Happy Place

I got asked a question a month ago and the question is in an abrupt ‘inform me please’ tone which I didn’t appreciate.

Why do you go to the gym?

This person then went on to say (before I could answer) “well look at you. You don’t need it”. Who are you to tell me what I need? This person had never met me before and had a very ‘self-entitled’ vibe. I don’t mind if people are curious or genuine but with her tone taken it was much of a personal dig. I responded by saying “I go for my mental health”. This person continued to say “well…why don’t you walk around the forest or ride a bike”. Again, this person doesn’t know me. If this person knew me, they would know I live in a very busy city. Where is the forest? And I can’t afford a bike on top of all the other expenses in life. Even if I could afford a bike I wouldn’t have much of a good environment to ride it in. But as she was questioning my life, I couldn’t help but think, why do I have to justify my actions to anyone.

Whether you go gym for mental health, Instagram, medical conditions etc that’s your wish and what you do in the gym is completely up to you. Whether you spend an hour only on the treadmill or spend the majority of your time lifting weights, as long as you are happy that is all that matters.

People find what works for their mental health in different places. A lot of people take up hobbies or go travelling, whereas I spend my time in the gym weight training. I like the feeling. I like going on the treadmill to think and clear my head and I like going to a gym where no one knows me and I can zone out. I know many people who go to the gym and tell me how relieved and amazing they feel once they have left. Yes, this has a lot to do with endorphins being released and cheering us up but the gym isn’t always that happy place for everyone. For example, I love shopping online and I love the feeling of something I want being delivered to me, trying it on, seeing how it looks and fits and suddenly I have a new outfit I can’t wait to wear out but that happiness is not the same happiness and me pushing my mind and body in the gym. That is the one place I can go and switch off and I can’t say that about a lot of places.

Moral of the post is, don’t let anyone question your actions. I took that question very personal because I felt the need to defend my mental health and when people ask questions like that, they don’t realise how you might interrupt it. Find your happy place and let it take care of you.

Period work out

The menstrual cycle controls our mood the whole month and we don’t even realise. The assumption that we cry and eat our feelings through the 7-day bleed (or however long) is not always correct.

Some symptoms may be present for the whole month whether physical or mental however they become more present the week before or the week of.

Mentally the cycle can bring on distress, anxiety, upset and mood swings. I don’t tend to have these signs but a week beforehand I tend to lose motivation and gain self-doubt and low mood. So how do I still manage to get to the gym?

It’s not easy. I’m very organised and stick to a routine. Due to the routine. The thought of sitting at home on my period doesn’t sit well with me. I’d end up feeling fat (due to the bloating) and blah that I let this get the better of me. So I just don’t sit around. I get up and keep life moving.

I’ve come to realise I feel a lot better when I go to the gym and keep active whilst on my period. I feel the need to keep my muscles moving and to take my mind of the situation. The aim is to keep my endorphins at a high in order to keep my well-being at bay. The downfall to going to the gym on my period is having to focus more on what I wear. I usually put on anything and go, but whilst on my period if the black leggings aren’t around I’m not going. If the leggings aren’t thick enough I’m not going. I don’t care whether the panty line is obvious, people in the gym shouldn’t be looking at me anyways but the key whilst on the period is to feel comfortable. This is a reason why a lot of women I know don’t go to the gym during this time however, think about the ways to get around it. My gym has a women-only section so that is my back-up if I begin to feel uncomfortable in general public (sounds like I’m talking about jail). I don’t do heavy weights and I tend to walk instead of run on the treadmill as during the week on period my legs get very weak to the point it looks like I’m shaking to stay standing.

Become adaptable and don’t use your period to sit at home feeling sorry for being a woman and complaining at men have it better than us. Keep it moving!

How working out, works out

If it wasn’t for the gym I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t mean physically, I mean mentally and emotionally.

When seeking professional advice I had to create goals to reach within 6 weeks. I didn’t reach any of the goals within this time as I felt due to severe depression and anxiety it was near impossible. However, one of my goals was to get my confidence back and I believed that if I got my body confidence up to a certain level it would improve my confidence overall; therefore my goal was to join the gym and work on my fitness.

I would occasionally go on hikes or work out at home with a YouTube video I could relate to but there was not much consistency. I use to regularly do pilates and go on walks but over the year due to my health that had changed. In 2017 I decided I didn’t want to go to the gym and purely lost weight through healthy eating. Healthy eating is beneficial, refreshing and from evidence, I could say it helped mentally. Getting rid of a heavy carb based diet helped with mood swings. I also found adding vegetarian meals to my diet (especially during work lunchtimes) made me feel less grumpy and have more energy to get through the day.

Since joining the gym in 2018 (several months after therapy) everything changed. Being at the gym takes the mind off negativity. At the gym, being focused on exercise gives us time to think about ourselves; its an escape. We use this time to talk to ourselves, thinking about what we would be like if we worked more on our fitness, questioning why we didn’t join sooner.

On top of that, exercise changes moods and is an ideal start for tackling anxiety, depression and stress. Not only that but, research shows it improves self-esteem, confidence and motivation. Truth is in the pudding!

Since being more active I’ve been more social, confident and selfish, which in terms of your mental health is not a bad thing at all!

Recommendations:

  • Get on board the smoothie trend. This is a really refreshing detox, helps with weight loss and its been known ingredients such as Avocado, Blueberries Ginger and Almonds reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Join a gym or fitness group.
  • Try a new activity you’ve never done before and take a friend. I recently tried Pole Dancing 2 weeks ago and loved it (as shown on Instagram; definitely something I would continue with.
  • Lay of the snacks and fast foods; research shows this has negative impacts on mental health and moods.
  • Get a buddy. Have someone close to you who is willing to give you that extra push when you feel like giving up or lacking in motivation. In addition, click Let’s Talk.
  • Research further health benefits.
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