I’m an objectively positive person. I realize it is odd to claim something that feels quite subjective, but actually, in doing some strength-based testing at my job, it turns out that I can claim “positivity” as one of my top five attributes. I shouldn’t be surprised. No matter my age, the most common compliment I have ever received was for my smile.
Despite being able to see the good when many others can’t, I’m not consistently positive. In fact, in understanding my positivity more, I have come to realize that by being this way, I’m not protecting myself against negativity. My good attitude can only withstand so much coming at it. Being positive means I seek out positivity as well, so when I can’t find any, I can quickly sink.
Once, when I was in middle school, a guy friend that I had a crush on told me that my eyes looked like barf. I held on to that hurtful statement for years. I told myself that my one true love would be the person who found my eyes intoxicating. He would get lost in them while singing Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl to me. He would, without prompting, reverse the heartbreak from middle-school by telling me that I had the most beautiful eyes in the world. And that is how I would know that I had found the person to marry.
It probably wasn’t until I experienced being pregnant for the first time that I really ever loved my body. All of a sudden, my stomach was something to show off instead of being ashamed of it. I wanted it to get bigger and rounder. I began to feel the strength I had to carry that baby, to birth that baby, to nurture that baby, to love that baby… I discovered a strength I never even imagined I had.
That body-love just continued (at least for a little bit). While my post-partum body began to discourage me, the newfound recognition of my strength helped me find new ways to embrace myself. I could keep feeling body-positivity as long as I continued to find ways to remind myself of my strength.
That’s when I started running for the first time. I hated running before. Suddenly it was something I could do to prove my strength to myself day in and day out. Each day I managed to tie my sneakers was a win. I celebrated each time I increased my distance or my speed or shortened my walk times. I ran right over the negative messages I was constantly hearing. And I did it because I could. I had the strength to do it. I only had to prove it to myself. I began to love to run; I loved discovering my own strength, and I loved how I felt afterwards. Those feelings permeated into every part of my life. I felt confident. I loved myself.
I have since learned that everyone can benefit from running, and not just for the obvious reasons. Of course, exercise is great for physical health, but aerobic exercise – like jogging – is newly recommended in guidelines to help treat mild to moderate anxiety or depression. In fact, research shows exercise that raises your heart rate for at least 25 minutes can have the same effect on your brain as anti-depressant drugs! I have struggled with my own mental health challenges, and my worn-out sneakers know first-hand (or, first-foot, if you will) just how true this is.
Everyone can benefit from running, and not just for the obvious reasons. Aerobic exercise – like jogging – is newly recommended to help treat mild to moderate anxiety or depression.
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On this journey, I’m running a race. I was planning to run races this summer (I hardly ran any last year!) so when Shoppers Drug Mart asked me to be an Ambassador for the SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women series, I could not have been more excited. I’m doing this race for me, and I’m doing it for other women. The most beautiful thing about the Run for Women races is that they support local mental health initiatives for women. In 2017, Run for Women set a record, raising $1.9 million, and this year the target is set even higher at $2.2 million! Every dollar raised allow women to take the next steps to mental health recovery.
You can run or walk this race with me! Come join me on May 6th in Moncton, NB by signing up under the LOVE. YOU. Ambassadors team. When you do that, you’ll have the chance to win one $150 gift card from Shoppers Drug Mart, or a pair of If you’re not able to be in Moncton on May 6th, don’t worry! You can still sign up for the “LOVE.YOU. Ambassadors” team in (excluding Quebec). In each city, only registrants on the “LOVE. YOU. Ambassadors” team will have the chance to win.
Here’s how you register:
- Select the city you want to run or walk in
- Answer whether or not you are a Shoppers Drug Mart employee
- Copy/Paste “LOVE. YOU. Ambassadors” into the team search bar
- Register for the 5k run/walk team, with your information
I hope you’ll join me. It is my way of helping to tear down the negativity that is thrown at us day in and day out. Together we can help reduce stigma around mental wellness.