The Phoenix

This week has been mentally challenging for me as I have been gearing up for a 6-week health and fitness challenge that I signed up for.

I suppose I should back it up just a bit and provide some context. I have been overweight for as long as I can remember. I have had some highs and lows with my weight but even at my lowest, I would have still been classified as ‘overweight’. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome when I was 22 and was told to accept the fact that I would always be “bigger”. In October of 2015, I made the decision to quit smoking (Best decision!) and I anticipated that my weight would be affected because of it. So I thought I could get ahead of any potential impacts to my figure by committing to a healthy eating regimen BEFORE I actually quit smoking. It was a sound decision, rooted in logic and in theory it should have worked, except it didn’t. I was eating better than I ever had in my life and yet I was still gaining weight. Long story short, after seeing multiple doctors and specialists I was told that I had developed hypothyroidism and that my liver was enlarged. I was also experiencing gastrointestinal problems that were severely impacting my daily life and none of the doctors could find the exact cause or provide any real relief of the symptoms for that matter. I had been gaining weight slowly throughout this process which was about a year and a half and was quickly approaching my rock bottom (in terms of weight). Needless to say, I fell into the trap of self-pity coupled with self-loathing for the image that was reflecting back at me in the mirror, and I gave up.

Flash forward to present day where I finally said enough is enough and signed up for the challenge. I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment that I made that decision but I’m not sure that I can. I had talked about doing something for almost a year, but there was always a reason (or multiple reasons for that matter) that I couldn’t. Then a few months ago my son, who is 14, asked if I would go to a movie with him. My daughter was at her dad’s for the night and I had been wanting to see the movie he suggested (Jumanji) so I agreed and off we went to the theaters. Well, I had no idea that the Jumanji reboot would be as popular as it was – the place was PACKED! (and rightfully so – The movie was awesome). Every single seat in the theater was filled and there I was uncomfortably squshing my very large frame into a not so large seat. I started to get symptoms of a panic attack and it took every ounce of strength I could summon up for me to keep myself in the seat and attempt to enjoy the movie for the sake of my son. I think that moment was likely the turning point that sent me on the path to the 6-week challenge because the panic attack symptoms shook me. I have never suffered from an anxiety disorder or symptoms in the past and it was unsettling to realize that the anxiety symptoms were being brought on because of the way I looked and felt about myself. My mental health was being affected by my lack of physical health and I didn’t know what to do. I thought back to all the events I had missed taking my kids to because I didn’t want to go out in public, all the family pictures I was missing from because I couldn’t stand to see my own image, all the enjoyment in life that I was depriving myself of and I knew I had to do something.

I’m fortunate enough to have come into contact with a health and fitness trainer through a fundraising event for a local organization that I volunteer with, and I started to follow him on Facebook. He happened to own his own fitness studio and was running his brand new 6-week challenge. I thought about signing up but I was too chicken and instead watched the transformations of the ones brave enough to take that step play out on Facebook. I watched the first 2 challenges go by and decided to make the appointment to go and see the gym and hear more about the program. I’m not going to lie, I was in full panic mode on the drive to the information appointment, thank goodness my mother was driving lol. It was extremely hard for me to even walk through the door but by the end of my appointment, I had made the commitment to finally put my health first and get my life back on track!

So back to the first sentence of this post, I have been trying to plan out all my meals, make grocery lists accordingly, get any necessities that I was missing and mentally prepare for tomorrow’s initial weigh-in and the first of the progress pics, YIKES!. The butterflies in my stomach are doing full blown advanced aerial acrobatic routines and my legs get a little weak when I think about it. However, I haven’t been this excited for anything in a very long time! I even made a joke to my mom that I must be twisted because I’m actually looking forward to the muscle soreness after my first training session – I know, crazy right? The way I see it though is that pain represents my transformation. Change is hard and can often be painful. The pain that will come as I push my body to do things it’s never done before, represents the old me burning away and the new me beginning to emerge (much like the Phoenix, just slower). I can’t wait to begin!

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