Challenging My Anxiety Around Exercise

Hello Fitties! I’m going to share with you something very personal and I hope that you approach it without judgement with rather with open arms and support. Pretty please?

Okay.

Deep breath.

Where do I begin?

I love a good sweat. I love a good cardio session, even though this was taken right before a slow, bodyflow class.

I love a good sweat. I love a good cardio session, even though this was taken right before a slow, bodyflow class.

Alright. I love exercise. I love how it makes me feel. I love how strong I become and I love that it’s a self-improvement tool. I am all about the gains of physical exercise. Actually, I am all about the gains in any kind of skill, whether that be through dancing, singing, acting…the list goes on. I’m afraid of losing precious capabilities I’ve worked so hard to acquire. I’m not willing to let go. Exercise is one of those things that should never be dreaded; I think that is a horrible and unsustainable mentality for long-term success. And yet sometimes, or maybe I should say more often than not, I get driven to into that kind of mentality and force myself to exercise because I’m scared of losing fitness.

Let’s go back. When I first embarked on the health and fitness journey, I made small goals and conquered them, such as “do pilates for 10 minutes today“, or “run for 30 minutes straight, you can do it!“. Naturally, I started to raise the bar and made heavier challenges, and that’s how I built up my stamina and strength. The secret to success is to keep raising the bar, and never settle for less. I do believe in the mantra, “no pain, no gain”. Undoubtedly, challenging yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone is the best way to become your better self. My dream was to become an elite athlete. Even though I’m too old to ever achieve something like that, there’s no reason why I can’t train myself like one. An athlete pushes boundaries and trains hard every day. Granted, they have rest days but generally that’s what they do. One of the greatest athletes I admire is Tina Muir. She is just so brilliant; just look at her personal records! Tina inspires me like no other runner and she continues to improve by raising the bar. I also kept raising the bar for myself. I’m proud of building such a great fitness base, but I also know that if I don’t keep up my regime, the base will lower. The thought of losing what standard is scary! I’m scared of losing the base I worked hard to build on. I don’t like to let such hard efforts go to waste. Now if I don’t work out, I get anxious and my day simply doesn’t feel right without it. It’s not that I was overexercising to begin with; it’s a bad mentality built out of an originally good one, but the fear of losing something makes me go worry. It’s time to get battle the anxiety monster plaguing everything I do in my day to day life.

Let me tell you something: I woke up today feeling terrible. I couldn’t sleep last night due to a fever I caught from my little brother. My feet felt cold and yet my body was burning up and I tossed and turned to find a comfortable position on my bed, but couldn’t. I woke up several times during the night with back pain because I was curling up into a ball to find a comfortable sleeping position. I consulted with Maria, my wellness expert, at 3:00am in the morning and got a reply saying I should not exercise today, due to lack of sleep and to take my magnesium pill in the morning.

My initial reaction was, oh great.

With no cardio, the least I could do was some vigorous yoga or pilates, but now that was out of the question too. I’m almost tempted to go outside and run today, since the weather is nice, but I gotta control myself. I feel like if I didn’t do anything useful during the day, the the day is wasted and I’ve backtracked.

And you know what? Maybe I have to stop being scared. Maybe it’s time a take a risk and challenge my anxiety around not being “productive” enough. What I consider productive is complied of exercise and writing blog posts,  but you know what? I’m not going to suddenly lose everything I’ve worked for. I’m not going to drop 20 pounds of muscle, or suddenly gain 20 pounds of fat. I’m putting myself through this because my body is saying, “I need a small break! Let me work on recovering my adrenal system!”. As you might know, I have progesterone levels, something that’s been causing amenhorrea for a very long time. When the adrenal system is fatigued either through emotional or physical stress(in my case, it’s both and I’m banned from cardio for a few weeks), it steals from sex hormones to compensate to deal with stress, thus why I haven’t been getting my period.

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I think it’s the perfect time to seek out places I’ve always wanted to see and challenge my anxiety on “not being productive”. Because what is productive anyway? On an academic level, it’s getting tasks done. For me, that usually meant maintaining or building up an even higher fitness base, but right now, ‘productive’ is when I finally find peace within myself, no matter what I do. I was reading an article on the Fitness Blonde called, “Happiness is a Choice“, and I felt tears wallowing up in my throat because I knew it was true. I knew deep down that I am tormented by my own monsters. The anxiety monster, the depression monster, and the identity monster–I still don’t know who I am and what my purpose is in this world. I need to spend time finding myself, and instead of sitting home daydreaming, actually going out to live my daydreams and let go putting a financial cap on my happiness that’s been holding me back for so long. I’ve been putting my dreams off until tomorrow because I don’t think I am worth the money to spend on making it come true. I’ve been sad for so, so long.When I feel happy living life, anything could be considered productive. I think this no-exercise business is a sign from the universe to take time off my type A-personality and onto type C– the laid back, I don’t care and life is good type of attitude. Sounds easy right? It’s not; it’s just as hard for a hard worker to stop their job as it’s hard for someone lazy to begin theirs. I demand myself to check off a personal to-do list when really, I dont have to do any of those–I just push myself to because I’m scared of losing the fitness base I have want to maintain. It’s doing more harm to me now than good. It’s time to settle down and focus on the things I’ve always wanted to do but never allowed myself to.

