In 2015 I hit my lowest point. It was then that I realized how depressed I actually was. I was 27, about to marry the man of my dreams and had the world at my fingertips but felt like none of it mattered. Sitting here looking back, the depression started in the later years of middle school— between being bullied at school, having a dead-beat dad, a not-so-great relationship (if any) with a sibling— and it never really went away.
It’s important to understand that as humans it’s normal that we go through ups and downs but those feelings of not wanting to exist, or feeling worthless, or wanting to sleep 24/7, or not caring how you look, or crying for no reason, or not wanting to wake up the next morning on a regular basis— that is not normal. Those are signs that you need help.
And I did just that.
I got help.
After chatting with a therapist, I was told that depression was a life sentence and that I’d have to suffer through it with the help of medication. It was then that I realized I was sitting there watching life happen right in front of me, letting depression take over, instead of creating the life that I wanted… creating a life that I deserved.
Fast forward to today— people who meet me for the first time often tell me how happy I seem and how “lucky” I am for the life that I have. What they don’t know is how hard I’ve had to work for it. None of it is luck, it’s hard work and consistency. It turns out, hitting the gym for a solid hour each day was just what I needed to clear my head, focus on myself and boost my self-esteem. And as a I continued to fight I not only started to feel better mentally but physically as well.
These 5 reasons are how exercise helps me fight through depression:
1. It helps me when I’m feeling down. I make it a point to exercise at least 5-6 days per week, sometimes even the full 7, to stay on top of how I feel. Staying active helps me control stress, calms me down and when I’m finished I feel accomplished.
2. Pushing myself through a challenging workout boosts my self-esteem. I may not be able to run a 6-min mile but I can lift some serious weights, pushing myself through back-to-back sprints, or row harder than most. Feeling that physical pain has helped me realize that I’m not easily broken no matter how I’m feeling.
3. It’s helped me feel more confident. After I started exercising regularly, I started to not only improve mentally but I started to see a physical change. Because of that, I started to feel more confident— I’ve lost 130lbs since Nov 2015 and I’ve learned to love every bit of what my body can do regardless if it’s not where I want it to be.
4. It’s helped me learn how important me time is. Giving myself an hour each day has helped me understand how important it is to take time to yourself— it’s my time to reflect on how my day was, or to set the tone for my day.
5. When life is chaotic, exercise provides a sense of control and consistency. There are plenty of days that I can’t control how it goes or how I feel, which in turn makes me feel powerless. But what I do have control over is booking that 1-hour to focus on myself each day.
Tell me, why do you need fitness? Comment below!