There is no motivator like intense hopelessness, if you're naturally a hopeful person.
Back in 2008, hubby and I decided to join a gym. We went with one that was close by, had childcare, and gave us many options to get in shape. Much as I would like to say we started our exercise regimen and stuck with it faithfully, the reality was we were often too tired to make it for a workout.
Yet, funny how things turn out because I was having one of the worst teaching years ever in my almost fifteen year career. There are some groups of students you just don't click with, and this was one of two in my teaching career I dreaded working with daily. Don't get me wrong, there were some amazing kids in this student group, but there were also some that delighted in causing as much mischief as they possibly could.
I was miserable, felt out of control and at the end of my rope. So I began getting serious about something I could control--making time for the gym. I'd heard at some point that exercise was an excellent stress reliever, and though I thought it was a long shot, I decided to give exercise a try. At least two or three times a week, I would jump on the elliptical and do my best to push my stress out with the sweat.
As I got into a habit, I noticed I missed the activity if I didn't make it to the gym, and eventually, I was going four to five times a week. My school year wasn't getting better unfortunately, but my anxiety level dropped. The most beneficial part of adding an exercise routine started about six weeks into this major change in my life and continued for the next six months--I lost about twenty-five pounds.
It was awesome. Everyone noticed--co-workers, family (especially hubby), and I noticed.
My stomach was getting flatter, my hips were getting narrower, and even my breasts were fitting in my bras and button-down shirts better. I was excited to keep working toward my ideal weight.
Then, in September 2009, I was showering, and the thought popped into my head that I hadn't completed a self-exam on my breasts for years. Yes, years. It's easy just to go through your routine and think things will always be the way they've always been. Why I thought to do a self-exam at that moment, I don't know. I like to think it was an intervention from God. I wasn't exaggerating when I said, I hadn't purposely examined my breasts for years, and though I'd been to my regular appointments, I hadn't since I'd begun to lose weight.
It was completely unexpected (I mean who really expects it?), but sure enough, I found a lump in my left breast. Maybe it was because I'd lost so much weight that it was so noticeable to me now, but there it was--undeniably a golf ball size lump.
Two things about that time continue to make me wonder. My weight-loss, though originally motivated by a tough day job, was probably the key to my being able to feel the lump, and the fact something greater than myself inspired me to find the lump.
Hard times might just be your wake-up call. And, of course, listen to that little whispering voice. It might just save your life.
More to come,