For me, working out has never solely been about my appearance. Although that is a big part of it for me – I love looking strong and toned – I mainly work out for the mental strength, and the clarity it gives me. The clarity I get from working out is something I’ve never been able to get, anywhere else.
I’ve always been a super anxious and naturally depressive person. I feel every emotion so strongly that sometimes I can’t even focus on day to day tasks… so whenever I’m low, I’m really low. I don’t handle stress particularly well, and when I start doubting my abilities, my talent, or become concerned about what my future is going to look like – I fall into these really dark holes and get stuck there for days – sometimes weeks.
I’ve tried many things to pull me out of these places. I’ve tried the positives – affirmations, therapy, talking to a loved one. And I’ve tried the negatives – food, alcohol, drugs, sex… Nothing has been able to pull me out… not even the person that I love or spending time with my family. The only thing that has been able to pull me out of that dark place full of hopelessness has been fitness.
Whenever I feel these tinges of sadness – the last thing I want to do is go to the gym. I want to sit on the couch, drink beer and eat chicken wings until I puke…but the reality is that even being able to get up and walk out of the door, sit in my car and drive to the gym is a form of mental discipline. That small step alone, even if I get a shitty workout, is proof of the power I have.
Once I get to the gym I don’t want to be there – but I push through it and I always come out better, refreshed and a little less hopeless on the other side. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, bi-polar (which I struggle with on a daily basis) or any other form of mental struggle… try working out. Grab a buddy and get into it together. Make a full day out of it and head out to a beautiful hike, eat a healthy meal and express your feelings with someone who will listen.
Fitness has changed my life because I know that whenever I’m feeling like I just want to give up, whenever I’m feeling like I can’t take another minute of being here, I can get to the gym or run around the corner – and my body heals itself from the inside out.
If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. I know how it feels to be lost, to be so anxious that you can barely talk, to be so caught up in your negative talk that you have no idea how you’re going to get past it. I know how it feels and I also know that it helps to open up – to talk to someone who knows what you’re going through, and to get up off of the couch and hit the gym.
You will be so happy you did.
So that’s how working out has changed my life. I still have these moments of despair, and quite frankly I just had one which is why I decided to write this post. After having a terrible day yesterday full of sadness, negative self-talk, a lack of kindness and respect for myself and the ones closest to me – I decided to get up and take a 6:00 AM spin class. Something I’ve never done before.
There were so many thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head and being there and pushing my body helped me to release them. I even started crying during the class, but I have no shame. Let it all go. We are in charge of our fate! Don’t let your brain rule your life.
I’m not gonna let my negative thoughts rule mine. I’ve also started reading this book by Brenee Brown called – The Gifts of Imperfection; Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. This book has truly helped me to recognize things like this that help me to love myself. Click on the title and buy the book. It’s a short read and so, so worth it.