OneStepStories-DebraLAfter my husband’s death, I learned I needed to take life one step at a time.  

I’ve always enjoyed working out and trying to take care of myself but after I got married and had our children, workouts were a thing of the past because of all of our schedules. I would try but had trouble sticking with it for long periods of time. I think we all know the story. I would change my eating habits and start working out, then about six months later, stop then start to gain weight and feeling worthless, start again then after while stop again and so on. After my children were old enough, I tried to get back into working out but after so long without doing it my heart just wasn’t in it. My husband would be the one that got up in the morning and walk 6-8 miles no matter the weather and then go and workout. I would walk with him sometimes but during the cold or rainy season I would make excuse after excuse not to do it.

About 3 years ago my husband was diagnosed with cancer and I could not believe it. He had walked everyday and worked out, how could this happen to him? After battling for about a year he passed away. Depression set in and in my mind I knew what I should be doing but in my heart I was struggling. I started going back to the YMCA for a little while and tried to watch what I ate but after while I didn’t care. I could not find my peace at the Y so I quit. I started gaining more weight and with that my depression got worse. I knew I had to do something. I had to get my heart and mind on the same page. At my next appointment, my doctor told me that my blood pressure was high and he wanted to put me on blood pressure medication. I refused, I knew what I had to do.

Through the encouragement of the health coaches at Whirlpool, I started going to a gym called CrossFit. This workout was different than any other I have done and after while I started enjoying it. I immediately noticed a difference in my moods, I was smiling more, the tears from my loss slowed down, and I even noticed that when I walked my back was straight and I held my head high. I also noticed that I was getting on the scales everyday checking my weight. I was smiling and feeling GREAT! After about a month of CrossFit and listening to the trainers and supporters I started changing my eating habits. I’m not saying I didn’t cheat or that it was easy but just to look in the mirror and see a smile on my face was my start. The more I stuck with it the better I started feeling, even noticing that the little things didn’t bother me like they used to.

I realized that it was my new habits that kept me from going crazy. It was my new habits that let me feel good about myself again. It was my new habits that helped me sleep at night. It was my new habits that let me start enjoying my job again.  I workout about 3 days a week now. I have found that for me to be able to enjoy life, eating better and working out is what I need. I am not saying that any of this is easy, but it is like anything else; one step at a time.

I try and talk to others about taking time for themselves but we have to take that first step and it is not easy. If we want our mental health, if we want to rest better, if we want to feel good about ourselves we need to do more than go to work. It is not just about our spouses, children, jobs etc., it is about us the individual. I love my family but to make them happy I need to be happy.

If I can help one person through encouraging them to make a change and be happier, then I’ve accomplished something. Working out might not be the answer. Maybe it’s just walking or finding some me time or whatever it may be I hope I can let others know that when you’re happy with yourself then everything else starts falling into place. Believe you me I know it’s not easy…just one step at a time.

Debra Latham, Findlay, OH

March 28, 2016