Tag Archives: exercise

Smelly, Happy Violet

6 May

I’m officially addicted to the gym.

Every morning, before work, I head to the gym at 5:00 am. I do a bit of cardio, then some weight training, before I head to the locker room to shower and dress for the day. Last week, I slept through my alarm and woke up with just enough time to shower and dress before work, and I had to miss the gym. It ruined my whole day: I was irritable and tired because I didn’t get my morning adrenaline rush.

I love my private time at the gym. (And not just because I can shower without a toddler whining in the background.) My work outs put me in touch with my body. I feel every stretch, strain, and ache. I can feel my endurance picking up. I used to hate with a passion dislike running. I would fast-walk on an incline on the treadmill, but if I tried to run, I’d last MAYBE a minute. Maybe. Yesterday, after 30 minutes of high-intensity cardio on the elliptical machine, I headed over to the treadmill for what I thought would be my cool-down. I was bored at my medium walking pace, so I upped the ante and started running. I kept my finger on the speed button, assuming that I’d need to slow down after a minute or so. Three minutes later, I was still running strong. Two minutes after that, I felt a little tired and reduced my speed, but that only lasted a minute or two. I was in awe of myself. Never in my life could I do that before.

In my pre-baby days, I was a gym rat. I had a personal trainer for a while, and I’d go to the gym religiously after work. (Back then, I would sleep until the absolute last minute before I had to get up and go to work. Morning workouts were for early birds and dedicated people, of which I was neither.) The staff all knew me on a first-name basis. I was fit and healthy. (But I still couldn’t run.) When I learned I was pregnant, my OB put me on “pelvic rest” because Pterodactyl hadn’t implanted correctly, and at the top of the No-No List was working out. Once I received clearance to return to my exercise routine, I was so out-of-shape and under-motivated that I just quit. That’s how I managed to gain 51 pounds during my pregnancy; I was a slug. My couch cushions had a better workout than me by simply supporting my fat ass. I’ve been fighting my body all 12 months of the baby’s life to get back into my stylish pre-pregnancy clothes. I’m finally winning.

The gym is my place, during my time. I’m nobody’s mother, wife, teacher, or friend. I’m just me. I can read my Kindle while doing my cardio without interruption. I can focus on my needs entirely, even if it’s just for an hour a day. I sweat, I stink, and I smile.

What do you do when you need “Me Time?” Do you exercise like me? Do you scrapbook/knit/paint? Shop?

Shrink Rap

16 Mar

Mental health is a funny thing. Your body could be operating at 100%, while you run five miles daily and eat nutritious meals, but if your mental health is imperfect, the rest of your world fails you.

I’ve been wondering why we have such a stigma against mental health treatments in our society. My husband and I are both in therapy (for different reasons), and we’re both medicated for what psychologically ails us. My family is completely supportive of our efforts to improve our mental health, just as they are of our efforts to lose weight, eat healthy foods, and exercise. Coming from a family where mental health is valued, I am shocked when I hear of the stigma that accompanies it in the rest of American society. I know my parents and siblings are more liberal than the norm when it comes to their perspectives on psychology and psychiatry, and I’m sure that is why I can’t comprehend how mainstream society perceives it.

What’s the problem, people? Why, as a culture, do we look down on people who treat their mental health with the same focus as they treat their physical health? We’re a society who will admonish a smoker for polluting his lungs, but we choose to look the other way when a loved one is trying to cope with depression, anxiety, or stress without a physician’s supervision.

I have the MyFitnessPal app. Dozens of friends send me encouraging comments online when I remain under my calorie intake goals for the day. When I joined a local gym, I got virtual high-fives all around. When I lose pounds, I’m rewarded with congratulations. Everyone wanted to hear the gory details of my graphic and painful labor and delivery, and congratulated me for pushing the kid out with strength and gusto. But when people find out I’m in therapy, and especially that I’m on medical leave from work to focus on my mental health treatments, they’re astonished. “Mental health isn’t real health – why did you use up all your sick days and take leave?” If you haven’t lived at the mercy of debilitating mental health, you can’t possibly understand.

I even quit breast-feeding for the sake of my mental health. Those of you who read my “Why I Quit Breastfeeding…and that’s OK!” post remember that I was struggling with internal and external triggers for depression after I had my baby. My choices were to either continue breast-feeding and try to fight my demons independently, or to resume my medication schedule and stop breast-feeding. (And yes, they were mutually-exclusive choices. Psych drugs are categorized as a Class 4, which means that they do effect fetuses and do transmit to baby through breast milk.) A stable, healthy mother is so much better for my child than a crazy mother with active mammary glands.

For those readers who are wondering if therapy is a good choice for you: it is. Whether you suffer from extreme depression symptoms or are simply passive-aggressive, therapy is an excellent way to exorcise those problems and get to the root of your troubles, thereby extinguishing them. Contrary to popular belief, therapy IS for everybody. Shit, even my therapist goes to therapy. We all come with baggage. (Reminds me of that episode of How I Met Your Mother where people are carrying around suitcases that say things like “Daddy Issues” or “Oral Fixation” lol) Some people have more problems than others, but I don’t know of one perfectly stable, confident, mentally- flawless person. Insurance is a bitch, and these treatments can be costly, so research what your insurance will and will not cover. Did you know that in many states, Medicaid even covers mental health treatments?

Before you resume passing judgment on those of us who take charge of our mental health, why don’t you check out the benefits that therapy has for yourself? You may find, like I did, that you love it. To those of you who are already working toward psychological Nirvana, mazel tov. You’re making a fantastic choice for your life and the lives of those around you.

© Daisy and Violet 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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