Rebuilding my Temple

Disclaimer: Before I get started, I want to say that I KNOW I’m not fat. I’m within my healthy weight range (barely) for my age (26)/height (5’3”). This series is purely about my journey to get in shape, and the steps I’m taking to get back on track to a healthier lifestyle.

This post will probably be pretty long, and a bit on the serious side.  I haven’t shared this particular part of my life with many people, but I think in this case context is super important.

Up until the last couple of years, I had never weighed more than 120 pounds, worked out a few times a week and had a healthy self-image when it came to my body. I have always been curvy (chesty with some donk), and while it made me a bit self-conscious at times, I was overall okay with it.

After I graduated college in 2010, I had a terrible time finding an entry level job. With student loan payments coming on fast, along with other responsibilities, I needed something to support myself. I started a temp job which was mostly administrative and boring. My loftier plans for what to do with my degree seemed demolished for the unforeseeable future, and I wondered where I went wrong. 

I felt like I failed. We also got the news that Major Dad would be deploying to Afghanistan in the fall, which was hard on my whole family. On top of THAT, LT. Hubs had left for about 6 months of training with the military. We still weren’t even engaged at the time, which was particularly hard because we had been together 3 years and all of my best friends were engaged/married/getting pregnant. I began to feel very left behind.

I eventually developed what I now recognize as depression.  But rather than taking healthy measures to get better, I simply shut down.  After work I would come home, crash on the couch, and have a couple of beers or glasses of wine, accompanied by the oh-so-classy hamburger helper, fast food I picked up on the way home, or pizza. All the while I KNEW I should at least pop in a Pilates video, or run down to the fitness center for a quick go on the elliptical, or at least have a freaking salad. But I just couldn’t bring myself to get up and moving. I’d tell myself I’d start “next week.” Then next week would come and go with no change.

Everything just seemed like too much and I would start to feel super overwhelmed, which was weird because I really wasn’t doing much at all. The absurdity of it just made me even madder at myself, and sadder. It took all my energy to reach a basic level of productivity.  After a typical evening of wallowing I went to bed early most nights just because I didn’t want to think about how lame I was being anymore. Then of course the whole thing would start all over again the next day.

To add salt to the wound, my temp contract wasn't renewed and I found myself unemployed for the first time since I was 17. It felt like things were only getting worse. I was more or less a recluse, and preferred to stay in on weekends. I didn't make much effort to see friends. I cried a lot. It was an endless pity-party I couldn't seem to leave.

LT. Hubs eventually did come home and we did get engaged (hooray!) While I was happy and excited to finally be engaged, I couldn’t shake the depression cloud hovering around me. I continued with the unhealthy habits and on top of that, had lost any sexual appetite. I had gained almost 10 pounds (which is a lot when you’re barely 5’3” and there aren’t many places for the extra weight to go) and felt the least sexy I ever had in my 25 years. This was especially hard for LT. Hubs after being gone for so long. He didn’t understand why, after we’d been apart for months, I didn’t want to kiss or cuddle like I did before he left, or had lost interest in actually going out and doing things. True to form, he remained unwaveringly loving and supportive, but we both knew I had changed and not in a good way. It was taking a toll on our relationship, and making it hard for me to enjoy being engaged and the fun experience of planning a wedding.

About a month before the wedding, I realized I needed to do something. I couldn’t go into a marriage this way. I mean, what new bride doesn’t want sex?? I went to the gyno and he put me on a very low dose of Zoloft. At first I felt ashamed that I needed to be on an anti-depressant. Society has given them such a negative stigma, and I had always been somewhat against them, feeling that there were better, natural alternatives. I still do feel that way to a certain extent, except I’m not ashamed anymore.

And while not everyone in my life supports my decision to be on it (and that's fine)I really do believe it helped me to get out of my slump. I feel more motivated, and don’t get overwhelmed by small day-to-day things like I did before. Also, you aren’t supposed to drink alcohol while you’re on it, because you’ll feel hella sick after. Not proud to admit I ignored the warning a couple of times and trust me, it’s not pretty.

We got married in July 2012, an awesome day of course. We were so blessed that everything went perfectly. 

We had a couple of months of newly-wed bliss, then in September Major Dad deployed, and a couple of weeks later Hubs left for ANOTHER 6 months of Army Schooling. Le Sigh. It was a hard start to newly-wed life. I still felt pretty lonely, but we got Winnie the Pooch to keep me company, and as pain in the ass as puppy-rearing can be, she made me laugh and tested my aptitude for “motherhood”.

Also the medicine helped me a lot. While I still wasn’t the life of the party, I was more social and began to actually use my huge support system of friends and family more.

Fast forward to now. LT Hubs is back again and we’ve finally gotten to a state of normalcy. We’ll be married almost a year in July, and life really has gotten loads better. The company I temped for called me and asked if I wanted a full-time position as the office coordinator. It’s still administrative and doesn’t require a degree, but it’s a job and my boss is awesome. Also, since I’m still on the medicine I don’t drink very often or very much, and try to eat relatively healthfully, so I think that’s helped me maintain rather than continue to gain weight.  But I sit at a desk all day, and besides the occasional trip to the gym, I’m still rather sloth-like.

When I see recent pictures or go by a mirror, I see a reflection of the unhealthy choices I was making back when things weren’t so great, and the bad habits that still linger. I also FEEL a difference in my body. I get winded more easily and have less natural energy than I used to. It’s still difficult for me to “get in the mood” because I don’t feel sexy. And it doesn’t matter how many times hubs tells me I’m “beautiful,” because I don’t feel beautiful. In the not so distant past, I did. I would strut and preen in front of the mirror. I was all, “Damn, girl! I’m hot!” I miss being comfortable in my skin, and the confidence I used to have. And I’m determined to have it back, because confidence is beautiful.

You may have seen this, or something like it, floating around online:

Although some might find it slightly cheesy, I felt really inspired by this image, and so decided to name this series of posts “Rebuilding my Temple.” Along the way I’ll share what I’m learning about how to live more healthfully, and hopefully I’ll be able to share some progress too. It’s not just about looking good, but feeling good. I hope sharing this will help to hold me accountable for the decision to start on a healthy path, and maybe encourage some of you going through a similar situation as well, whether it’s dealing with depression, or trying to get fit, or both.
Much love to ya,

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