No joke: last week was a super-sad week. A friend passed away, someone my own age with whom I had shared some really fun times. It was a complete surprise. But what wasn’t a complete surprise was what happened next. All of a sudden, it seemed like a really good idea to have a whole lot of super-sugary comfort foods the day after I heard the news. And to skip my workout that day. And the next day, too. I had a three-day stretch last week where I barely moved at all, except to try to get in a walk in the morning.
It was so easy to fall down the rabbit hole in a moment of sadness and grief.
When I was eleven years old, a close family member lost about 95 pounds. She was a few years older than I am right now when she achieved that goal. She did it the right way – eating well, getting more active – and then, pow. The world caved in. Her father passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack.
And she regained the weight. All of it.
Because somehow, throughout the process of losing the weight, she hadn’t figured out the coping skills associated with taking care of herself, even in times of acute stress and sadness.
I call it the “boomerang effect.” We lose weight or start an exercise program or otherwise change our lives for the better, but secretly we’re afraid that someday, something will happen – and we’ll boomerang back to Square One.
That doesn’t have to happen. As long as we learn how to catch ourselves from falling apart when the world gets sad.
So, what went well last week? I caught myself after the three-dessert Wednesday, and the poor-me Thursday that found me envious of others’ success instead of working diligently towards my own. (That’s monkey mind coming into play: let’s worry about what we have no control over, instead of focusing on what we do have control over!)
How did it happen? I have a habit of writing down what I eat and how much I exercise. I sometimes forget to write down some things I’m eating – it’s by no means a 100%-perfect habit – but it helps my awareness around food a whole lot. And when I saw that crazy Wednesday on paper, and realized I’d heard about my friend’s death on Tuesday afternoon, it all made sense.
By Friday, I realized a scheduled coffee with a friend was presenting me with a crazy-good workout opportunity. (Preview of coming attractions: it’s going to be featured in tomorrow’s Workout of the Week post.) And I grabbed on to that opportunity, and got back to life by moving. And by talking with my friend, telling her I was sad, telling her it had been a hard week because I was mourning a death. And continuing to move. By the end of that day, I had gone out for a wonderful run, listening to great music along the way, got hugs and support from a friend, and got a bunch of work done as well.
The doldrums lifted. I am still sad for my friend’s passing. I will probably be sad for a while more. But today, I will move, too. Exercise always helps, no matter what ailment is gnawing at us. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl (or swim, or lift weights, or take a quiet yoga class, or whatever gets you moving). The sadness passes. And when it does, we’re left with our strong bodies and minds intact, ready for whatever is waiting for us around life’s next corner.
The boomerang effect still happens, in other words. It’s just that now, its trajectory is much, much shorter. Write down what you’re feeling. Reach out to a friend. Exercise. And enjoy every day to its fullest, for we never really know how long we have on this little planet of ours.
Now get out there and get your extra-awesome workout on.
Recent Every48 workouts: Friday’s RUN was amazing – an easy five miles to coffee with a friend, an hour and a half of spending time with her and talking about lots of great things, and then an easy five mile run home with some walking breaks of two minutes each. Impromptu weight training session along the way when I helped a guy whose car had stalled to push his car into a park-and-ride place to get him out of traffic.