I used to love fitness infomercials. Those marketing geniuses. They know what we want. The fitness infomercial industry rakes in hundreds of billions of dollars every year (I totally just looked that up.) Statistically, that means I’m not the only fitness infomercial watcher. Or was. As good as those commercials were, I rarely bought anything. I just loved the success stories. It made me believe I could achieve that dream. I wonder why we humans are so fascinated with perfect bodies. I no longer feel so driven to have that, mainly because I understand the level of discipline and sadness that would mean for me. I have come to accept that I am an expert at not gaining, or losing body weight. I am officially a grown up, in that I eat lots of veggies and truly love to exercise.
Confession… I am mentally overweight. Ok, to be realistic, obese. I don’t even know how much mental junk food I consume on a daily basis. Honestly, I barely even know what is considered healthy thinking. Alas, awareness is the first step toward making a change. Just like those fitness infomercials, I have found other inspiring stories of people who are getting mentally healthy, and making big changes through writing. I am more surprised than anyone at how much better I feel after starting this blog. Can you imagine jumping on the scale after just one workout to find you have dropped a couple pounds? This is truly how it feels when I finish a blog post, or carved out 10 minutes to write in a notebook. I even have developed a cute little list of C-words to describe the specific ways I have seen some of the weight come off so far.
Stephen King said, “To write is human.” I have never thought of myself as a writer. Trying to organize my thoughts in a way that makes sense to others is about as frustrating as untangling one of those delicate little necklace chains. Ug, throw it away already. My maiden name actually means “tangled ball of yarn.” Still, I have been keeping a journal off and on throughout my life. Usually as a way to hold on to ideas and concepts I learn through reading. Writing makes your thinking visible and permanent. It reveals what you think is important, and how you view the world. Its a place to put things. The thousands of thoughts that float around in your head can be safely stored on a piece of paper, or in the “cloud.” Instant weight loss. (Kinda sounds like an infomercial :))
I don’t play any instruments. I don’t draw, paint, design, craft, cook, or create anything really well. My son plays about 15 instruments, my daughter sings and draws. What happened? I used to sing, draw, play instruments, cook, etc. Before I had kids. I like to think I “gave” them all my creativity during pregnancy. I am such a good mom. (In my darkest moments I believe they stole them, but that’s not productive.) Then I happened to pick up the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She explains that creative living is “..living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” Writing allows me to be curious and to feel creative. I don’t even worry if the writing is good. I just write. How do I know if it’s good? It feels good, that’s enough. Feeling creative feels similar to the endorphin release that comes after a good workout. I could add another C word here: Confidence. You know what I mean, right? It’s totally acceptable at the gym to be all high-fiving everyone after a hard workout. When I finish a blog post, which can be a bit of a workout, I totally do a mental fist-bump.
When I started this blog, it was just supposed to be a digital journal. I set a goal to write 500 words a day. It made total sense that this would help me get mentally healthy. Its the same as training for a race. Just run, a lot. To get mentally healthy, just write. A lot. All was well until my husband wanted to know what I was up to. He asked to read my stuff. Panic. It felt just like having someone sit on the couch and watch you while you work out. Yuck. I don’t know, its just weird. Why would I write so someone else could read it? Especially not someone who knows me. What if they don’t like it? I would have to give it all up. Downward spiral, mental obesity inevitable. Yes, I was highly dramatic. I paced the kitchen floor, and made several explanatory comments while he read a post. When he finished, I think I actually said, “I don’t want to know what you think.” I am awful sometimes. This is what is known as FEAR. Thankfully, my husband loves me anyway. He is also honest (most of the time.) I knew he would tell me the truth. When I finally let him, the feedback he gave was like being told yes, when all you seem to hear is no. I am my worst critic, as we all are. Sometimes, we need others to tell us yes, when we know it’s our fear telling us no. The love of my life liked my work. Now, I don’t really worry if anyone else likes it. It’s like eating brownies and not gaining a pound. Yes, it is.
Clarity, creativity, and courage are just a
few mental weight loss benefits I have claimed since deciding to get healthy. Overcoming the fear of sharing my writing has led to even more unexpected results. I decided to put a blog post in my Facebook community to see what would happen. People are awesome. So many friends took time to read and leave a comment, gosh that feels good. I might be a bit disillusioned, but it makes me want to keep going. I am so grateful to be on this mental weight loss journey. If I keep this up, I might be just like those tan, fit, smiling people on those infomercials with the mind of my dreams!
Want to lose some mental weight? Tell me about it in the comments below! Thanks for reading.