13 July 2017

Real Talk | How Fitness Has Strengthened My Mental Health

How Fitness Has Strengthened My Mental Health - Happy & confident
So this blog post is a little different to my usual ones. Instead of advice & motivation, it's more of a personal chat - one that I hope will help others going through something similar & will also explain why I love working out so much!
I love weight training - it's my thing. Cardio wasn't for me, I'm not a runner or an athlete, but weight training, yoga & boxing make me happy. And that's the most important thing - finding a form of exercise you enjoy, because once you do, you can't get enough. Why weight training in particular? It makes me feel so strong & empowered & unbelievable! I come out of the gym feeling like no one can tear me down, because I am confident with what my body can do. I am happy & confident now.
But I wasn't always. I don't really talk about this side of me much, I know a few people who are going through things much worse & I almost feel selfish to talk about my little problem. But I feel it's something I now want to share - in order to help others feel happier too! People who know me, probably see me as quite a shy, reserved girl at times - that is not me truly. I'm silly, immature & love a good adventure. But I can be very quiet when I'm feeling uncomfortable or nervous. And I think this had a lot to do with why things became so bad.

How Fitness Has Strengthened My Mental Health - Happy & confident journey
It was during my time at uni - a few bad experiences with cruel comments, intense amount of stress & dealing with my own insanely high expectations for myself. My confidence took a knock & so did my health. I began suffering with intense anxiety & OCD - everything in my life had to be in a certain order or way, otherwise I would feel this overwhelming sense of chaos, like something terrible would happen if I didn't do certain things. At one point, it was so bad, it made me feel physically sick - I had lost control over my life.
The effects were not just mental either - I started feeling quite unwell. I was feeling really 'spaced out' & light headed, certain areas of my body was in pain & I was developing some really scary chest pains. Naturally, as somebody who is extremely anxious, I avoided going to the doctors, because I was scared of the outcome. Instead I suffered in silence, which was the worst possible thing to do. It made all my symptoms a lot worse.
So what made things suddenly change? I was enjoying an evening at the cinema, when the chest pains started again. I chose to ignore it. Then my limbs started to tingle & go numb; my whole body began to shake uncontrollably, I couldn't catch my breath & the pain in my chest was getting worse & worse. I thought I was having a heart attack! It was the scariest moment of my life! But luckily, it turned out to be a severe panic attack. When I finally took that trip to my doctors, it turned out all the side effects were a result of extreme stress & anxiety - my chest muscles had tightened so much, it was causing pain, the anxiety was causing my dizziness & the panic attack was almost the eruption my body needed to give it a little relief.
So that is my story. But where does fitness come into it? So I began my fitness journey at uni, but only doing cardio & really not enjoying it. It was just after my panic attack, that my boyfriend introduced me to weight training. Although still a beginner, I found I had a passion for this activity & a keen interest to learn more. Through reading up, discovering new workouts & learning more about living & eating a healthier lifestyle, I began to piece back my confidence.
How Fitness Has Strengthened My Mental Health - Happy & confident - Carly Rowena fitspo inspirationHow Fitness Has Strengthened My Mental Health - Happy & confident - Heidi Somers fitspo inspiration
       Carly Rowena                                                                                                                                         Heidi Somers
It was only really when I found some true role models to connect to within the fitness industry - Carly Rowena & Heidi Somers - that my passion became so much more. They have not only taught me how to train, but how to eat a sustainable, healthy diet, how to sculpt the body I want & most importantly how to be confident once more.
To me, weight training has done so much more than improve my strength. It has given me a hobby, it makes me want to live healthier & challenge myself further, it's given me a healthy relationship with my food & it makes me feel empowered. But most importantly - finding that exercise that I love, has given me back my control. I am now far stronger mentally, far less tense & so much happier than ever before. I can truly say that I am now confident to be me, because I know I am capable of some great things & no one can ever take that away from me.
So that is why I train. Not only has it made me stronger physically, but has built my mental strength far more than I ever thought possible. To anyone who is going through anxiety, stress or health issues, my best advice would be to find that exercise that you love. Not only does exercise make you feel great - because of the endorphins - but it helps show you just how incredible your body is & what it is capable of. And with that, comes a new type of independent confidence. So go forth & explore!
How Fitness Has Strengthened My Mental Health - Happy & confident Fitness


No comments:

Post a Comment