The best thing I ever did for my mind was join the gym. It may seem like an odd thing to say but after having a gym membership for two years it’s transformed the way I view myself, exercise and my mental health.
In my 20’s I thought I could eat anything, go anywhere and not take my health seriously. But with so much research out there to show that the food we eat and exercise we do can impact our mood and mental health, I know this couldn’t be truer for me.
Two years ago, I found after a stressful day all I’ve wanted to do was curl up on the couch put a Netflix tv series on and order Indian takeaways. I knew this daily routine wasn’t helping me, it was only leaving me feeling worse about my day and myself.
So, I begin my journey with the gym… things needed to change. And not to mention the 10kgs I had gained in my 20’s from one to many wines and donuts.
At 29 years old I decided that I would join the local gym. We’ve all heard before that our body releases endorphins when we exercise but for me there was so much more to joining the gym that impacted my whole wellbeing.
Firstly, it gave me a healthier routine. My normal routine was to come home, eat a snack before dinner, then eat dinner and sit in front of the tv for the night. It took a while, but the new routine became head straight to the gym after work, it’s 60minutes of my day just for me and no one else. I can put my headphones on, listen to some fav music and spend some time working out, then head home for a healthier dinner, always something homecooked – goodbye takeaways!
I thought the gym was a place where you get in and get out, but I’ve found so many people want to talk, share their own journey and encouraged you along the way. If you were wanting to make new friends and feel constantly motivated I found the best thing to do was started going to group classes at the gym. If you miss a class or a week people will ask where you’ve been, great way to make friends but also it kept me accountable!
The Feel-Good Factor
Let’s be honest here, there are days I can’t be bothered going to the gym but have found I’ve never regretted a workout… like NEVER! I’ve left feeling like I have achieved something with my day and that has a huge impact on my mood. There have been days when work has been challenging, stressful and downright tough but going to the gym always improves my mood and helps destress me. I often leave feeling like I have achieved something, even if it is lifting a slightly heavier weight or running at a higher speed on the treadmill. The gym has given me a sense of achievement, no matter how big or small that maybe.
The Right Gym
One thing to note thought is not all gyms are created equal! In my 20’s I went to three different gyms with the intension of working out but just ending up being a donor each week to the gym managements pocket, as I never went. Find the right gym for you and you’ll find your people, the ones who care, who motivate and want to see you do well physically but also mentally.
Now I go to the gym, go out running and walk every weekend. I’m constantly amazed at how my mood and mental health has been positively impacted by exercise. If you’re struggling with your mental health, your mood or find yourself sitting in front of the tv in the evening try some form of exercise, you don’t have to be an Olympic athletic to begin, start small and you’ll find in no time the benefits out-way your excuses for not exercising.
For further information about health and fitness, check out our interview with Personal Trainer, Sean Lancaster: Watch Here