Last week the nation exploded in violence, with two black men killed by police in two states in a single day—followed by a horrific ambush of police officers in Dallas by a sniper who said he wanted to kill white people, especially police. He killed five and injured seven more.
I, along with most people I know, was sent reeling emotionally, filled with anguish, anger, confusion and despair over the senseless violence gripping our nation.
And these events came hard on the heels of 250 people dead in Baghdad, a horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida, that left dozens dead, and other acts of violence too numerous to mention here. It all took its toll on me emotionally.
But I decided to take my own advice, and use exercise for stress relief. I also unplugged from my electronics for two days, which helped immensely.
I headed to Northern New Mexico, where I spent most of my childhood. I visited a friend, then the next day I went to Abiquiu, where I checked out Ghost Ranch for the first time ever.
I hiked three miles in the hot sun, until my legs ached and I couldn’t think about anything else except where I was putting my feet, so I didn’t fall down. The hike back down especially was fraught with danger and I did not want to slip on loose rocks and fall.
I did not fall. I hiked, looked at beautiful mountains and beautiful rocks, saw and heard birds and other wildlife, and felt so much better when I was done.
I had never been to Abiquiu Lake either, and that was my next stop, where I spent a few hours basking in the sun and swimming, one of my very favorite ways to get exercise. It was fantastic, healing and renewing physically, mentally and spiritually.
As the summer has progressed, my routine has gone by the wayside. My regular trips to the gym, my running practice, even my crazy dancing. And the more the summer wears on, the more I want that routine back, so instead of simply wishing for it, I started to put it back into place this week.
The more exercise I get, the more exercise I want—and especially with the stresses of the past week, my body was craving movement. It felt like a sigh of relief to get sore, to feel the familiar push to go a little farther and try a little harder. I never would have believed this would happen to me a few years ago. Exertion feels familiar.
I did my meal prep on Sunday, meaning my lunches during the week are planned and portioned—and homemade. That also means I’m much less likely to go for junk.
After all that exercise over the weekend, on Monday I jumped back in with an early morning session of crazy dancing with weights, something I’ve really missed doing! I’m sore right now as I type.
Tuesday is the deadline day for this newspaper, and I work very long hours. If I can, I’ll hit the treadmill at my office a couple of times during the day for just a few minutes to move myself around.
On Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll be going to either the gym or the track with my daughter, who is also craving a return to our routine. Friday is ladies night at Stone Age Climbing Gym, and we’ll be going to that, too.
I’m not sure yet what I’ll do over the weekend, but next Monday I have committed myself to a cardio class at 6:15 a.m. Wish me luck!
The really cool thing about all of this is that I almost always feel like I am making no progress. But for me to be craving exercise so much that I seek it out is a new thing for me, and I’m really excited about that.
For me to turn to exercise for stress relief—which in previous times I might have sought mainly through emotional eating—is a huge step for me and I’m thrilled that I didn’t have to talk myself into it. And it worked. Of course it worked. Everybody knows it works.
The revival of my workout routine also feels very comforting, and I’m happy to be getting back on track. There will always be something to derail me, but my stubbornness serves me well in that respect. I will persevere. As many times as I fall, I will get back up and try again. This is my quality of life we’re talking about.
What are your strategies for getting back on track when something derails your plans? Contact me at 505-286-1212 or email@example.com, or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.