Making My Outside Match My Inside

This is the part that’s going to make you hate me: I’ve never really struggled with my weight. At 35, I’m sure I’m about to (this metabolism has to slow down sometime), but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had it easier than probably most people reading this site. It’s okay, I kind of hate me for it too and I hope you’ll keep reading.

While I haven’t ever struggled with weight, I have struggled with depression and anxiety and it doesn’t take a genius to know that this is at least partly because I spent the first three decades of my life eating burgers and pizza and junk food like they were going out of style. And barbecue! Holy cow, pun intended, the barbecue. When you live in Houston (like I do) good meat is everywhere and seriously—who wants to give up ribs? Or pulled pork or…right. Okay. Back on track.

Unfortunately, one of the problems with never having weight issues is that you grow up believing that food doesn’t really have an effect on you, but the truth is that it does. Even though you might not pack on the pounds, you are wreaking havoc with your blood sugar, which helps you keep your emotions in check.

I’m a stubborn Texan and I’ll admit that I struggled against the idea of a lifestyle change for way longer than I should have. Finally, though, a few years ago I started seeing a therapist and getting my life on track. Here’s the thing most people won’t tell you: if your therapist is any good, going to therapy doesn’t mean automatically scoring meds for depression or other issues. You have to work through a bunch of other possible solutions first.

The first thing my therapist and I worked on was my diet. Don’t let anybody tell you that fruit is an acceptable substitute for Skittles. It isn’t. But now I don’t feel like smashing my windows when I can’t find them so I guess it’s a fair trade.

Of course, diet is just one component of physical fitness. You also have to, like, get up and move around…on purpose. Exercise floods your body with endorphins, which is sort of like “happy juice” and is great for combating depression and anxiety.

It took a while for me to actually start getting fit. I’m not proud of this but my vanity simply wouldn’t let me. I know I’m not the troll my depression and anxiety tell me I am but I also know that I did not hit the genetic lottery. I inherited my dad’s sweat and body hair—two things that actively work against you when you want to look presentable by working out. Think about it: most body hair can be covered up with sweats or cute workout gear but the layers just make you sweat all the more and as an already sweaty person…you get me?

Plus, apparently there’s some whole philosophy about looking good helping you feel good…and the makeover episodes were always my favorite part of America’s Next Top Model.

After doing my research, I got a prescription for Incredible Hulk strength antiperspirant and decided to fork over the cash for laser hair removal.  Houston has lots of places that offer it and is something that I’d been considering for a long time. When you grow hair faster than Robin Williams you go through a lot of razors and waxing gets too expensive if you have to do it every week. I found a place in downtown Houston, that could do it without requiring me to take out a second mortgage on my house, and started the sessions.

I’d like to tell you that I bought a Wii Fit or an XBox Kinect to help start working my muscles while I was making over my appearance, but I didn’t. Instead I waited until my treatments were done, I knew my anti-persperant would work and I had a cute running outfit and then I went out and did Couch to 5K like my life depended on it…which it sort of did.

I’m almost at the point where I can run the whole 5k (and thanks to laser hair removal, Houston humidity and my pride, I’m doing it in shorts). And as much as I didn’t think I would ever believe this: I’m proud of myself for sticking with it. I’m proud that I can and not sound like a dying horse. I’m proud that I can do more than one push up. I’m proud that I’m not embarrassed to be seen running in the Houston heat (anymore).

And all of that pride and the confidence that comes from accomplishing these goals (however small they may seem in comparison to others) has done more for my mental health than I ever thought possible. I feel lighter, emotionally and mentally than I have since I was a very little kid.

So it turned out I was battling weight issues this whole time—they were just a different kind.