Single Mom Slice of Change:
Into the Gym, Out Of My Head


It’s been a couple of weeks since we last checked in – how have they treated you? Me? Let’s see in just one week:

–          One family member has confessed to having suicidal thoughts, and has asked for help.

–          My doctor says that the mass on my thyroid is getting bigger – guess who gets another biopsy!

–          A different family member has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

–          The recent political uproar has revealed several family members (remember I’m mixed race) as being truly racist… and ignorant.

–          My toilet sprung a leak inside the tank I didn’t know about and I now have a $300 water bill

–          I stubbed my pinkie toe on the corner of the couch.

–          Four different people said I hadn’t done things even as I looked at proof that they had in fact been done.

In all honesty, it was the pinky toe on the couch that made me curse the most… out loud.

I’m tired. So very tired. Emotionally I have nothing left to give. I feel like if I have just one more thing fall upon my shoulders I will crumble into a boneless heap and… I don’t know what.

I won’t lie – I ate. A lot. I cried. A lot. I curled up on the couch and considered running away from home. A lot.

Related: Single Mom Slice of Change: Weight Loss and Stumbling Blocks 

But eating is a temporary fix and sets me back in my less than month old goal. Crying hurt my throat, and gave me a migraine. Running away from home would leave the people who have asked me for help high and dry.

So, Sunday morning, I got up, took a shower, and headed to the gym. Not because I had any overwhelming urge to sweat – but I needed something to do – I needed out of the house – I needed to escape my own thoughts.

At the gym, no one knows me. No one wants to talk to me or ask if I’m okay, no one cares that it’s hits of the 90s blaring in my headphones, and… I can wear myself out. Yup, that’s right, I’m learning to find solace in something other than beef stroganoff – or nachos – or potato soup – or cheesecake – or… well… you get the idea.

In the weight room I went a few pounds heavier than I normally do. I couldn’t punch my way through the pain eating at my soul, but I could push through it. Sure, I almost fell out of the car afterward when I stopped at the grocery store for lemons, but I was too tired to cry.

It worked so well that day, I did it again – and again – by the time I got home, the majority (not all) of my stress had been worked out.

Related: Single Mom Slice Of Change: Finding Motivation 

Now, don’t get me wrong – this isn’t my first attempt at gym life. I’ve been decent-ish about working out. But it was a chore, something I had to do. Now, it’s my escape. After the first machine, if I can still hear thoughts, I turn up the music. After the second, I add more weights. After the third, I do an extra set of reps.

If by the time I’ve completed a circuit, I still have the urge to cry, I hit the treadmill. Yeah, I know, some people say get your cardio in, and others say treadmills are useless. It’s easy to get confused… unless… you’re trying to wear yourself out. Then, I don’t care who says what.

What I care about is that by the time I get home, I’m too tired to stress. Which means I fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, wake up more rested, and only cry about three times a day instead of twenty-three.

Am I doing it for the right reasons, for the health benefits? Nah, but I’m going, and I feel better after I go, and it’s hard to look down on that. The stress will pass, eventually, but in the meantime, I’m learning new ways to deal with it.

So, tell me… when your world starts to fall apart, what habit – good habit – do you have that helps better your mood, your health, your ability to cope? Do you find yourself looking forward to it? Do you keep at it when your crisis has passed?