On Physical Health

If you had asked me two years ago that I would be thirty pounds lighter than my current weight, I would have thought you were crazy and might have gotten offended you even asked.

2015 self; I am thirty pounds lighter in 2017.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to regain my health back until after the weight was off and I was looking at old photographs of myself. I saw a girl who was going through the most severe bout of depression in her life, gaining weight yet looking so frail and hurt.

In January 2015, I went through a really terrible breakup that rocked my entire universe. I slipped into an incredibly severe depression that would prevent me from getting out of bed, and had me contemplating suicide every night. I was incredibly manipulative and dishonest to others. I drank a lot. My grades tanked, and my GPA was the lowest it had ever been. I was incredibly lost.

My anxiety causes me, occasionally, to make rash decisions that are entirely whims and often have consequences. During this time, one of my whims was to apply for internships. And not just internships, ones outside of Massachusetts. I thought that Massachusetts was causing my depression, anxiety, and manic tendencies, and by physically removing myself from the state, I would be better.

Much to my surprise, I got one in Austin, Texas. More to my surprise, it was with one of the most premiere theatre companies in central Texas. It was a big turning point in my life, and forced me to look forward to something. It also caused me to try and figure my issues out; I was going to be around children, and the last thing I wanted was to influence impressionable youth with my undesirable behavior.

Since the internship was only for a summer, I did not bring my car with me, forcing me to take public transportation. The only bus line that ran even remotely close to my internship was one that required a 3/4 mile walk one way.

Uphill. In the Texas summer sun.

Tight on cash for Uber, I did it every single day. It was a full-time internship. I walked uphill in 102 degree heat, 50% humidity, my legs throbbing and my face dripping with sweat. By the time I would get back to my apartment, my shirt would be drenched in sweat.

I didn’t notice any changes. I wasn’t trying to lose weight. It wasn’t until I got home that my parents were astonished at how I looked. And when I went to the doctors a few weeks later, I had lost 15 pounds.

Since then, I have made a commitment to my health. The commitment is really quite simple; I work my physical to improve my mental. I put very little restrictions on myself in order to stick with it, and only work out in ways that intrigue me.

Typically, I will go to the gym 3 days a week and do yoga 2 days. At the gym, I do intense cardio for 25 to 30 minutes, and then lift weights and do strength training for about 45 minutes. I live 10 minutes from the bus stop and have a 5 minute walk to the gym on campus, acting as my warm-up or additional exercise on days I just can’t fit one in.

That’s it. I try new things at the gym. I try out different teachers at my yoga studio. I have found what works. But it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of trial and error to find out what I liked. Lots of terrible spin classes and Zumba and exhausting the elliptical. I take time to practice self-reflection, noticing how I feel throughout the day physically and mentally, and celebrating those small victories.

They ARE small victories. There was a point in my life I could not get out of bed due to depression. Now, I have registered for my first 5K in the summer.

Food wise, I don’t restrict; I just make small changes. For example, I try to limit my carbohydrate intake to once a day, usually in the morning before my workout. I try to have a fruit or veggie with every meal. I make a big bowl/plate/pot of something at the beginning of the week and eat that for dinner the rest of the days. I try not to snack in between meals. I have cut sugar from my coffee. I have stopped drinking soda, juices, or anything sugary.

I still eat Chick Fil A and Wendy’s and that delicious Mexican food truck across the street. Just like vegetables, these foods make me feel good. I practice healthy habits and reward myself with no body shaming. I do not count calories due to a previous eating disorder.

My life is so much richer thanks to physical health. I am a gym rat now, and I love. Almost every time I work out, I see that woman from two years ago, who did not see any positively or light in her life. I can lift heavier things with ease and walk up stairs without losing my breath. I use these small victories to drive me and achieve more.

The hot body is just the secondary reward.

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