fitness program! I acknowledge that the fitness program is challenging. I acknowledge that my life is challenging. Let me draw an analogy… when working through one of the exercise videos, they tell you to modify if you need to, but still challenge yourself. So I did. And sometimes I pushed too hard and then I couldn’t finish a particular exercise. There’s this really big piece called pacing. We pace ourselves. If we push too hard, we can’t keep going. This fitness program was at a pace beyond what I could sustain. My everyday life is already at a significant pace. I am not weak. I am not giving up. I overdid my pace and had to pant to a stop.
I didn’t fail the challenge. I got further than I could have ever gotten before.
I took another day or so to think about my goals and set myself new fitness goals that are at a pace that is challenging, but hopefully where I can maintain better. Both with meals and with exercise. I’m pleased with my new goals. I’m still succeeding. I’m proud of myself. I’m starting to understand where the “mind game” is when it comes to exercising. When it comes to not giving up. The “can do it” attitude is not a thing I just have… it’s something I fight for.
Reminders to self:
Don’t compare yourself to other people
Do be inspired by other people
If you miss a day or a week in your plan, just pick up again when you can keep going
You have a lot on your plate
You’re doing a great job