I know you've heard it before, and that's because it's true. Exercise really does reduce stress!
When I was 39, I found out I was pregnant! I already had 4 wonderful sons, who were 17, 16, 14 and 11! It was a shock (especially because the birth control we'd been relying on, obviously failed!) When the baby was born, there would be almost 12 years between him and his next oldest brother. My life was changed instantly.
And not only that, but our 17 year-old was struggling with drug abuse. (That's a whole series of posts that I'll write later.)
Not only did our family need to make huge adjustments, but I had some big decisions to make professionally. I'd been building a business coaching practice with a friend, and I was not sure I'd be able to continue, because another wrinkle I was now facing, PPD (post-partum depression) that always set in after my babies were born.
Our beautiful boy, Winston Van, arrived on March 25, 2011. So now I had 4 teenage boys and a baby to nurture, feed, discipline, organize, nurse, etc...as a mom the list basically never ends.
A year after he was born, I turned 40 and realized the baby weight was not going to come off the way it had when I was in my 20s. I was tired of wearing the same sweat pants (because I refused to buy more at the size I needed!) and I was starting to come out of my PPD, so 2 months after I turned 40, I decided I was ready for a major change. On May 17, 2012 (exactly 7 years from the day I'm writing this) I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and began that very day to track my calories.
In June that year I started going to CrossFit 3 days a week. And in August, I began learning how to run using a technique called, Chi Running. So, along with 3 days of CrossFit, I was running 2 days a week and also began the process to become certified to teach Chi Running.
By December 2012 I had lost 40 pounds! It was an amazing year of growth and change. And I learned some very important lessons, one of which is that when I worked out or went for a run, I just felt emotionally better. I was a better mom, more patient, understanding and less moody.
I have continued my 3 days of CrossFit and now do 1 day of yoga. It's been 7 years! I don't run as much as I did, but honestly, it doesn't matter what type of exercise you do, any type of movement relieves stress and improves your mood.
Exercise saved my sanity through the baby, toddler and young child years of Winston while raising 4 teenagers to become young adult men. It saved my sanity through 7 years of stress with my son's alcohol and drug addiction. I knew I could not miss a day of exercise through those stressful years, or I would not be able to bear the stress.
And with all the benefits that exercise brings both physically and mentally, perhaps the best benefit of all was the friends I made along the way.
This is a picture with 5 of the most wonderful women I've ever met. We have formed strong bonds of friendship by sweating our way through CrossFit and building each other up outside of the gym too. (Halloween workout as CrossFit legends the Dottir women)
Another photo of almost all of us:
I ran a half marathon with one of my friends in 2017:
And a 61.9 mile relay last summer with another group of great friends:
My before and after. March 2012/January 2013
I'm so grateful my 5th son came along so that I could learn how important exercise is for my mental, emotional and physical health.
Get out there and get moving! Your whole life depends on it!