“The best way out is always through.” ~ Robert Frost
A few people have given me this advice throughout my life. I’ve also read about it. I always thought it was interesting, but it was one of those things that was so ethereal, it didn’t ever really stick. As I get older it’s starting to make a bit more sense.
It comes down to problem-solving. Choosing what you want for your life is entirely up to you. I’ve been in denial about it for a long time, but for me, exercise, food and relationships are the recipe for my perfect life.
Let’s start with exercise. There are excuses like: I don’t have the time to exercise every day or I don’t have the energy to exercise every day. However, I now know that exercise is the means to an end. It’s going to give me the energy I want. It’s going to help get me the body I want. So, I have to figure out what I can change in my life – what I can shift or cut out completely – to make room for the exercise that I know needs to be a priority. What can I do to make myself look forward to this period of exercise every day? A playlist of my favorite songs or my favorite Pandora station (Counting Crows) makes my exercise time an escape to somewhere fun. Reminding myself that I am strong and capable and energetic rather than using the negative self-talk of “I can’t” or “I don’t have time” or “I’m tired” is also helpful. Exercising outside is energizing and rejuvenating. And then, there’s the ‘just do it’ factor – just make it a habit – the way out is through.
When you exercise regularly, you get the benefit of endorphins. You crave them after awhile which makes exercise easier to fit in. You want that feeling again. The brain hormones that are affected by food make food the most difficult part of this equation. The strong emotional reactions we have to the taste of food make it so difficult to resist. You have cravings that are sometimes uncontrollable. Rationally, I know that to get to the level of health I seek, I need to eat well. I know how eating good food makes me feel. I know that eating good food in the right amounts consistently requires planning and conscious, diligent effort on my part. So, I need to make time to plan to have this food in my house, accessible. The way out is through.
If I am being honest, open and vulnerable in my relationships, they improve. Everyone’s been hurt. Everyone eventually needs to set limits in their lives. It is a painful (but also liberating, in a way) reality that there are people I can’t allow close to me. The people I have chosen to be a part of my life deserve my time and attention. They deserve all of me. If I have chosen well, there’s no reason to put up protective barriers. Those barriers don’t offer protection from hurt anyway – they just create misunderstandings and hard feelings. It’s true what they say: great relationships take work. They take time. They take patience. They take effort. The way out is through.
It’s up to each of us, every day, to figure out how this looks in our lives. How does this all fit together to make our lives the best they can be? The way out of unhappiness, joylessness, and poor health is through exercise, healthy food and honest, open relationships. Realizing that is the easy part. Practicing it – honoring ourselves and our relationships – is the work of a lifetime. I struggle with this work every day. We’re in this struggle together. The way out is through.