Through college and young adulthood, I was tall and thin despite my lack of physical activity, so I didn’t feel any need to change my mindset. Of course having a child changed my figure, but I still was well within normal weight ranges. In my 30s, life in China brought a more active life, but it was authentic exercise gained throughout the day via errands, shopping, etc.
Then I moved back to America where the more sedentary lifestyle combined with more sweets and processed foods resulted in a slow increase of two sizes over 3 years. I still wasn’t technically overweight, but I was uncomfortable with my pudges and wondered how much larger I might become.
Then my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. It was a very scary year. The strongest person in my life was weak and vulnerable.
She beat the cancer, but the experience shook me. If my mom, as healthy as she is, could get cancer, that meant it could also happen to me.
At the time I was in my early 40s and going through a divorce after 22 years of marriage.
I wanted a fresh start in every area of my life. Emma went to visit relatives in CA for the month of July 2014. And I decided to start exercising every day.
Not only did I exercise 4-5 days a week in July, I kept going through the fall, winter, spring and passed a full year of consistent exercise.
After just a few weeks I realized that cardio and weightlifting dissipated the anger and stress I was dealing with. Emma noticed a difference too. If I got testy, she would remind me, “Mom, have you been to the gym today?” She was right. The anger would melt away on the elliptical. And then when stressful situations happened, I could handle them better if I had exercised that day. When stress levels rose, I would know that a trip to the gym would make me feel better. And it did. Every time.
I was enjoying these new feelings of control over my emotions that had been so out of whack for several years.
My almost torturous habit of staying in my head all the time, thinking and planning, was broken by getting back in touch with my body through exercise. At the gym, I put loud music in my ears and felt my muscles working. I stopped mulling and brooding. Instead I moved and felt. The break from the non-stop mental gymnastics was a welcome relief. I started to become a more balanced person — more in touch with my body sensations rather than always cerebral.
This is the second post in a series about my own journey towards personal fitness and well-being. In my next post I explain more about what exercise did for me.
- How I Became a Non-Sporty Person Who Hated Exercise
- How I Grew to Appreciate Exercise (Even Though I’m Still not Sporty) You are here.
- What Exercise Did for Me
- Meeting Exercise Goals With Self-Talk & Rewards