When I Quit

In a fit of overwhelmed desperation, I quit trying this week. Monday and Tuesday were unintentional, ending in me falling exhausted into bed with no workout done and lots of sugar/caffeine consumed. By midday Wednesday, when it was reasonably clear that the day was going to end the same way, I made the conscious choice not to try. I let go of any plans to workout. I stopped policing my food. I stepped back. I went to bed early. I did a lot of reading. I ate a ton of sugar and drank too much coffee.

I just needed a break. Was it the right thing to do? Yes. And also no.

I did it because I felt like I was drowning in things to do. Laundry, dishes, clean the house. Walk the dog, pack the lunch, make dinner. Pack the bags, keep the kid clean and fed, remember to pay the bills. Get school uniforms, get gas. Show up at work, do the things and do them well.

Work got more and more busy. Money stress was mounting. I was feeling exhausted and emotional and wasn’t sleeping at all. So maybe the choice to quit was legitimate…except…

Except I felt awful. Even though I was sleeping more, I was MORE tired instead of less. My stomach hurt, like a lot. My stress levels didn’t decrease even a little bit. In fact, between the caffeine and the knowledge that I wasn’t treating myself well, things got worse in the stress department. Getting everything else done got HARDER even though I technically had a little bit more time in the day. I was grumpier, sadder, less pleasant to hang out with. The kid told me I was hurting her feelings because I was holed up reading my book instead of hanging out with her while she brushed her teeth, all because I just…couldn’t.

So my week of relaxing, of letting it go, of giving myself a break? Never happened. Instead I got a week of stomach cramps, exhaustion, stress, sadness, lack of energy or motivation, and guilt over the ways I wasn’t treating myself well. This morning I realized I was DONE with the guilt of it. It was a good experiment. It was worth a try to see how it felt, and it taught me a lot about myself. I always let ME slide when things get crazy, and this week proved to me how terrible an idea that is – I felt worse instead of better…more tired, more stressed, less able to capably handle my days.

So if I really learned my lesson, what am I going to do differently this coming week? Everything. I’m going all in, and I need you guys to hold me accountable to that promise. I’m tired of being tired, and I truly believe it’s in my power to change that on all but the most extreme sleep deprivation days. I can drink less coffee, sleep more, and still have time to treat myself right.

So this week I’m going to do the things: I WILL do two strength workouts (and aim for three). I WILL do at least two yoga sessions. I will also not consume added sugar unless someone buys it for me…which, to clarify, almost never happens, and allows me a loophole for something like a date night dessert. It also means that when I get to work Friday morning, triumphant in my week of happier habits, I can have a single donut and enjoy it if I feel like it, instead of eating three because I’m “hungry” and want sweet stuff.

And for the record – I learned something else too. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to stop, to let things fall by the wayside. Missed workouts? So what. Questionable meals? Fine too. It’s when they take over, when they become the norm, when they begin to take a toll on my wellbeing…THAT is when it becomes an issue.

In other news, perhaps related to all the pushes coming from the universe lately, I’m feeling a weird itch to do…something. I’ve considered roller derby, taking some kind of dance class, and several other out of the box things, all around movement. The truth is I’d love to do any or all of them, but it’s hard enough to manage my work schedule and getting the kid where she needs to go without adding something else to the mix…

How do you find purpose? (source)

Do something, anything. Do anything that is the opposite of what you are doing right now.

Get uneasy, get scared, become a beginner again. If you think you know it all, find something you know nothing about, and learn it well.

Observe how you respond and react. You will learn something new about yourself; not only about your character, but what turns on your light. Once you’ve found something that turns on your light, you’ve found purpose.

When you place yourself in foreign situations, you arrive in your most concentrated form. You will always bump into yourself in the unfamiliar.

The most difficult part of this process is the aloneness. You can’t rely on anyone else to guide you in the right direction. This is a solo mission. Doing it alone, is the whole point of the journey.

Listen to yourself regardless of what others may say. All that matters is your encouragement, not others’ discouragement.

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8 thoughts on “When I Quit

  1. I don’t know if this is the type of advice you are looking for, but I’ll still share it because it seems pretty harmless in implementation, but for me, it’s been amazingly powerful in practice. For the past few days, I’ve been truly drinking as much water as I am supposed to. For me, that’s 207 ounces a day. I do feel like I’m swimming a bit at times, but I’ve found that on days when I get my water intake as high as it is supposed to be, I sleep like a baby. (My Fitbit data backs this up, too.) Maybe you already drink that much, but I was impressed at what a difference it has made in my sleep!

  2. Totally been there! And you’re right. Sometimes you just need a break. I used to follow a blogger who I really admired. Her way of eating really influenced me and I adapted it as my own. And then I started noticing that she never left any margin for error, although she would often ‘slip up’ and go off plan and talk about how she’s only human. She’d moan about a 1 pound gain and then use words like “textbook perfect” when talking about her plan to correct this situation. But then she would get very critical of others, or even herself, for ‘failing.’ What? Consuming, and enjoying, something ‘off plan’ is not failing. it’s called living your friggin’ life. Yes, we all want health and happiness. But why must one negate the other? Have that coffee or pizza or cupcake or whatever once in a while and don’t feel guilty about it. You enjoy the moment; you deserve it. If it makes your stomach feel yucky later, or if it keeps you up at night, you’ll probably be a little more cautious the next time around. But if you enjoyed it, THAT’S the point.

    So, that blogger? Became less and less influential on me. I gained some great ‘technical’ knowledge about how to eat from her blog, but the guilt trip that came with it didn’t fit with my lifestyle, so I bailed on her. Ask yourself what YOU really want, and then act accordingly. It’s not going to be perfect 100% of the time. It’s not supposed to be. But ask for help if you need it, to clean the house, get your child where she needs to be, etc. All of that is often left to me as well, so I totally get it. But YOU have to come first.

    • Donna, thank you so much for this. I am NOT great about asking for help, or frankly even realizing I need it, so much of the time.

      • I’m the same way! I always think, “Well, I could do it before, so I can do it now,” but forget that I have a lot more responsibilities now than I did before. I hope you are able to get that help!

  3. I understand that “i’m so busy I’m drowning, but I want to do something different” feeling. FOR ME, these things were often (I realized) escapes from my day-to-day life. Little adventures. Sometimes because I found the everyday just too mundane or too hard! They were like recess during school!

    But in reality they didn’t work. They became another pull on me not an escape at all.

    So maybe think about a “vacation” type thing: a weekend activity that’s different and could act like a refresher/rejuvinator.

    In the meantime, yes- less coffee and processed sugar. More fruit! More sleep! More yoga!

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