Creating A Healthy Life After Divorce

This week I’m wrapping up Debbie’s story and these posts will be focused much more on her and what has helped her to heal. Discovering that her husband was a sex offender was very isolating and shook her to the core. Everything she had taken to be true was suddenly gone. How do you put yourself back together? Here’s Debbie:

I’ve always battled with my weight but during the divorce, I probably gained forty pounds. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, so I ate.

In the realm of vices, I suppose that’s not a bad one, but I wasn’t very happy with it. I go back to the,

“am I protecting myself from other men?” or whatever and it’s,

“no, I’m just eating.”

I’ve never been an athlete but since the divorce I’ve been working on figuring out how to recreate my life because everything I thought was going to happen, didn’t. The future I thought I had was gone. I kept saying,

“How am I going to recreate a healthy life for me and my son.”

I work with kids who’ve had cancer and I would see people doing Team in Training. Some of them are crazy athletes and do this all the time and then there are the couch potato people like me who do it to challenge themselves. I had always wanted to do it.

I wanted to do it just for the kids I’d known to go through treatment but when I turned forty and I was overweight and I was divorced, I really felt like I wanted to prove to myself that my ex hadn’t broken me. I wanted to prove that I could do something I never thought I could.

My mom was always one of those, “you can do anything you put your mind to” moms – we tease her all the time about it but that was how we were raised. Well, me doing a 100-mile bike ride definitely sounded like something I couldn’t do but I signed up and joined a team.

Training was a challenge because how do you train with a young kid without another parent to help. So I sent an email out to all my friends and said,

“This is something I want to do but I need your help. I don’t want your money, but can you help me with my son?”

People just stepped up and they’d take him and I trained. I followed their program and I rode 100 miles on a bike. I raised over $7,000 and it was a life-changing experience.

I was in much better shape but I lost no weight whatsoever. However, it didn’t break me. Doing something for somebody else, when so many people had done things to help me, was a very freeing thing to do.

I just made a commitment with the Team in Training to walk a half-marathon in the spring so that’s my new goal. I asked my son about it and because he’s older now, he was able to tell me how much he missed me when I was training for the bike ride. So when I explained I was walking and suggested we could take walks and train together, he loved the idea. He wants to be my coach.

Debbie’s next endurance is the Cleveland Half-Marathon in May 2011. She’s walking the event to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and has set her fundraising goal at $3,000. You can help her toward her goal by donating through her Team-In-Training page.

I think setting a hard physical challenge is a common goal many women set after divorce. Jolene (To Be Determined), who was scared of living alone after her divorce, became a kick-boxing instructor and T (Quest for T), who came to see that divorce is not a failure,  also rode in a long-distance bike ride.

This is not something I’ve done … I am not an athlete and definitely not a runner. I do enjoy being outdoors, hiking, walking and at one time, before it seemed like too much work, skiing. I think I would enjoy road-riding, and when I hear stories like Debbie’s that little voice inside me wonders if I could do something like this.Now I’m feeling guilty, wondering why I never make time for something like this?

What about you? Have you achieved a physical challenge since getting divorced? Why did you choose that particular challenge? How did it make you feel?

Photo Credit: T at The Quest for T

  • T

    Thanks for the shout out Mandy! I think many of us want to pick ourselves back up and do something we’ve neglected to do for ourselves during our marriages.

    Like you. I do remember you telling me you liked to dance. 😉

    Get back to it!

    Great post!

    • Mandy

      Yes .. I still have that dancing on my list 😉 Right now I’m taking an art and music history class for fun and I am loving it.

  • Molly @ Postcards From a Peaceful Divorce

    I think that a physical challenge is a very healthy way to deal with emotional stress. It can be very empowering. After my divorce I started doing a lot of yoga. I set myself the intention to do it 30 days in a row. Now I practice 4-5 times a week. Not only has it been great for me physically, mentally and emotionally, but it has also added a lot to my social life!

    • Mandy

      Doing anything for 30 days in a row is quite a commitment and different type of physical challenge than taking on a marathon or such. I know lots of people who’ve found yoga very beneficial.

  • Soccer Mom

    I signed up for a 4 mile run that I completed in early September. I am so not a runner (well, wasn’t) so this was a HUGE deal for me. And I’m keeping it up and love how it makes me feel so strong! Congrats Debbie on setting a goal that was for you and completing it!!!!!!!!!

    • Mandy

      Good for you. I am not a runner either – I have tried it but so far have never felt that it makes me strong :( Are some bodies just not designed for running?

  • Jolene

    Thanks T!! Love the shout-out of course, and think you can – and should – totally just go for it. You have it in you, I know it! :)