I gave up, I quit. I was too depressed, too tired. It was too hard. The passion and the drive are gone. I resigned myself to this state of “good enough.” Other people succeed, people in different (easier) circumstances than me but I can settle for this. Just read through my blogs and you can see it – I gave up on trying to lose weight, gave up on meal planning and prep, gave up on a workout routine. I have no fight left in me. Or so I thought.

I haven’t given up. I have fought back against my depression, regained my drive. This is not good enough. I set a goal for myself, set it more than six years ago, and I am not there yet. No matter how long it takes, no matter how many times I stumble I will pick myself back up. No matter how life changes, no matter how my circumstances change, I will not quit. Not really. The fire in me never truly dies. It may dwindle to a single glowing ember but it is an ember just waiting – waiting for me to stoke the fire again. I NEVER truly quit.

Regardless of whether I ever considered myself a tough person or a resilient person or a fighter, that is exactly what I am. I will not look at pictures of myself and wonder, “how did I let it slip away?” I will not look at myself in the mirror and chastise myself for getting so close then giving up. This is not a linear journey because life is not linear. For every time I think I quit, there is another time I realize I haven’t quit at all. I just regathered my strength, refocused my intent, navigated some obstacle set before me.

I have realigned. I reloaded the playlist to my most dedicated and successful days in the gym back on my phone. I have cleaned out my gym clothes drawer because when I started this journey I had one sports bra and one pair of sweat pants and one tank top and that was all I needed to succeed. I have revisited the old pre-MyFitnessPal Microsoft Excel spreadsheet I kept to plan and log meals and track my progress, pulling meal ideas and inspiration. I am checking out a gym closer to the office – even if that means paying for two separate gym memberships. I have not quit.  Are you getting this? I HAVE NOT QUIT.

Take That and Rewind It Back

It started as a half-buried memory. I couldn’t remember the song title or artist, couldn’t remember a single lyric. I only remembered liking the song, remembered a sort of Bollywood tinge to it, remembered hearing it when the Go-Go Dancers writhed on the sky-high platform around the glowing light tower in the center of the nightclub and, mostly, I remembered pushing myself until the sweat dripped from the tip of my nose and speckled the treadmill belt speeding beneath me while the song reverberated from my headphones all the way to my feet five nights a week. Those were the days I was most dedicated, those were the days I never made excuses, those were the days the weight fell off me like shackles. It started driving me nuts… what was that song? A quick text to an old friend and I was soon listening to at my desk. It was “Tambourine” by Eve and its tick-tock-tick rhythm was a time machine. Eve led to Rhianna then to Usher and Flo Rida and I was transported back to those late nights at the gym and to the time when my focus was singular and unshakable.


In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that this was never the type of music I had liked in the past. But my time in New Orleans was peppered with new things – I tried on trends, new versions of “me” like they were cheap Mardi Gras masks in a Decatur Street gift shop. Soon, my 80’s synth-pop and hair band playlists went into cold storage and Thompson Twins was replaced by Trey Songz; Nikki Six was replaced by Nicki Minaj. It was fun – the songs were up tempo and inspired some truly ass-kicking workouts. I’d go to the club Saturday night with friends and download new songs on Sunday for my Monday workout.

Regardless of how I got into this music, it is inextricably linked to what I consider the halcyon days of my transformation. Listening to it this week stirred something in me, something more than a memory. Something like a desire. I wasn’t just remember things I did – I was recalling with vivid detail how I felt, a mood not just a story. I have been missing those days as I so often do, thinking about them and wondering if reloading those old songs into my phone might be the spark I need to relight that fire. My depression seems to be receding and a quiet little urge to feel that belt moving beneath me again, to feel the thin foam of weight machine handles in my palms has risen. The dedication I had in those days have eluded me for years. My life was very different then – nobody was waiting for me at home, the trip to the gym required only a 7-floor elevator ride, I was seeing the kind of drastic results that make the lifestyle something akin to perpetual motion with each workout and each pound lost pushing me full-force into the next. While I don’t miss the job that put me in the same building as the gym and I certainly don’t miss having nobody waiting for me at home, I do miss that level of unflappable commitment. I guess after all the back-and-forth, all the on again/off again, all the quits and restarts and quits there is still a little fight left in me. However small, an ember of that fire still glows in me, waiting for me to feed it and reignite the blaze.

