I went HARD In the gym today. Harder than I’ve went in a long time, and it was terrible.
I’m certain the two men outside the exercise studio in the weight room thought I was being murdered based on the sounds drifting amongst the dumbbells and weight benches. The grunts and screams of me slinging my fat to and fro echoed out the door at thunder decibels; it really made me upset today of all days the speakers weren’t pumping out their usual crappy pop country to somewhat muffle the soundtrack to my untimely demise.
While I was married and for probably 2 years beyond, I worked out minimum 4-5 days a week. I woke up practically every morning and did at least 20 minutes of cardio just to get my day started. For as useless as my ex-husband was to my personal growth, he did teach me a lot about physical wellness. Having turned his high school wrestling career into pursuing an adult bodybuilding dream, he could hardly remember a time when his life didn’t revolve around picking up heavy things in the gym. Spending most of my waking moments with this person, I naturally began to pick up some of their habits. I’ve always been like this, as most people are. You start to take on the strong qualities and routines of your inner circle. Thankfully, unlike my previous alcoholic college boyfriend, this was a good habit, and lifelong lessons I could utilize to better myself.
‘Wasband’ engrained in me the importance of weighing food, meal prep and counting macros. He taught me how to properly execute a squat and how to operate cable towers. From 2014-2015 I peaked in physical health. I weighed 148lbs and actually had definition on my noodle-like limbs. My back shaped up the most, and I took a great deal of glee videoing over my shoulder while I flexed in the mirror. It was the first and only time in my life I was somewhat carefree wearing a swimsuit.
After we got married, I left bartending for an office job. Going from running back and forth 8-12 hours a day to now walking less than 1000 steps total gave my system quite the shock. The new sedentary position coupled with post-marital contentment was a recipe for disaster. I was still hitting the gym, but I was tired all the time and began to slowly gain weight. By the time he bailed in 2017, I had ballooned back up to 165lbs.
Luckily I am the opposite of a stress eater. In fact, severe emotional trauma has proven to be my only successful diet strategy. Having convinced myself the reason he left was because I was fat, I started running nonstop on the treadmill. By this time I was now in a more mobile sales position instead of office manager, which meant more schedule flexibility. I couldn’t sleep so I would begin my day at 5am pounding on the treadmill and when my eyes wouldn’t close because they were too puffy from crying, I would climb on there after midnight. In the in-between, I would wrap up my work day around 3pm and go straight to the gym where I would lift as much as I could on an empty stomach, then jog some more or do the stepper. I dropped 20lbs in a month. By month 2 of his departure, I was over the relationship, looking great and realized I never truly was “in love” with this person.
It wasn’t long after that I actually did fall in love; madly, stupidly, wrecklessly, sick in love. I was so enamored with this human, I wanted them to only see the most positive version of me, so I maintained a healthy balance of eating well and exercise.
But like every other great thing, that pendulum swung in the opposite direction and I experienced the most devastating, catastrophic event of my life. I truly consider myself having died during that experience, because the person I am now isn’t so much as a glimmer of the person I was before we parted ways. I could not eat. I could not move. All I could do was lay and cry in the dark. I got down to 135lbs, a number I hadn’t seen since middle school. It was the blackest days I’ve ever seen and I truly don’t know how I survived it. In most ways, I didn’t.
Moving to Nashville provided me with the distance I needed to get my life together. Having nowhere to go but up, a new career and a new city to focus on, plus a great gym in my neighborhood clubhouse, the first year of my life I thrived at a healthy 150lbs; that’s normal maintenance weight for me. But thanks to COVID turning everything upside down, being unemployed for 6 months, gym closures and depression, I quickly fell out of the good habits I’d worked so hard to build and slipped back into my old demons of excess. My natural defense for combatting my broken heart was to live like a man – eating, drinking and dating who, what and when I wanted, unapologetically. My life turned into one long unchaperoned bachelorette party, here in bachelorette city Nashville, TN. Starting a new job working 60+ hours a week, my health took lowest priority.
As of the last few weeks, I’m experiencing a rebirth of wellness. I’m sick of being sick; mentally mostly, and physically second. I feel like crap. I’m winded going upstairs; my brain is so poisoned with negativity there are days I don’t see the point in going on. I also stopped taking birth control after 18 years straight so to say my hormones are a dumpster fire would be an understatement. For the last month I’ve had this nagging urge to get better, to BE better, inside out.
The biggest difference, this time it’s not for anyone else. There ARE no outside factors, no partners influencing me. I must do this for myself and no one else, because it doesn’t look like I have anyone else to depend on. I’ve began making myself just GO to the gym, though today was the first time I really pushed myself as hard as I have in years past.
It was brutal. I really thought I was going to throw up or maybe have a heart attack. I’m disappointed with how far I’ve let myself go. The exercises I can no longer perform, the amount of weight I can no longer lift…but I can’t let that stop me. I get so sick of starting over; it seems to be the running theme of my life. For once I would like to see what would happen if I just stuck something out and saw it through. I think this could set in motion other things that will change my entire life.
We can see. All I know is that lying on a mat dry heaving through sweat and tears today felt a lot like lying in my floor dry heaving through sweat and tears 2 ½ years ago; except this physical recovery was much, much quicker than the past emotional trauma. If I can still get up every day and survive that brutality, then I can certainly survive an hour workout.