Things & Stuff & WTF

Things & Stuff & WTF

It’s been several months now since my dream of becoming an Ironman came true. I’ve cut off my athlete bracelet, my new tattoo is healed and I’m still trying to figure out what my new normal looks like. I’m also trying to remember everything I learned about myself through this process, knowing I am not the same person I was even a year ago, much less several years ago when I started this whole fitness journey.

When I made the decision to try to become an Ironman, I knew it would be hard. I knew I’d be hungry, exhausted, crabby…but I didn’t necessarily realize how much it would trigger my anxiety and push me outside of my comfort zone. I knew my lack of confidence would continue to be an issue, as I doubted myself every single step of the way, and I had a feeling that would trigger some bouts of depression, but there were days I wondered if I’d get out of this whole thing alive, and I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

I also didn’t realize how motivated I am by impossible goals. Ironman felt impossible. It felt like this thing that only people far stronger than me can do. Not even just stronger in the physical sense, but stronger mentally and emotionally. It never felt like something I could do. But I knew I wanted to try, and every morning when the alarm went off, every workout that felt hard or I felt too tired to do, I was driven by the impossible. If I’m tired now and give up, how the hell do I expect to get through 140.6 miles of fatigue? Every step I took when I felt I couldn’t was driven by the thought of race day.

Now I’ve achieved the impossible, proven I can do more than I ever dreamed possible, so what comes next?

I have no idea, but I have a few ideas, but I really feel like I have no idea. Welcome to my brain, where nothing makes sense and everything is overwhelming! HOORAY!

The last almost three months have shown me how much AND how little I’ve changed. It was so easy to go back to old ways after the race. Eat, sleep, celebrate…I mean, I just did an IRONMAN! I need to recover and enjoy some down time! And while that’s true, especially with the amount of anxiety I had in the days leading up to the race, I quickly went back to “eh, let’s just order dinner or go out, we don’t need to cook!” and “laying on the couch all day with snacks is SOOOO FUN!”

Which it is, but I was quickly falling back into VERY old habits, and my body likes to gain weight (endomorphs unite!), so I quickly found lots of those pounds I had worked so insanely hard to lose. Here I was, celebrating my hard work by ruining it.

And while you can’t be in peak condition year round (it’s called peak for a reason), I (am trying to) refuse to continue the same cycle of gaining and losing the same pounds over and over again. I haven’t even realized my body’s fullest potential in terms of body fat and strength, and here I am, having to re-lose some of those same damn pounds before I can even attempt to find that potential. So yes, I’ve been beating myself up about that. It’s so hard not to when I’m surrounded by so many amazing athletes that, on the surface, don’t seem to have a hard time staying focused. And while that’s not likely reality, I find myself feeling ashamed of who I am and not proud of what I’ve accomplished. I look at the girl who crossed the finish line, and I’m proud of her, but I don’t identify with her. That’s awesome Sarah, and as I sit here today, I am not awesome Sarah. It’s a real bummer, and I don’t know how to fix it.

On top of that, so many other things fell to the wayside while training, and now I am trying to catch up on tons of horribly boring adult things, like cleaning the house, on top of the lingering financial and emotional stress of the holidays, and suddenly it’s like this amazing thing I did is nothing. I’m not even the athlete I was when I crossed that line on October 15. The accomplishment is there forever, but so is the rest of real life, and I find myself drowning in the mundane.

Turns out, the mundane is actually a massive bout of depression. Who knew??

Thanks to some encouragement from a sweet friend, I finally got back to seeing my therapist in December. Why did I stop? Well, aside from training consuming my life, setting up an appointment required making a phone call and my anxiety just wasn’t having it.

It wasn’t until I was telling Ashley about how much I needed to go back but how afraid I was to call (was I inconveniencing the person answering the phone? It had been so long, did my therapist still have room for me in her schedule? Did she even want me back? What if she said NO?????), and she offered to call for me, that I realized how silly this phone fear was and made the call myself.

Now I’ve been in twice, both times with worsening depression, but I know this will eventually help me turn things around. I’m trying so hard to get my nutrition back on point, and to figure out what this season looks like for me athletically, but I’m also fighting the battle of finding my worth, my motivation, and who I really am. It’s a lot. I’m plagued by feelings of not being enough, which feeds my anxiety and depression, which wears me out and makes me want to stay in bed and hide away, which makes nutrition and working out that much harder, which then leads me to go astray with my eating, which literally feeds my depression and anxiety, which makes everything harder than it should be, which is ridiculous because I have a fairly easy life when you look at the big picture, which makes me question why I even fall prey to depression & anxiety, which makes me feel weak, which feeds my insecurities and core belief that nothing I ever do will be enough.

Exhausting, yeah? Yeah.

So basically, I’m flailing aimlessly through life at the moment, trying to constantly convince myself that the sheer energy required simply to exist is worth it, that I’m not just mucking up the lives of everyone I love and that I have some sort of purpose in this life. That I fit somewhere. That I belong here.

So I think my biggest goal for 2018 is to find worth in myself that isn’t contingent upon accomplishment. I need to find a way to believe I’m supposed to be here, anywhere, somewhere for reasons based solely on who I am as a human being. I have to change my core belief that I am not enough. And I really suck at saying positive things about myself, because I never want to come across as arrogant or cocky or self absorbed or narcissistic, so this is going to be a huge challenge. And it might be an annoying journey to watch from the outside, so feel free to ignore what comes next…but I think what comes next is committing to find one thing good about myself every single day and acknowledge it. Publicly. Out loud. In writing. It’s going to be so cringe inducing for me to do it, but in keeping with my fake it till you make it motto, I gotta start somewhere.

So if you see lots of short blog posts regarding good things about me, please don’t think I’m being some kind of self-absorbed dick nugget. I’m just trying to believe in myself.

Day one of believing in myself starts with the most basic statement I do not currently believe but hope to someday…

I am enough.

Gulp…

Um…

Er….

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