Roughly a month ago, I asked a few of my fitness or health-minded friends to write out their story. I needed inspiration and wanted to remember why I'd started again. Hitting a plateau is never fun, and I felt like a reminder would be worth it (flash forward - it was).
I think what’s hard in this lifetime is you become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. You build a comfortability in your routine and then in the blink of an eye it can be washed away like it never existed. Relationships. Habits. Motivation. Living. I say that because I recently looked at a picture and it forced me to see how different my life is now, nearly four years later. It reminded me of a time where I had routine – where I had comfort in knowing things would be a particular way for a duration of time and made me reflect about how far I'd come since then. How different I am from that twenty-four-year-old who disliked so much about herself; I reflected that I am 100% a completely different person compared to who I was. I like to think that having the experience itself has made me wiser; a better version of myself now and that I’m more capable of handling certain life situations or issues.
I asked these friends to send me pieces outlining what they might go back and say to themselves when they first started or when they were discouraged. I asked them to tell me if they had an "aha!" moment like I did over that stove back in 2012 (see what I mean here). I got six hearty responses, all extremely motivational, and they share a common theme:
Time and Perseverance of Obstacles
That’s the case with the first story I wanted to share. The writer has asked to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, but I think their narrative has a lot to showcase in relation to that emotion in the picture I saw - what it's like to take a look at your surroundings and know that it could be improved. Better yet, to look back after some time and to see yourself in such a drastically different life, that you can't believe that it could ever have been you.
I have always been seen as the “strong” athletic type. I played competitive softball most my life, and I have been labeled as the tough leader of my group. However, little do people know I have always struggled with self-worth, body image, and confidence. The only time I felt like I had my shit together was between the chalk lines of the field. I struggled balancing this persona placed upon me, and finding my place in the world. To top it off, I am a people pleaser – which puts my needs/wants at the end of the long list of others. This lead me down a dark and very private destructive path. I found myself addicted. Addicted to alcohol, drugs, attention and food… anything that would provide me a moment of satisfaction. I could feel myself spiraling out of control with no way to stop it. I felt I had no one to turn to because I had to be the backbone of work, the glue that held my family together and the face of a failing marriage. I struggled finding my purpose, and turned to comfort – anything that would numb the pain and get me through the day. I started hanging around people I knew I shouldn’t, but they didn’t judge my loose morals which fueled the fire of my destruction. I stopped playing softball, caring for the things I once loved, and the weight started to pack on. Instead of doing something about it, I only sunk deeper and deeper into what I refer to as the black hole of my life. I was at the peak of my drug/alcohol use and heaviest I had been in my life when it all came to a head - I had discovered that the marriage I was fighting so hard to save was over. I hit what I thought was rock bottom, but in reality was my saving grace.
I had no idea where to start, but I can vividly remember sitting in my car with everything I could grab in a moment’s notice thinking “Now what?” It was through that chaos I knew had to grow up, and take care of me. It has been a slow and steady roller coaster of trials and tribulations. It started with my mental health – talking to a therapist and realizing I am worth it and that I do NOT need the crutch of drugs/alcohol. I am proud to say that I am no longer dependent on substance – knowing the difference of need/want. As I got to a healthy mindset my weight started to become steady, and I was complacent where I was. It was once a good friend of mine came to visit me for the weekend that I knew that I could reconstruct my body, just like I had done with the rest of my life. Seeing, and hearing her story inspired me. I have become more active, and mindful of my nutrition. This new found surge of energy, hope, and happiness has brought light back into my life. As the pounds, and inches dwindle away I find myself more confident – not solely for the vanity of looking better, but knowing the strength and sacrifice I have made to achieve where I am today.
This new found confidence has given me a life I could have never imagined. I’ve found true love, mended broken friendships, strengthened family bonds, and passion for softball that I thought had been lost. Turns out that persona of being a tough leader has been inside me this whole time. This journey of mine has just begun, and I look forward to every day ahead of me.
It takes a lot of courage to reflect and change something that you thought was right, but come to find it was simply habit or fear of something different. I know that’s what it was for me.