Yes, I’m going to be selfish. I’m going to splurge a little money on myself because I f**king deserve it!

This is going to be a mental battle I am determined to win. As much as I hate it and would never preach this to other people because I believe in tough love and working hard, I have to preach to myself that at this point procrastination isn’t a crime; I can always get back on the fitness wagon later. What’s more important now is battling amenhorrea and the letting go of my fear losing things. I can only gain from this experience, so in the end, it’s not a loss!

Letting go just might be the only way I can find myself again.

Have you ever lost yourself? How did you find yourself again? Do you get exercise anxiety?


 

  • I am so touched by this post. It’s like I am reading a blog post I wrote. This is going to be a long journey for you; just like it is me. We both have had bad anxiety and depression issues, and to truly discover ourselves is going to take time. You are on the right path. You have admitted your weaknesses and you know what you need to do. I am glad you wrote about becoming “selfish” because you need too. That is what is going to allow you to chase your dreams as freely as you want. You have to live for yourself. Once you start working towards that, you are going to see a tremendous and positive change in your life.

    • Thank you so much, you’re the one who inspired me to write this post! I originally threw the idea away because my thoughts were all mumble-jumble with it, but writing it out has made it clear.

      I hope to join you on the other side of life! 🙂

  • Vangie

    You can do it! It may not seem like it now, but after a good resting period, our bodies come back with so much more energy and strength:) Keep it up:)

  • Weight4Baby

    I related a lot to your post. I have struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life. It lead to me turning to food and spending money I didn’t have because I didn’t know how to deal with discomfort. I decided this past year that I was going to just start making gentle changes. You are so right that you deserve to be happy. I have had to learn to slowly trust myself. It is a process.

  • JoannaMurnan

    Taking a step back and taking care of yourself can be so difficult – it’s wonderful that you’re aware of what you need to do, even if it’s hard!

  • I can definitely relate to the exercise-related anxiety and the fear of being unproductive. It’s so hard to let go as a type-A person, but be encouraged – you won’t lose your fitness by taking a little break. Just eat reasonably healthy and you won’t gain weight 20-lbs either 🙂 I eat “healthy” but still love a good cappuccino!

    After giving birth to my son, I was so anxious about losing the baby weight and getting back to running again. Looking back now, I know that my body AND my mind needed a break from exercise! No matter what you’re going through in life, our minds and bodies do need rest to keep from burn out.

    When I did lose myself and was at the peak of my exercise anxiety, I changed my focus to rely on God instead and pray about everything weighing down my heart (Philippians 4:6-7). Focusing on God and giving Him control in my life has truly changed everything – I enjoy running more, I’m less afraid to rest (it’s still sometimes a struggle!), and the worries of life don’t weigh me down as much!

  • natiann123

    Such a great post. I can totally relate. But fitness is a lifestyle, not something we do for a few weeks or months. We have to let ourselves have rest days, time off, in order to be able to sustain it full time. You rock girl!

  • Kekibird

    Yes, the anxiety over working definitely does the opposite of what working out should do for you, in the mental health sense. Instead of feeling relieved and pumped, being anxious over not working out/working out just adds unnecessary tension. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  • Hi there! I just found your blog recently and am inspired by your story and your struggles. We’re all a work in progress, I too have suffered from exercise anxiety and other general anxiety issues in the past. Sending much love and I definitely respect what you’re feeling to move on in life. You definitely deserve it, as we all do, to live a full life filled with happiness and no regrets.

  • Thank you for sharing, Linda! I think it’s such a blessing that you’re learning to let go whether you feel ready or not. Like some people said already, fitness is obviously a lifestyle for you anyway so in the end your hard work isn’t going to get un-done like your fears are telling you they will. Keep it up and let’s all learn to rest! The feeling of not being productive is one of the greatest challenges our society is facing in this generation, but how awesome it would be to let ourselves just BE and be LOVED.. <33

    • Our society always wants results, so we all push ourselves to meet those standards. It’s time to step back and recenter myself away from that before I engage in it again!

  • Lisa Christine

    Life is a journey, enjoy the process! It’s always healthy to take a step back and look at your big picture. Do what makes you happy and know that it’s always enough!

  • Heather @ Life In Leggings

    You touched on the exact advice I was going to throw out there to you! Sometimes, you just have to listen to what your body is telling you. Rest days are essential, and a lot of times, they aren’t planned. They happen, and you just have to roll with it. You’re totally right too… you’re not going to gain 20 pounds or lose your muscle from that one day, either. Remember that! Doing so would take a serious break and lots of lifestyle changes to ever take place, which I don’t see happening at all. I understand it can be frustrating (believe me… I’ve been there with lower back and knee pain before!), but you can’t let it stress you out. You eventually learn to deal and slowly get back to what your body can handle. Sending hugs to you. Thank you for sharing your journey! <3

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