Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Getting my feet moving again
This last year has been not one that was particularly healthy for me. I worked more than full-time at a Level 1 trauma center while completing my CPE residency. Working at a hospital alone is stressful, aside from the constant critical self-examination of Clinical Pastoral Education. Additionally, I was in a long-distance relationship, and I got married two weeks before the end of my residency. Needless to say, exercise was not a huge priority.
My health suffered. I ate pretty much all my feelings. I frequently felt tired and sluggish. My sleep suffered. My asthma was dangerously uncontrolled. I was in a car accident that injured my back and prohibited exercise for some time. I ate junk, with just the intent of filling my stomach and moving on to the next thing. Lack of exercise also did no favors for my mental and emotional health, particularly while working in such an intense environment. And because your thirties are not the same as your twenties, I just can't do that sort of thing to my body anymore and expect to feel good and bounce back.
So, I recently got my feet moving again. I joined a gym, and have been enjoying immersing myself into physical activity and in breaking a sweat. I know that a gym is a luxury expense, but I am putting it into a "necessary" expense now, so that it does not have greater costs later in my life. There is something about the ritual of the gym that helps me to keep regular exercise part of my life. I have a yoga mat and hand weights and resistance bands at home, and yet, I always manage to find something else to do instead of working out. The dogs love walking, but that is more of a leisure activity for us, because there is lots of investigating and sniffing that happens when we walk.
Another side effect that appears with exercise is that I feel more connected to my body. Sometimes I feel like I am an extremely powerful mind unfortunately attached to a body. My mind seems to be running about 10 steps ahead of my body and I rarely connect with myself. The pure physicality of exercise forces me to be in my body. Because otherwise I might fall off the treadmill or drop weights on myself.
So here I am, back to slogging it out at the gym most days. I am not approaching this return to regular exercise as a form of weight loss (although I certainly hope that happens), but rather as a way to return to myself. For the last couple years I have been part of an online group of clergy types and friends who work out and post our encouragement for one another and share our triumphs and our sorrows. I have been thankful for this group of friends who celebrate with me as I make this return to health.