Monday, April 11, 2011

Wellbeing - The art of Being Well

I just finished a 10-day course of antibiotics.  A little over a week and a half ago, in the midst of a very stressful week, I felt a swollen spot just under my jaw line that was tender to the touch, and I felt generally run down.  I searched to try to discern whether it merited a trip to the doctor, and I finally called and went in to see him.  On my way out, I realized that I have been to the doctor more frequently in the two and a half years we have been here than I ever have anywhere else in my life.  At first I was getting upper-respiratory infections every six months or so - a combination of the many central Kentucky allergens and shaking too many hands after worship, but in the past year, it has gone to every 4 months, and my course of antibiotics that I just finished last week was my third in 3 1/2 months.  I have also increased the frequency of visits to my chiropractor, who informed me that I have the kind of body that manifests stress in physical ways.  Beyond the tight muscles and misalignments, my stress is literally making me sick!

Back in Seminary I started to do something I hadn't ever really done: I began to work out regularly.  By my final year of Seminary, I was working out almost every day, using a combination of boot camp fitness classes, weight and cardio training, and yoga to stay in shape.  I found that when life got particularly stressful, working out was absolutely necessary - I craved it, as much as I craved water after boot camp.  Then Andy and I met and were traveling back and forth, busy with wedding planning, finishing up our coursework, and getting ready to make major transitions, and going to the gym fell by the wayside.  I remember canceling my membership in March with great sadness, realizing that with my travel schedule alone, the most I would be able to go to the gym would be about 1 day a week.  Andy had also been in a regular exercise routine, so both of us wanted to prioritize getting back into a schedule of working out once we got settled.

Once we got settled.  After graduation, we moved out of our two apartments and lived in Montreat, NC for the summer.  Then we were loosely based in Virginia for a few months while we traveled, interviewed, and negotiated our terms of call to come to Kentucky.  Once here, it took us a while to get settled in, but we finally found a gym to join in April two years ago.  Then we bought a house, and had the move... and let's face it, it can be really hard to find time to work out when your mornings are in the office, your afternoons and evenings are variable but often in meetings, and so on...

Finally, about two months ago, I began to do what I never thought I could do - wake up early to get moving.  At first, I was just walking.  For half an hour.  That's it.  Now I am trying to make it to the gym to do training and cardio work each morning.  It is really hard to get to bed at a decent hour to get enough sleep to make that sustainable, but I am trying.  This morning, however, I woke up to the 6am alarm only to fall back asleep again, waking up just before 7 - too late to make it to the gym.  I agonized over whether to get up and go for a walk (but it was still dark), to do some body-weight exercises in the living room, or whether to stay in bed and get the sleep I so desperately needed.  Finally, I got up and went into the living room to do some stretching and work on the foam roller (soft tissue), and to read the morning lectionary.  I have still been feeling badly about missing the workout this morning, trying to figure out when I can get one in today (hopefully after a committee meeting tonight, if it doesn't go too long).

I don't eat as well as I should.  I don't exercise as much as I should.  I know there are things I should be doing to take better care of myself so that I stay healthy, grounded, and in balance.  This morning I came across the new site,, and read an entry by Bethany Stolle.  In looking back on a journal entry from three years ago she writes, "Three years later, I still get mad at my scale. And I’ll go through phases where my eating habits look like a picky toddler’s. But I’m committed. To exercise at least three times per week. To try to eat healthier. And to forgive myself and keep moving forward."

I am thankful for the reminder that part of the art of being well involves the willingness and ability to forgive ourselves for failing to live up to the expectations that we set, in order that we might keep moving forward.  I may or may not get to the gym today.  But that is ok.  I'll keep moving forward tomorrow.  

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