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  • Jamie Faulkner

Beginning Again

“Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond? Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?” - George Washington (Hamilton (The Musical))

This week, I want to talk about something that’s really hard for me to talk about. I think it's hard for anyone who’s experienced it to talk about.

But I think it’s important to talk about because almost everyone has or will experience this at some time or another on their health journey.

I’m talking about setbacks. Regression. Backsliding. Falling off the wagon. Relapse.

6 years ago, I lost 50lbs. I’ve kept most of my weight off, but over the past year or so, I’ve gained almost 20lbs. The “Covid-20” if you will.

A little back story - after I lost my weight, I learned to love exercise. Mostly cardio exercise. That mostly involved my feet. At one point, I was averaging 25,000 steps a day. I was teaching cardio-kickboxing three times a week, running on my off days, hiking on the weekend, and working at a day-care and after-school program running around after children all week!

I started getting a pain in my left foot, and it got progressively worse. One day, my friend and I were hiking, and we were maybe 80% up the mountain when I had to stop to sit down, take my boot off, and massage my foot.

After that, I went to see a podiatrist and was diagnosed with Morton’s Neuroma - a small (yet ANNOYING) growth on the nerve in between my third and fourth toe bones. I got cortisol shots and pads to wear in my shoes. She told me to take a break from running and hiking, but allowed me to keep teaching. I went to a chiropractor. I bought $400 orthotic inserts. I went down to teaching twice a week. I saw a physical therapist. Nothing helped.

Finally, in the fall of 2019, I had foot surgery to remove the neuroma.

By this time, I had already started losing some of the lean muscle I had worked so hard to get, but I was still eating healthy and doing yoga or light exercise most days of the week.

In late 2019 and early 2020, I started walking and hiking again, here and there. It felt so good to be able to get back to nature. I went on a one mile run. It was EXHILARATING!

I went on two or three more runs before the pain came back. In the same spot.

Then, Covid happened. And, to continue with the Hamilton references: “the world turned upside down.”

My classes got cancelled. I was working from home. The gym was closed. And I - along with millions of other people around the world - was STRESSED OUT!

I tried to keep up with my exercises. I went for lots of walks (in March, in New England). I did yoga. I made up some “foot-free” HIIT workouts.

This is when things started to really get hard.

My preferred form of stress relief was exercise, specifically running. But it hurt to run. And nothing else seemed to hit the spot in the same way.

So I went back to my original way of coping with stress: eating.

I’ve been a stress eater since… well, since I can remember, honestly. So, when it seemed like the world was falling apart, and I couldn’t cope the way I wanted to, I went back to basics. Back to comfort. Pasta. Nachos. Potato chips. Pizza. Bread. Ohhh the bread.

Poor eating gave way to fewer walks, skipped yoga, lazier workouts.

Finally, I was able to start teaching again in May. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - if I wasn’t an instructor, I think I would have gained all my weight back by now. Teaching helped me get my exercising back on track, but I was still eating unhealthy foods and even unhealthier portions.

This continued up until, well… right now.

Today, I weighed myself and learned that I am up almost 20 pounds since I hit my goal weight back in 2014. And I know that it’s not muscle.

But, here I am. Acknowledging it. Accepting it. And Moving on.

Setbacks happen.

Injuries happen.

Stress happens.

End-of-the-fricking-world-pandemic-craziness happens (apparently).

And relapses happen.

And that is OKAY.

The important thing is that we are able to acknowledge it, accept it, and begin again. And that is just what I’m going to do.

“You never fail until you stop trying” - Albert Einstein

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