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I’ll Cry Anywhere: Why That’s a Good Thing

Over the past few years, I’ve grown more and more comfortable with of my emotions. I attribute this to a variety of factors: grad school, self-work, and straight up life experience. During my 3 years of grad school, studying the field of counseling, I learned about who I was as a person. I learned that I was someone who intellectualized difficult experiences, overthinking them and therefore extinguishing my “negative” emotions (negative is in quotations because truly all emotions are good emotions and we need them all for a meaningful life, but more on that later…). Intellectualization is defined by changingminds.org as, “a ‘flight into reason’, where the person avoids uncomfortable emotions by focusing on facts and logic.

I’m not exactly sure where this began for me, but it was very much apparent when I was in grad school learning how to be a counselor. I’m someone who is innately optimistic, with a child-like imagination, and energetic personality. This was and continues to be a huge part of my identity.  I aim to spread smiles and to bring light into the lives of those that are hurting. Little did I know, I needed to get in touch with the side of me that experienced hurt, loss, and pain in order to do so effectively. After it was pointed out to me by a clinical supervisor that I intellectualized, I started seeking out ways I could get more in touch with my own feelings. I sought out my own individual therapy, began writing about my life, and letting myself be vulnerable (sharing my full range of emotions) with others.

Progressively, I’ve become more and more able to let myself “fully feel.” AKA I don’t talk myself out of emotions. I recognize that there are times where it’s okay to be sad, angry, or upset.  I work to acknowledge what I’m feeling and at first…  just let it be. When I experienced something horrible in the past, I was prone to discounting my experience with thoughts like “it could be worse,” or “It makes sense that this happened, because___.” Now, I aim to allow myself to be present with what I’m going through, to be mindful.

This wave of emotional connectedness has manifested in my life in a variety of ways, one of those being tears. In the past, I was NOT a fan of crying, I avoided it at all costs. Now, all it takes is singing a song I resonate with in my car… I totally didn’t cry yesterday listening to a Taylor Swift song *cough* *cough* I did. Where else have I cried? How about at a crowded brunch restaurant upon hearing my best friend was in a happy new relationship? Yep, that one’s true too. Quick run of some other locations water has run out of my eyes: my bed, concerts, the office, the movie theatre, my neighbor’s house, the University of Central Florida, and the list keeps growing. I’m now proud of my precious tears, and you should be too! 😊

As I said earlier, all emotions are good emotions. They are signals to the self about our human experience. Here are some examples of what our emotions might be communicating: happiness tells us that we are enjoying ourselves or that we are proud, anger tells us something needs to change, and sadness is the embodiment of loss or grief. When emotions come up, it is our chance to tune in, to listen, and to respond with compassion. It just so happens that sometimes a compassionate response to our own emotions is to have a good cry. Really, if you’re not convinced yet, you should try it! This is your personal mission from me. You got this!

 

Want more on this topic? Here are some more good reads about the benefits of crying:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/constructive-wallowing/201406/is-crying-good-you-it-depends

https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/is-crying-good-for-you#1

 

❤ MaryPOPFit

photography of man raising both hands
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Let’s Talk about Suicide Prevention.

ground group growth hands

So for a blog about health and wellness, suicide may seem like a heavy topic, but it’s important that we talk about it. As a community, we can work toward preventing suicide by being aware of warning signs, connecting struggling individuals to help, volunteering our time, and/or donating to organizations with this mission.

Unfortunately, suicide may be more prevalent than you think. According to the Center or Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2016, suicide was determined to be the 10th highest cause of death in the US, with 45,000 individuals aged 10 and above passing away in this manner.

Know the Warning Signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings*

*Signs from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

It’s important to note, at times, there may be no outward signs. That’s where breaking the stigma of mental illness and struggles with mental health comes in. If we have open discussions about struggles with mental health, we can pave the way for creating an accepting environment where our colleagues, family members, friends, or neighbors, may feel comfortable reaching out.

How to Help:

In addition to having open discussions about mental health and suicide, we can offer support and resources to individuals that display these warning signs. One amazing resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Individuals of all ages can call the hotline to speak with a crisis counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during their time of need. Another resource is the Trevor Project a lifeline dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth in crisis, 1-866-488-7386. One additional resource is the Crisis Text line which can be utilized by Texting HOME to 741741.*

*Disclaimer- if you or anyone you know is in immediate danger, refer to emergency services and dial 911.

Further, each organization listed accepts volunteers and donations. If you have the time or financial means to contribute to any of these or similar organizations, I encourage you to do so.

This post is certainly not an extensive source of information on this topic, but I hope you, the reader, gained insight into a way that you can help😊 If you are passionate about this topic, I encourage you to do further research on your own, and to share this knowledge with others. Awareness is one of the first steps towards positive change.

