Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night and just could not get back to sleep.
I was tossing and turning for hours. My back and neck were killing me. Laying down hurt.
Not sleeping and suffering from back and neck pain are not new to me, unfortunately. But the reasons for them happening this time were.
If you’ve ever laid awake in bed at night, you’ll know that your mind starts to work against you. Instead of thinking about happy, peaceful things to help you get back to sleep, you start to think about all the things that you regret, and all the things that cause you stress.
Naturally, that’s what happened to me. I worked myself up into a frenzy and was absolutely miserable the next day.
Money issues used to be what kept me at night. It still does occasionally, but for the most part, I’ve come to terms with our financial situation. The worst is behind us (I hope!) and we are moving forward again. That’s all we can do.
What’s been bothering me lately is – me.
Or more specifically, how I feel about myself.
My confidence took a major hit when I found myself unable to find a good job for so long. Nannying and working in child care was fine, but it didn’t really interest or challenge me. I mean, a 12-year-old with a training course and a bus pass could have replaced me at any given time.
Getting back to working a full-time job helped me feel better about my skills and abilities. But it made me feel worse about my body.
There’s no point of me to try to hide it – even though it’s embarrassing to admit. Over the past couple of years, I’ve gained weight. A lot of weight.
Growing up, I was always super skinny. The kids in school used to tease me by calling me anorexic. I could eat whatever I wanted without worrying about my weight.
But now that I’m in my 30s, my metabolism isn’t what it used to be.
My life also isn’t what it used to be, either. A few years ago, I worked 60+ hours a week. I often ate cereal for dinner. The only time I watched tv was when I was at the gym.
Then things started to fall apart. I burnt myself out from working so much and went on stress leave. I quit the gym because I couldn’t afford it without working. I “borrowed” my sister’s Netflix password and wouldn’t leave my basement apartment for days.
Then I landed an amazing job at the college. I made more money than I ever had before and found myself buying breakfast and lunch on campus, and picking up something on the way home for dinner.
And then I met R. They say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but as it turns out, the same can be said for a woman, as well. (Which clearly worked, as we’re married now!)
It was around this time that I first became aware I was gaining weight when one of my colleagues asked me “When’s the baby due?”. I honestly went home and cried that day and vowed to get myself back to the gym.
(Seriously though, please don’t ever ask a woman that question unless you know for a fact that she’s pregnant.)
But then I was laid off.
I promised myself as soon as I was back to work, I’d re-join the gym. And as it turned out, the only place that offered me a job just so happened to be the gym!
I wanted to get a new membership right away, but employees were eligible for a free one after passing their 3-month review, so it didn’t make sense for me to pay for one. I anxiously waited for my trial period to pass, but my manager (who was hired after I was) kept putting it off, and I ended up quitting before that ever happened.
Mentally and financially, I was in a slump yet again.
I tried to get myself to just go outside and walk, but depression got the better of me. Even thought I had more free time than I knew what to do with and was about to be getting married, exercising was not something I could make myself care about.
Not having money also affected our eating habits in a very negative way. As sad as it is, $4 could either buy us a head of iceberg lettuce or a full meal at McDonald’s. So, we did the best we could.
A few months ago, I started working full time again. I hoped that this job would be the answer to most of my problems. I’d be more active and on my feet a lot at work. We could afford healthier foods. I’d have a routine and a purpose again.
The first few weeks, though, I’d come home and basically collapse from exhaustion. Slowly but surely it got easier, but it was clear I was still very out of shape.
This brings us back to where I found myself a week ago. Laying awake in the middle of the night, still uncomfortable in my own body. Still being asked every once and a while when the baby is due.
And then I remembered something Desirae of Half Banked recently posted:
“The best investment you can make is 2017 is in yourself.”
But laying there awake in the middle of the night, I started to think about the whole “invest in yourself” notion in another way. A way that I’ve been putting off for the past 3 years.
“I promised myself as soon as I was back to work, I’d re-join the gym.”
Remember when I wrote that a few paragraphs ago? Well, after all this time, I finally kept that promise!
When I received a small raise in the new year for the same amount that a gym membership costs, I knew it was time. I mean, it had to be a sign, right?
I’ve only been back for a week, but I already know it was the best thing I could have done for myself.
I actually like going to the gym. (Especially now that I get to see some of my old co-workers, and some of the kids I used to work with, too.) And I’m getting a lot of reading done too, instead of watching tv while on the cardio machines.
This is something I’ve both wanted to do for myself, but also need to do for myself.
YOUR TURN: How are you investing in yourself this year?
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