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Keeping Up My Routine During the Pandemic

I was driven by the fact that I was ready to take my life on again and I would do it even when it seemed like all the odds were stacked against me.

At the beginning of 2020 I was finally ready to come out of my slump. This was the year. I was going to stop my “warming back into exercise” routine, and was going to return to a full training routine. I was ready. I was ready to look for an acting agent or manager and to take classes. I was ready to find acting jobs. I was ready to work, earn money, and get a car. I was going to do it all. I felt this overwhelming sense of opportunity.

Well. I don’t need to explain what happened. We were all there.

When the pandemic hit I had been back at the gym a full 2 and half months. I was finding my groove again and learning to balance it with my mental health. I was learning how to see myself in gym mirrors again without self-hatred. I was really starting to find my own.

The last thing to shut down was the gym I was employed at. It was a small, independently owned place. We were all clinging onto hope that we could stay open, but I had a feeling we wouldn’t.

When the shut down happened, I did not waiver for one second in my exercise and nutrition. I transferred as much of my routine to my garage gym (thank god for that) as I could. My motivation was not to “keep the weight off” but more to maintain the strength I had gained. I was driven by the fact that I was ready to take my life on again and I would do it even when it seemed like all the odds were stacked against me. I find control in my training sessions. During this extremely challenging year exercise has fought off deep depression and maintained hope in my soul.

I am always finding a way to exercise, no matter what. In the early months of the pandemic my garage gym became inaccessible, so I packed the equipment in the car and went to the park. It was too noisy for the lady that lived above. This had never been a problem before as she was rarely home, but now that all we could do was be home, the noise became too much despite the fact I was only in there an hour a day. This was aggravating and disheartening, but I never took it as a sign I should stop exercising. And now, when LA needs to stay home to keep everyone safe, I am finding ways to exercise in the living room. Sometimes I grow frustrated, but then I take note of the equipment I do have and I remind myself that this is temporary. This helps take the edge off.

I kept an open mind. It’s easy, after years of being in the gym, to say, “Well I don’t have a gym so I can’t do anything.” But funnily enough, it’s almost as though I’ve prepared for this pandemic since 2017 when I quit going to a fitness center. Finding ways to exercise without it was no new concept to me. What was new was the combination of having no gym and feeling like I was at my peak motivation, ready to work for results again, unlike before when I was just trying to keep some semblance of exercise in my life. So I adopted more CrossFit style workouts and learned that I really didn’t need all that equipment at all to see similar results as I had when I was a gym rat. I have kept my eyes peeled for bodyweight, band, dumbbell, stepper, kettlebell and household item exercises that work muscles in different ways and keep things interesting. I’ve allowed myself to move away from the full body split routine (certain muscle groups on certain days) and I’ve let myself experiment with different rep schemes. Sure, I’d love to have heavier weights and more equipment at my disposal, and there are times I can’t deal with the fact I don’t have an olympic barbell, but overall I am pleased with what I do have access to. Because, let’s be real, there’s a lot to be grateful for.

I re-established my presence on Instagram. Oh Instagram. The necessary evil of existence these days. If I’m honest, I would gladly never pick up my phone again for any reason except to call or text someone. I suppose I’m old fashioned like that. I like to live in the moment. However, Instagram has been the doorway to helping people like me. The joy I have found in connecting with and helping those who struggle with PCOS has fueled me to stay strong during this pandemic. After a meeting I feel less alone and I am always so thrilled to have connected with someone. When I know I’ve helped one of my followers with a post or a story, for a moment I forget about my personal struggles and rejoice that I gave some hope and support to someone else. Gifting support and guidance to others has been vital to my motivation in taking care of myself during this year. I’m sure without it there would have been days that felt aimless, but I am grateful to say that I have not felt a single aimless day this year because of the effort I put into my work.

I never used the pandemic as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I am not the type of person where eating whatever I want relieves stress. It just stresses me out more. Don’t get me wrong, eating for a reason besides hunger is an impulse I feel frequently, but this is why we do not keep certain foods in the house. I did not say, “It’s a pandemic! Nothing counts!” because I’ve already been in the “nothing counts” place and I do not wish to go back. I have stayed laser-focused on keeping myself as healthy as possible during this strange year. I understand the reasoning of others who need to do this and I have no judgement. Of course I will always gently say, “maybe try adding more veggies,” but I would never turn my nose up at someone’s choices to eat what makes them happy right now or ever. Just, this method of eating is not what makes me happy in the long run.

I have forgiven myself for the days when I have passed on healthy food or exercise. There have been days where I’ve laid in bed until 11, or stared at my phone for more time than I’d care to admit. There have been moments where I’ve eaten outside of what I usually eat. There have been times when I’ve skipped workouts because there’s so much social justice work to be done or work on my business. I used to panic about these slip ups. But there’s no point in having such impatience with myself. It’s become important for me to recognize that sometimes not doing what I had planned is what I needed to do in that moment for me, and if that means eating something out of my norm or not training, then so be it. “There is always tomorrow,” has become the prime phrase I’ve used when I get frustrated that I didn’t complete the task I had planned for that day, be it working out, an errand, or business related. As long as I promise to do it and keep putting it on my to do list until it gets done. Sometimes if I haven’t gotten my training in yet, I would even make myself train at night when I usually like to relax and I always feel better afterward.

I have found methods to deal with depression and anxiety when exercise doesn’t work. I definitely can’t brag that I’ve remained the epitome of sunshine and daisies this whole time, but I’ve managed to find ways to curb those negative thoughts one can get carried away with. Telling my partner that I am depressed or anxious about something has helped dissipate it a bit. Of course, it rears its ugly head later, but not as strongly. Writing my thoughts in a brain dump journal session, opening the doors to the outside to let the fresh air and sun pour in, listening to my favorite music, singing, taking a moment to watch my adorable cats, calling family or talking to my neighbors. Connection has always helped draw me away from the spiral my brain can take me into.

Times are tough for all of us. I like the saying, “We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.” This pandemic is a lot harder for some than it is for others. We all must take stock of what we do have that is beautiful and good so that we maintain our perspectives of what our lives could be if we didn’t have what we do. All of our struggles are relative to our circumstances. What might seem catastrophic to one at the moment may be nothing to someone else, but it doesn’t make the struggle less valid. Now is the time to support as best we can. Support ourselves, support others, and support the world by staying as forward-thinking as possible. Not always positive as I know this is difficult and positivity itself is a vague notion, but always forward-thinking. This is exactly what has kept me going.


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