Sending love and light your way,

Mary Lyn ❤

 

Links to mentioned Organizations:

Download Warning Sign Wallet Cards for Free Here:

 

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

Where does motivation come from and how do we find it? If only there were simple answers to these questions. Speaking of which, I had to build up the motivation to begin writing this blog post. Here I lay in bed, on a Sunday night, tempted to watch Netflix instead, but… somehow the irony of needing motivation to write a blog post on motivation got me here (and because I have intrinsic motivation to write of course, but we’ll get to that later).

The truth is, specific sources of motivation vary from person to person and the intensity of our motivation may shift each day. Motivation can fluctuate with the amount of sleep we get at night, whether we ate, how we feel, or even with the amount of traffic we had to get through on the way to work. Though, one question that can be extremely powerful in evaluating your ability to accomplish a goal is this:

Am I more intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to reach this goal?

So what does that mean? Simply put, intrinsic motivation comes from within and extrinsic motivation is rooted outside of ourselves. To be intrinsically motivated, we gain positive emotions when engaging in the behaviors necessary to complete a task. We might feel happiness, relaxation, pride, or strength.  When we are extrinsically motivated, we are driven to complete a task to escape punishment or to be given praise or reward.

Let’s use gaining a college degree in Psychology as an example. One person, lets call her Sandy, may genuinely be interested in the field, reading textbooks on the subject with ease as she is happy to learn the material. The other, Paul, decided to study Psychology because he wanted to make a lot of money and gain prestige. Let’s take another common goal, losing weight, using our same friends Sandy and Paul. Paul, extrinsically motivated, might do so because he thinks he would gain more complements on his appearance or others would be more attracted to him having lost the weight. Sandy, intrinsically motivated, decided to lose weight because eating well and exercising allows her to feel healthy and energized.

Take a second to think about it. What is your most pressing goal at the moment? Why do you want to achieve it? Take a piece of paper, yes a tangible piece of paper, dividing it in half. On one side list the intrinsic aspects motivating you, and on the other the extrinsic aspects. We can have a combination of each pulling us forward at the same time.

close up of text

After you’re done, take a look at the paper. Which list is longer? There isn’t anything inherently bad about extrinsic motivation, we all experience it. However, there is so much power in intrinsic motivation. Here’s the reason why (it comes back to the definition):

Extrinsic motivation relies on forces EXTERNAL to us, whereas, Intrinsic motivation arises WITHIN ourselves.

When we are driven by our own joy, our own excitement, our own love for an activity… we are much more likely to complete it. If your goal is laden with extrinsic motivators, and little to no intrinsic motivators, is it really worth your time and energy?

It’s totally up to you to decide that, but… you may find that these extrinsically laden goals drain you, because you likely don’t really want to put in the work to achieve them. If that’s the case with the goal you wrote down, consider letting it go and creating a new goal, one you truly want to achieve.

Now, I know this information won’t solve all your motivation problems, but hopefully it helps. 😊 Wishing you all the best in creating your healthy and FIT life ❤

Redirecting: My Surgery Story

 

bird s eye view photography of road in the middle of desert
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on Pexels.com

We live in a society that is always pushing forward with little time to stop and reflect. Always racing toward the next promotion, the next degree, the next goal… but what happens when something blocks us from reaching that destination?  What does that mean for us? Does it make us feel less successful, less credible, less motivated? It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that way. So much time and energy put into pursuing an aspiration only to be faced with a big flashing sign that says “road closed” with no way to get through.

Recently, I pursued a certification to teach a high impact fitness class. I was thrilled to be able to spread my love of intense cardio to others in the community. I spent hours practicing, listening to the music, and teaching my friends to get better at instructing this format. Though, after an hour or two of practicing I noticed my feet were becoming very achy and sore. I decided I’d go to the podiatrist to get it checked out. I knew I had bunions (a common bone deformity that causes joint pain) and figured it couldn’t hurt to receive some insight into what could be done for the issue.  Within minutes of being at the office, I had x-rays taken of my feet.

When the doctor came in, he acknowledged what I came in for and shared that my joint pain was attributed to bunions. However, he went on to ask me something I was not expecting. “Are you having any heel pain?” To which I answered, “No, not that I have noticed.” His expression revealed that he was surprised to hear that, and he went on to direct me to my x-ray asking, “do you see that?” Right away I was able to see what appeared to be a large hole in my heel bone. The doctor informed me that the hole was a bone tumor, and that I would need to receive a CT scan for more information to be gathered. The doctor reassured me that the odds of the tumor being cancerous were extremely slim, but that due to the size of the tumor I would be at risk of fracturing my heel with my current level of activity.

