• Heather Hartsog-Moore

Derailed in 2020? You're not alone!

How many of us are waking up in the mornings, opening up social media and saying to ourselves Computer…damage report?

First the tornados. Then COVID-19. Whether it’s been dealing with destruction, joblessness, learning to be an employee, parent and teacher all at the same time or knowing you had to be out doing your job and potentially risking your health, I don’t think any of us can say our lives aren’t filled with stress.

I started 2020 with a newfound resolve to put more balance in my life. In 2019, I had over-rotated to work which resulted in going back to bad habits with eating that I thought I’d gotten past. I was starting to find my groove and the balance I had lost. Then, life as I knew it changed.

Of all the things I thought I’d have to deal with in my lifetime, a pandemic wasn’t even on my radar. For me, it’s been a huge learning experience to find out some things I thought were behind me really weren’t and how all of this has derailed me both mentally and physically.

I’ve had issues with anxiety all my life. Most people find this shocking because I give off the appearance of an extremely positive attitude. Sometimes that is a front to cover what I’m really feeling inside. This resulted in coping mechanisms such as eating disorders, perfectionism, workaholism and while not full-blown alcoholism, definitely a problem with alcohol. When I started my fitness journey in 2016, I started unpacking some of these and better understanding my triggers. I got to a good place. But all of this came back with a vengeance this year.

At first, I felt a sense of relief. There wasn’t always the need to “be” somewhere. In the comfort of my own home, I could live, work, workout. And delivery services made it easy to make sure we had everything we needed. I thought I was living my best life. But it was the calm before the storm.

Every day, life felt more uncertain. And that uncertainty led to resurfacing of my anxiety. And that anxiety manifested into my definite go-tos – workaholism and eating disorders. I couldn’t seem to sit still. If I wasn’t doing my day job, I was finding some project to work on at the house. Any downtime, I was looking around for something that needed to be fixed or organized. Every room has been deep cleaned and purged of anything unnecessary. Then there is food. Food is a coping mechanism when I feel like I don’t have control. I will purposefully binge because it’s something I deserve or earned or with this year, feel like nothing really matters and I’d go for the comfort of food. Then I’d feel guilty and beat myself up and decide to reset by fasting or just doing protein shakes only to then binge again later.

I can tell you one of the huge areas where I went wrong. As life became more uncertain for me, I stopped tracking and checking in with my coach. And it was much easier to do because I wasn’t in the gym seeing him. If you’re not writing down what you do or don’t eat, it’s way easier not to hold yourself accountable. Same with your workouts. It’s a lot easier to let a crazy work schedule get in the way or stay in bed a bit longer than get up and workout if you’re not checking in or being seen. And if you’re not doing those weekly photos, you can be shocked when your clothes stop fitting.

Even if you don’t have a coach, tracking and taking photos is a way to hold yourself accountable. It’s scientifically proven people who track their food are more likely to make better choices because you actually see how many calories you are consuming. Also, tracking can give you some sense of stability. And the photo sometimes shows more than the scales ever will. Out of everything you have going on in your life, there is one area you can control, and the routine can be helpful while we’re all out of our routines.

So next steps for me? I’m gonna start tracking and checking in. And I will be using my weekly check-ins as a way to check-in with myself and where I’m at with my anxiety. As well as my food, I also need to carve out that downtime to get my workaholism in check. When I feel the need to do something, some breathing or meditation might be a good option instead of yet another project.

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