Not Giving Up or Giving In: Vaughn’s Story

Recently we got some bad news about my dad’s health. Not merely bad news but really dreadful news, the kind that takes your breath away and makes you want to curl up in a little ball and cry. I know that everyone has similar tales of parents, relatives or friends who have had to face health challenges that they couldn’t seem to bear and seemed unreasonable and unfair and I’m not writing this to evoke sympathy but rather to share my struggle to keep going.

everybody has a planAs anyone who has been on a diet or started an exercise program knows at first generally things go quite well and then something happens, some type of stressor big or small and all goes to hell in a hand basket. The great thinker Mike Tyson’s quote resonates at this time, “Everybody has a plan ‘till they get punched in the face.”  And this has been a big punch in the face.

In the past, and to be truthful often still in the present. I have turned to food for solace the sweeter, richer, and chocolatier the better. I’ve talked to therapists and dieticians about it, read books and tried to come to grips with it but one thing I’ve found along the way is that food works. Not forever, not without damaging side effects but in the short haul it works.  It calms the anxiety, boosts the serotonin levels and keeps you functioning on a level that other coping mechanisms people use like alcohol or drugs do not provide.

Yes I know that the fix is temporary, I know that it doesn’t deal with the real emotions, I’ve seen first hand the long term effects on my health and yes I’m setting a bad example for my children blah blah blah. But when the proverbial s*&# hits the fan I want my bag of Hershey’s Kisses.  And taking this comfort away in times of extreme stress is probably not the ideal time to establish a lifestyle change. But this time I want it to be different.

This time I’m going to try and keep my commitment to a healthier me. I’m going to try and keep exercising as an outlet for the grief and the anger and to stave off the overwhelming tiredness that comes with overwhelming emotions. To be honest I’m not really sure how I’m going to do this. Perhaps I shouldn’t saw “try” because as Yoda says, “Do or do not, there is no try.” But really try is all I’ve got these days.

I do have three not-so-secret weapons. The first is my family. I have two young boys and they take it for granted that one of the things mom does is work out. They even asked, “How come you didn’t work out” when I missed a training session to travel to Calgary to see my dad. And my husband takes care of the boys giving me time to do my workouts. Maybe he thinks it’s a fair trade for having a (relatively) sane wife.  He will look at me when he can see my stress levels rising and say, “Why don’t you go for a run” but he also knows that there are still some days when only chocolate will suffice.  The second weapon is my trainer Paul. He’s a little less gentle with his prodding. Days when I’m out of town and miss my workout or when I say I’m stressed he’ll point out the obvious that I should go workout. And often he keeps bullying….  I mean gently persuading me… until I do it. Having these gentle and not so gentle reminders are the main reason I’m still keeping my commitment to exercise and a healthier lifestyle. The third thing that keeps me going is the people reading this blog, all 42 of them.  The ones who saw me declare my success with managing depression with exercise, the ones who read about my commitment to my health and the positive side effects that it has brought to my life.  To give up now would seem like I was letting you all down and letting myself down by throwing away all that I have accomplished.


But still it isn’t going to be easy. Frankly the last thing I want to do these days is exercise. In an earlier blog post I talked about a tattoo I got of the word “fortsätta” which in Swedish means “keep going.”  I think that’s a fair summary of what I can commit to right now. No big promises or declarations. No weight loss goals or new fitness expectations. Right now I can promise to keep going – fortsätta.


  1. Yolanda says:

    Keep going, Vaughn. We are all in your corner. Although distance separates us, you and your family are never far from our thoughts. Keep up the blogs… you are helping so many of us to keep our focus by being REAL. Thank you. ~Yolanda

  2. Heather Halpenny says:

    My dear Vaughn. Please be nice to yourself. If it means a bag of Chocolate kisses or a run, this is a lifelong project. Very kindest regards Heather Halpenny

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