I left the office surprised, a bit worried, and perplexed as to what this tumor might mean for me. A week later, I received my CT scan and a week after that I was back at the podiatrist to receive the results. My doctor explicated that the tumor was a fatty lesion, meaning that instead of solid bone that “hole” consisted of weak fatty tissue. The location of the tumor apparently being known to occur in less than 1% of the population. I won the lottery! (The wrong kind, but at least I can proudly say I’m one in a million.) He further confirmed that although I did not have pain in the area, my risk of fracturing the bone with high impact activity would be heightened.

The doctor described the ability to correct both my bunion and the tumor with surgery. Sharing that it would mean 2 full months of downtime, and up to 6 months before I would be back to high impact exercise safely. I took a few weeks to decide. Ultimately, I decided to go all in and get both surgeries out of the way, scheduling the procedure for a few months out. I did not want anything to stop me from reaching my goals, even if it would take half a year before I could go back to teaching group fitness post-surgery.

The week eventually came, just 3 days before surgery, I had my pre-operative appointment with my doctor. Here my doctor seemingly provided new information. He stated that I had the option to complete the bunion surgery alone, and that I could wait on completing the tumor removal. He expressed that if I hadn’t planned for the bunion surgery, he would not have recommended the heel bone surgery as It was much more extensive. He said with modified activity, the tumor could be monitored for growth/ pain over the years instead.

At this point, I felt stuck. I had already made up my mind to get both surgeries, but was I making a mistake? I knew what “modified activity” meant, and I really did not want to give up high impact exercise. I mean call me insane, but I absolutely love jump squats! Nonetheless, I only had minutes to decide after given this opportunity to back down. Me being me, I went forward signing the papers confirming I would have both surgeries completed. After leaving the appointment, I was more confused then ever. I called my family asking what they thought, and they called every doctor they knew asking for a second opinion.

By the next day, my family gathered the insight that the heel tumor removal was not recommended (by the doctors they contacted), as there would be a risk of the surgery causing lifelong pain where there was none to start with.  I then knew I should back down on the heel surgery, but could I? It was only 2 days away at this point. In a slight panic, I called the doctors office to inquire if this could be done. Thankfully, the office called me back and I was able to alter my procedure.

Here we are one month post-op, I received my bunionectomy and my foot is healing very well, but the reality is I do need to conduct “modified activity” to prevent a heel fracture. After a slight grieving process in terms of my fitness aspirations, I’ve chosen to redirect my energy. Life threw me a huge road block, but instead of putting the car in park and remaining stagnant, I’ve chosen to take a new path. My previous goal might not be possible at this time, but there are so many destinations to choose from. For one, I’m taking time to commit to this blog, and for another I plan to work toward a yoga certification further down the line.

As I mentioned in the beginning, life happens fast and sometimes we commit to goals that are no longer serving us or aspirations that are no longer within our reach. I encourage you to slow down today and look at where you’re going. Is the destination still available, if so, is it worth your energy to get there? Your energy is precious. If you read my first blog post, you’ll know that there Is more to fitness than just exercise. To be truly fit we need to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. Choose to be fit, assess your efforts, and redirect when you need to. The end location is your future, and you should enjoy the ride.

 

Side Note- If you think medical stuff is neat. You can see my CT scan and post-op x-ray below. If not, bon voyage! ❤

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Bunion_LIHeel bone_LI

 

 

Welcome to the Blog

Hello there and welcome to the blog! This is a space where I plan to express my reflections on what it means to be overall fit and well. I’ll share both my professional and personal experience, in hopes that it may be helpful to those that find themselves here.


So why title the blog MaryPOP.FIT? Let me break it down:

Mary– Tis’ I

POP–                                                                                                                                                           1.) My love for POP Pilates (both teaching and practicing).
2.) My passion for creating balloon art (which hopefully doesn’t go POP, but
can add some POP’n fun and vibrancy to life at all ages).

FIT-
1.) I strive to be fit in all areas of my life, and to help others do the same through my professional endeavors. Whether it’s in the counseling office, at the gym, or at a local event; I strive to support others on their journey to overall fitness.


According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, fit means to be, “sound physically and mentally : healthy.” Fitness is more than diet and exercise, which go into the physical aspect, it’s also about the mind! It’s about fun, it’s about connectedness, it’s about learning, it’s about balance, it’s about happiness, and so much more.

So I hope you will join me as I begin this blogging journey, and that our paths crossing on the interwebz will be able to encourage you to keep workin’ on your fitness too. Trust me, you deserve it.

woman doing yoga pose facing sea
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com