Garbage Can

I am not a garbage can. And, yet, I have been filling myself with garbage for months – both literally and figuratively. I am left to wonder, now, if this influx of trash isn’t at least partially responsible for the downturn my mood has taken; for the depression that has left me often apathetic about my health and wellbeing and the world as a whole. I have often heard it said “garbage in, garbage out,” usually in reference to nutritional intake and I believe that to be true in every aspect. Furthermore, I have been consuming more and more garbage as time has gone on.

At the gradual onset of my dejection months ago, I failed to make the connection between what I was consuming in a figurative manner and my mood. At that point, I was eating healthfully and exercising and blaming my emotional state on a lack of progress in my weight loss journey. Now; however, having had time to reflect, I realize my emotions shifted sooner and in response to something totally different: the way I was feeding my environment.

Every day we go into the world and are exposed to a barrage of information: news media, social media, water-cooler conversations in the workplace, etc. and every day we choose what we let in, which conversations we will participate in and how. Being positive, spreading a positive message is important to me – being kind, empathetic and compassionate is who I choose to be, how I choose to participate in the world. Without going off the political deep-end, I will say that maintaining a positive attitude has grown more difficult as the Presidential election has progressed. As a person who describes her political views (and spiritual ones, for that matter) simply as, “be kind and take care of each other,” it has felt like there is no place for me and my type in the world anymore. Sheltering myself from messages of fear, anger and hatred became nearly impossible. Furthermore, I began to react to those messages with my own anger, my own negativity – I was actively engaged in consuming this garbage. Realizing this to some extent, I deactivated my Facebook account in May. While that helped, it did not stop me from continuing to consume this garbage through other sources.

In hindsight, it seems obvious ­­– almost embarrassing how obvious it is – that the sadness I am feeling about the political, social and moral atmosphere of the world would, in turn, began to affect my weight loss efforts. That’s the thing about depression… it is all-encompassing. There is no aspect of your life that isn’t, at some point, going to be touched by it. As heavyheartedness consumed my emotional state, I have struggled to care about anything. Eventually, I stopped caring about weight loss, about healthy eating, about exercise. Now I wasn’t just consuming garbage in my heart and mind; I was consuming it in my body, veering away from our healthy eating habits, calorie counting and meal planning and, instead, indulging in processed foods and frequent sugary espresso drinks. And my weight has begun to creep back up.

Yesterday, after weeks of furiously dropping my two cents on news story comments sections, plunking down each night for a daily dose of The Daily Show and tweeting a hailstorm of remarks pertaining to last week’s debate, I realized that I am not just consuming garbage – I am bingeing on it. My faith in humanity is nearly gone, the only hope I have for the future involves a plan to disappear into the mountains and live off-the-grid. This garbage can is overflowing. It is time I realize that I am not a garbage can.

I will not fill myself with garbage anymore. From this point on, I am focusing not on weight loss or numbers on a scale, numbers on a nutritional label. I am focusing not on negativity in my environment, on hateful or demeaning political candidates and their voters. I am focusing on only the good stuff. We are switching from calorie-specific meal plans to a simpler, more organic and natural way of eating. We will eat balanced and nutritious meals comprised of healthful, whole and organic foods – not processed, packaged convenience foods. We will eat healthy portions, eating until we aren’t hungry rather than eating until we are full. I am changing the way I communicate on Twitter, unfollowing users posting political messages on Instagram and switching from traditional news sites to those focused on reporting good, uplifting and inspiring news stories. We will exercise to feel good, to feel strong and energized but will not mentally flog ourselves when we have an off-day or take a day to rest. There will probably come a day in the future when I return to my calorie-restrictive meal planning and my hardcore workout plans but, for now, I have to focus on getting well in my head, my heart and my body. I have to take the pressure off myself, alleviate the demands of a confining dietary regimen, be gentler with myself regarding my performance and expectations. No more negative garbage coming from my foods, my environment or my own mind. I am not a garbage can.