Hi, it’s Amanda! A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of vulnerable posts that detailed some of my personal ups and downs. I wanted to write an update on how I’m doing. You can read those previous posts here:
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I’m proud to say that I have made a few changes that have changed the way I approach my life in a much healthier way.
For example, in the past when my mood would spiral into darkness, I’d treat my sadness with food or media. I would feel helpless and just hope that the darkness would disappear, rather than fight against it.
But now, I am taking a more pro-active approach to fighting for my health rather than treating my symptoms with more unhealthy behaviors. My every-day goal now is to keep my entire being healthy so that I have the strength, discipline, and attitude to fight back when my dark moods come. I’m happy to say, it’s been working.
My Three Simple Steps to Keep Myself Emotionally, Mentally and Physically Fit:
#1 Mange Stress in a Healthier Way:
I have always struggled bringing WAY too much unnecessary stress in my life!!!! Ever since I was a young girl, I chose a bad habit of worrying and fretting about every little thing. Even if these scenarios I’d imagine would never happen to me, I would still stress out about them.
I’d worry about what I ate — What people thought of me — If I was living life the right way — What God thought about me. I would worry about months of deadlines at work, when I really only had to worry about accomplishing one deadline at a time. Rather than using my mental energy to accomplish my goals, I chose to use that energy to stress out over my fear of failure.
This constant, unneeded stress eventually led me to put so much weight and damage on my body that I didn’t feel mentally or physically healthy at times.
So about two months ago, I started to take back my mind by disciplining myself to only focus on one day at a time. I simply stopped worrying about all the unknowns that could happen tomorrow.
It was amazing how much my health and life began to change from that one simple step. I now remind myself on a daily basis that I can only do so much. It’s impossible for me to be perfect at everything. As long as I do my best, my best will be enough.
Since implementing my new stress-reducing plan, I have become much more efficient at work and in my personal life. My overall stress level has dropped dramatically. I am crushing my deadlines earlier and earlier, and I am handling projects so much more efficiently.
It feels so great to be pro-active handling my stress, and I feel like I’ve taken back my life.
#2 A Weekly Exercise Routine:
This winter we bought our first gym membership at our local community center. I’ve been going there 5-6 times per week since November. Every night, and on weekend mornings, we go there to escape the house, lift weights, do a cardio workout, or swim in the pool or hot tub.
(This is Bill: We talk a lot about financial advising on this blog, but our gym membership has been one of the best mental-health investments we’ve ever made over the last 6 years. We will be writing a longer post on it soon because our membership has been worth every penny and more.)
All of this frequent exercise has done amazing things for my mind, emotions, and spirit. My body looks and feels the best it’s ever felt too!!!
Working out has given me the confidence that I can do things I’ve never felt possible before. It’s made me feel powerful, physically fit, and totally in control of my future for the first time in my life.
But the biggest lesson I’ve learned, is that you can’t succeed in life without feeling some pain.
For too long, I was afraid of pain. I always thought too much pain would break, hurt, or destroy me, so I avoided it. Therefore, I always sought an “easy path” through life, and then became disappointed when the “easy path” never led me to the great adventures I wanted to live.
But I’ve finally seen the light at 30-years-old: Without experiencing healthy pain, it’s impossible to build the muscle and stamina to grow into the person you are meant to be. I now realize pain is the medicine that you need to create your dreams and desires.
I’ve learned all of this working out in the gym this winter. Now when my muscles ache, and I feel like wanting to give up, that’s when I know the magic is happening. Every time I do one more rep after I want to give up, that’s when my strength and vision begins to grow. Ultimately, I’ve learned that I am not growing unless I am feeling some healthy pain along the way. Embracing pain — rather than avoiding it — is a massive step closer to the live I want to live.
#3 Eating the best I’ve Ever Eaten:
I started to eat better by experimenting with intermittent fasting. I’ve struggled with stress and my emotions my whole life, and I’ve always used food to medicate my dark moods. But solving one problem (stress), with another addiction (unhealthy food), would just cause me to spiral into a deeper pit.
Because I’m learning that solving a problem with an unhealthy decision doesn’t solve my problem. It just covers it up and makes it worse.
I am ultimately learning that I am the root of all of my problems. To get better, I need to treat ME, and stop trying to cure all of symptoms with temporary and unhealthy band-aids.
Intermittent fasting helped me reduce the windows where I could think about food. With less time to rely on food to solve my problems, I had to learn how to solve my problems on my own. That step freed up my mind to become aware of other things going on in my life.
Once I felt confident in my food disciplines, I cut out sugar and caffeine next. I just felt I needed a change, and changing my eating habits felt like a good start. Once those two things were disciplined, I reduced my gluten intake to see if it would make me feel better. It totally has.
One thing led to another, and in the last three months, I feel like I’ve become a different person. I no longer look for more unhealthy addictions to fix my moods. Instead, I look for ways to fix myself so that my moods will naturally improve as a result of being a better person.
Now that I’m combining a better diet, with physical exercise, I feel like I am in the middle of a massive personal growth spurt. I’ve learned that discomfort, challenge, and discipline — even though they cause me to feel pain — are the things that will create my better life.
What is the personal vision I am chasing? I want to be as strong as an oak tree, with it’s roots so deep in strength that I won’t even be moved when the winds of the earth blow against me.
I used to give up way too easily. I shriveled up when things got hard. This is the main reason why I was never able to achieve my full potential in my past. I am tired of being afraid and having regrets.
The simple steps of reducing stress, exercising regularly, and eating healthy are the keys that have unlocked me from the struggles in my past. I am beginning to make it. I am finding what I’ve been looking for.
What are some of the keys that have helped you unlock your door to a better, happier life?
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You might sign up for the “Daily Stoic” email.
To go with your exercise and diet changes, these daily short emails teach you how to think about yourself and the world. Stoicism in modern times can REALLY help how you look at things.
The Art of Stoic Joy is a book you could read on modern stoicism. It goes well with finances, diet, exercise and mental health.
Congrats on the big changes!
Thank you so much! I have not heard of Stoicism, but I will take a look at it. Thanks.