I think that it is important to take a moment and share my story with you. How else can you trust the ideas and suggestions that I share with you?!
My life had been going pretty much as I had planned: college followed by graduate school followed by getting married followed by two kids. I was a stay-at-home mom, had been asked to serve on my children's preschool board of directors (The first step in becoming the Super Mom PTA President I had always envisioned myself being!), had just been elected to serve on our church denomination's district women's committee and was having a blast serving side-by-side with my husband in youth ministry. Then the rug was pulled out from under us.
My husband began experiencing multiple chronic health problems which eventually led to his going on disability and my needing to return to work full-time to support our family. At that point my emotional eating tendencies kicked into high gear and I began packing on the pounds. After four stress-filled years, my weight hit 242 pounds (I thought for a long time if I should include that number, but it was what it was and it is no longer!).
That's when all of the "you should" comments started. "Lisa, you should really eat better." "Lisa, you don't look too good. You should get more sleep." "Lisa, you should exercise. You'll feel so much better." "Lisa, you should carve out some time for yourself." You should! You should! You should! Blah Blah Blah! Those are two words that I can't stand to hear.
In September of 2009 I went for my annual physical. My weight was up again. My blood pressure was up again even on medication. My cholestoral was up and my doctor was seriously considering medication. YIKES! He launched into one of his "You should" lectures. He told me, "You have three factors that are contributing to your health problems. 1) Stress. You have a chronically ill husband, two young children and you work full time. That's not changing anytime soon. 2) Family History. You can't change that either. 3) Your weight. You CAN control that, but you have to make the choice to do something about it." I tucked his comments in the back of my brain and went on with my life.
Then, one night in November of that year I was loading the dishwasher. The kids were in bed and Jamison was watching TV. I can't remember exactly what had happened that evening, but I remember feeling extremely stressed and angry at my situation. At that moment I knew I had to get out of that house. I didn't put on a coat. I didn't tell Jamison what I was doing. I simply walked out the front door . . . .
This sounds like a good place to pause for now.
One thing I want to point out is that everyone has different stressors in their lives. I can look to my left and find someone who's life appears much easier than mine. I can look to my right and find someone who's life appears much more difficult than mine. For you, my story would fit into one of those two categories. You are either letting out a huge sigh of relief becuase your life doesn't seem too bad anymore. Or, you are rolling your eyes because you know that I have absolutely no idea what stress is when compared to your life. What I've learned as I've contemplated my story is that your stressors are just as important and real to you as my stressors are to me no matter where they fall on my stress scale. This has helped me to stop comparing myself to others and worrying about what others are thinking. As a result, I find that I am able to truly focus on ME and MY health.
I leave you with a quote that I have hanging in my office:
"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Marie Robinson