Fitness Friday: Emotional Flexibility / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

Fitness is defined as:

  1. capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort.

On Fridays, I tailor my posts towards physical fitness. The connection between exertion and breath and strength and effort. But this Friday I want to focus on emotional fitness and flexibility. 


 A good friend of mine ran the TCS New York City Marathon in early November. We trained together and it was an amazing experience; We grew as women, wives, mothers and runners.  The day of the marathon I tracked her progress and cheered wildly when she crossed the finish line. She was with me when I struggled to approach the finish at the Philadelphia Marathon two weeks later. Since then she (and a few other friends) tried to convince me to run NYC. Honestly, I know it’s the creme de la creme of marathons, but I legit had no interest. None. But when the 2018 lottery rolled around I debated and discussed it and finally entered the lottery. I shared it with her (and my Fairy Runstigators) and then I forgot about it. 


Until the eve eve of the drawing. As I was leaving the dance studio after Baby Girl’s dance class on Tuesday she wished me luck. (Did I mention that we are dance moms?) What did I need luck for? It turned out the drawing was taking place ALL DAY on Wednesday. I made her agree to run Philly with me if I got in to NYC. We’d be running two marathons in two weeks. Crazy, I know, but you already have to be a certain kind of crazy to join the 1% of the world’s population that has run 26.2 miles. Good luck, she reiterated. And then it happened. I began to get excited and anticipate what it would be like to run the streets of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. I mean it is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. 


I woke up to a text from my friend:


And by wait for the email what I really meant was, I’ll check my email incessantly ALL DAY. For someone who had no interest in running NYC, I was all in. My hopes were high. I had wrapped my head around actually running two marathons in two weeks. I was geeked to run again (I’m in a slump). NYC here I come!


By the time I was getting ready for bed, I still wasn’t in (or out). I texted my friend who assured me that the drawing was still going on. So I checked my email and my credit card (I said I wasn’t, but I was desperate) before I wound down for bed. 


I woke up to this email: 


My heart sank. I was so disappointed. I didn’t expect to feel that deeply about not getting into a race I had no interest in running in the first place. But I was hurt and feeling left out and not good enough (child please, it’s a lottery).   I told my hubby who consoled me and chuckled that I hadn’t even told him. It took more than half the day and some encouraging words, from friends and myself, to get over the disappointment. 


If physical fitness is the capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort, then I would suggest that emotional fitness and flexibility is the capability of the heart and mind of centering itself in contentment, peace, and joy during increased emotional distress. 


Emotional fitness and flexibility is as important as physical fitness. Life has a way of dishing out situations and circumstances that, if we are not flexible and resilient, would cause us to break. And sadly, without emotional fitness and flexibility we could become so beaten down by the disappointments that we atrophy into a state of despair, or worse, apathy. As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of Winter depression, I would not survive winters and thrive if not for God’s grace and strong emotional fitness. 

So while I am a little bummed that I won’t be running the streets of NYC in the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon, I am grateful for this experience. The disappointment caused me to connect to my supports and dig deep within to be content with the outcome and renewed my excitement for returning to Philadelphia on November 19, 2018 to show those 26.2 miles what I’m made of.


So, how do you remain emotionally fit? Comment below and keep the conversation going...