Even though I’m a day late I’m inspired by Susan Ito’s challenge https://readingwritingliving.com/2016/12/29/five-minutes-a-day-2/. I heard about this from Academic coach Sarah Weidman, https://sarahrweidman.com.
As I was swimming, my favorite exercise, on Jan.1, I remembered back to when I first discovered how it, along with weight loss, brought me an unexpected, renewed, sense of hope.
At age 20, I was full of self-hatred, barraged by thoughts of suicide, and self-beatings that told me I was fat, stupid and ugly, and that I would never be loved. I ate my way through this darkness, which made things all the worse.
At that time, my dear father, a cardiologist, warned that if I didn’t lose the weight by the time I was 25 I’d die of a heart attack.
I ate all the more, and shortly after that lecture, I stuffed down a half dozen donuts, that I hadn’t tasted or chewed. And in that moment, I heard a voice from very deep within saying, “Your father’s right and your wish will come true. You really will die if you keep up this behavior and thinking.”
This thought bolted through me like lightning and in an instant I was filled with a new determination and strength of the likes I had never known before.
And I had only two options, because, at that time, the amount of therapeutic choices that exist today, were nonexistent! I could either lose weight or undergo psychiatric treatment which involved heavy anti-psychotic meds and possible hospitalization. Not wanting the latter, (after reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) my only other choice was to lose weight!
I joined weight watchers and in six months I lost 45 pounds! Terrified not only of gaining the physical weight back, but also the psychological effects, I knew I had to exercise.
UC Santa Cruz, the college I was attending, had a 20 yard out door swimming pool. While I had never swum competitively (competitive sports, at that time, was for famed male athletes) I had always loved the sport. But to my embarrassment, I couldn’t swim across once without stopping for breath.
With that same amazing sense of determination, I swam every day, and within a month I could swim a mile! But here’s the magic! At that time, the benefits of exercise was not a dinner conversation topic, I had no knowledge of how this would help my entire well-being! Swimming brought back to me my innate sense of hope, and optimism toward myself first and then toward my family, friends and the world!
To this day, this is still my most favorite exercise, perhaps because of the sweet and successful memories it holds. For me, It’s definitely the finest “medication” on the market!