Recently, I have made a renewed commitment to simplify my life and make a determined effort to get my life in balance. All the demands that came along with writing a book, editing, and work deadlines coupled with the normal responsibilities of taking care of my family and homeschooling my little ones left me feeling like my life had become chaotic. The past couple of months, I’ve been purposeful to make needed changes in my life. I was so excited when my friend Salida contacted me about writing a new series for Time 2 $ave. You’ll be seeing more from Salida every other week in her new series all about life on purpose. I’m so excited, and can’t wait to dive in!
I’ve been in kind of an emotional funk lately. I stopped exercising about ten weeks ago, two weeks before I had an elective surgery. I got clearance to start exercising again a couple of weeks ago, but it has been hard to get back in the groove of going to the gym. As I have thought more about my physical health this week, I tracked the funk I have fallen into soon after I stopped exercising.
Whoever said, “It’s the start that stops most people,” was so right. Getting motivated to do anything different can be hard—especially when it comes to our physical health. We can make up an infinite number of excuses for neglecting to take care of our bodies. And the hard truth is that we are only hurting ourselves. Now that I can exercise again, I’ve had a hard time finding the will. I have found countless excuses that have kept me off the treadmill.
An informative article on the Mayo Clinic website athttp://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043 explains that exercise may release “feel good” brain chemicals, reduce immune system chemicals, and increase body temperature—all of which probably reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. In addition, exercise can increase your confidence as you meet goals, increase your social circle, and provide some healthy distraction from your worries.
Exercise doesn’t mean putting on your best muscle tank and weight belt and rushing out to the gym. Nor does it mean lacing up your running shoes for the next 5k. Exercise can be loosely described as any activity that gets you moving more than you are now—taking your kids to the park, cleaning, walking the dog, or letting Gillian Michaels whip you into shape on DVD. Find what you enjoy or you will never stick with it. Next, set some realistic goals and enlist a friend to join you on your new journey.
When I looked back on my emotional funk, I noticed that I started eating more carbs and less healthy fruits and vegetables once I stopped exercising. I believe this is because I turned to food for comfort instead of using exercise as a healthy release for stress. And the more junk I ate, the worse I felt. I beat myself up for eating junk and then ate more junk to comfort myself. It doesn’t take a psychologist to see that this is a self-defeating pattern! Sadly, as I fell into this feeling of defeat, I avoided quality time with God.
Well, no more for me! To quote GI Joe, “Knowing is half the battle,” and once I saw the history of my funk, I was determined to get back on track—or treadmill. So far, I have exercised twice this week and my eating habits have changed, too. I’ve found that I don’t turn to the carbs when I don’t feel as stressed. And as I’m less stressed, I’m more able to focus on my time with God who renews my hope and my spirit. My time on the treadmill is some of my favorite prayer and worship time as the music of Sidewalk Prophets, Jeremy Camp, and Tenth Avenue North fills my ears. How much I have missed this!
There is more to our physical health than just physical activity. But as scientific research shows, physical activity is one great way to get you on track to becoming a whole and healthy you. How can you get moving this week? Figure out one activity you enjoy and make it a point to schedule it into your day. Remember, it’s the start that stops most people. Will you commit to putting one foot in front of the other?
Salida Brooks, M.A. Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Services Provider
Salida is an Independent Counselor at Summit Counseling Center, a ministry of Ridgedale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Liberty University. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and has experience treating depression and bipolar disorder, self-harming issues, anxiety, abuse, trauma issues, family and relationship struggles, low self-esteem, anger and aggression. Her primary focus in counseling is adolescents and women. Her passion is ministering to the hearts of hurting people through biblically-based counseling.
Salida is a frugal shopper and enjoys the challenge and satisfaction of couponing. She also enjoys sewing and other creative endeavors. Her great love is spending time with family and friends. Date nights with dinner and relaxing at home are a joy with her husband of 12 years, Craig. Cooking and shopping are her favorite activities with their 4 year-old little girl, Leah.