Begin (Confessions)

I saw this post in my Facebook feed this today and knew I had to write something about it.

Beginner

…Because this is truth.

We all have to start somewhere.  We are all beginners.  We will not know our full abilities until we try.

When I first began my fitness journey I could not do a full three minutes on my elliptical.  In fact, I found it so hard that I gave up.  I was winded and sweaty (I still sweat like I’m burning in Hell) and, frankly, I was embarrassed that a mere three minutes of cardio nearly killed me and I gave up!

I had bought that elliptical on a whim of trying wanting to be healthy (read: skinny) and I failed.  And, apparently, at that time I was okay with failure.  But then one day, that one particular day, I made a decision and my life changed – forever and for the best.  I swear to God, that elliptical saved my life.  I saw this with all seriousness and certainty.  I was on a path that was destroying me.  My self-esteem was shot, my mental health was in the toilet, and I was overweight to a degree that I should never have let happen.

And I jumped on my elliptical and had my first real workout.

And, although I swore I would never publicly show this photo – I realized, “well shoot!  This was me!  This is what I looked like!”  So, here goes:

Side by side

Left: Before / Right: After 

Yep!  The pic on the left with the scratched out face and the really, really badly blonde hair is me.

And you know what’s sad?  I I don’t even recognize that person on the left and I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to treat my body that way. After A Lot of hard work, dedication, and discipline, the pic on the right reflects closer to where I am today. But each day I grow in my fitness. I’m so much stronger and adventurous in my exercising. And I look forward to challenging myself daily.

Once I started exercising regularly and eating healthier, I started feeling better on the inside too.  I know not everyone gets this or agrees. But this is 100% true for me. Exercise helped bring me out of a 10 year depression. It helped with my self-esteem and confidence.  There are days when I still struggle with these but overall, I’ve become a different person.  (Give it a chance….you might be shocked to find that exercise can help you too.)

Mood changer

When I look back to those years ago and hopping on my elliptical and failing miserably at my first attempt of working out, I almost feel glad,  Because I was doing it for the wrong reason.  As I said above, I wanted to start exercising to get thin, not to have a better life.  And it wasn’t until I decided to change my life that my life changed.  That’s when I really began.

So, don’t be afraid to begin.  Even if it means you’re starting over or beginning again.  It’s when you’re really ready that you will make the effort.  As you know, my mantra for years has been “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Thank you Shaun T!)  Again, #Truth!

So, don’t be afraid.  Go ahead and begin.  And if you have to, begin again.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fitness: The Only Known Cure for Anxiety (Guest Post)

The wonderful team (and in particular, Dan Chabert) at Runnerclick.com have been kind enough to provide me with the following article.

As someone who has personally been affected by depression and anxiety in the past, I can attest that regular exercise can improve your mood and, in turn, really change your life.  I truly believe that exercise “cured” my depression (thank you, endorphins).  While this may not be true for everyone, and some of you may not agree with the statements below, it is definitely an enlightening read.

~FB

FITNESS:  THE ONLY KNOWN CURE FOR ANXIETY

Psychological symptoms such as anxiety have been scientifically proven to affect multiple aspects of fitness like endurance, conditioning, and concentration. However, fitness can positively affect psychological symptoms, and reduce both anxiety and stress. Fitness does not only keep our body in shape, but it also works our minds as well. Daily exercise is powerful enough to notably reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, also improving your overall psychological and physical health.

Scientific Background

Multiple researches have been performed to study the relation between anxiety and fitness, and how they affect each other. Studies conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Harvard Medical School as well as other health organizations and private researchers have revealed that fitness maintains a solid mental state and it can reduce anxiety and stress.

Exercise is very effective at diminishing fatigue, while enhancing awareness and focus. It is also proven to increase our cognitive capacity in general. This comes in extremely handy when anxiety clouds your mind and stops you from focusing.

Sessions of yoga, running, and other dynamic activities have shown to stabilize anxiety issues that affect the brain. Some people underestimate the effects that anxiety can produce to their body, thinking it´s just a psychological issue and not realizing how taxing it can be for their physical activities.

The US Department of Health and Human Services performed an investigation in which they found that participating in multiple fitness activities and aerobic training will reduce considerable amounts of mental tension, improve self-esteem and overall mood. Exercise works as a natural cure for anxiety and other psychosomatic symptoms.

Using Fitness as Psychological Therapy

For a long time, many psychologists have included exercise and fitness activities such as running, yoga, bike riding and swimming to their therapy. In fact, regular sessions of such activities may have an effect even greater than any possible medication.

While exercising, your body produces considerable amounts of endorphins, which work as completely natural analgesics for your mind, also refining sleep. After beginning a session, some people might be able to note important changes in their mood during the first 10 minutes of exercise, stimulating effects that reduce nervousness.

If exercising has a positive impact on your mind during short training sessions, making a frequent exercise schedule can be a definitive solution to your mental stress. Fitness will help you keep a clear mind and a healthy body all at the same time, it doesn´t get any better than that.

However, each therapy has a different outcome on each patient just like in any other case. Your body may generate a positive reaction when training and perhaps even relieve your anxiety for good, just like it might not have any impact at all on your symptoms. Regardless, one thing is for sure; fitness will help you improve your physical health, and this is undeniable.

Incorporating Exercise to your Therapy

For optimal results, you should look for a physical activity that best suits your personal preferences. Some anxiety patients prefer to clear their mind with a calm and quiet activity; practicing yoga is a perfect solution for these cases.

For more active exercises, running is an awesome idea. Going out for a jog with fresh air is very likely to reduce your mental symptoms in a matter of minutes. Concentrate on the path, admire everything throughout your trip and let your mind take off from daily pressure and anxiety. Running will clear up your mind while improving important aspects of your physical form.

You can always get a running buddy to add an extra layer of distraction to your exercise therapy. Social interaction while exercising is a great way to distract your mind from anxiety, stress, depression and other symptoms that cloud your brain. Some therapists recommend running or exercising with other patients of similar cases. Group therapy allows you to measure your progress along with other people under similar circumstances to yours.

If you prefer individual therapy, a playlist of your favorite relaxing music is always a great companion. Select songs that have a positive impact in your mood, ones that help you relax and that you can feel working with your activity. Music also has a very interesting scientific background in reducing symptoms like anxiety and similar.

If your body or mind can´t get used to physical activities, it might be an indicator that you need more time to adapt yourself. Don´t quit if you don´t see immediate progress, experiment different methods of practicing each activity and let your body adapt for one to two months before giving up on exercise therapy.

Fitness & Anxiety Disorders

Everyone has been through anxiety during a point of their life. However, when it comes to anxiety disorders, over 35 million people compose the most common symptom in the United States– This is where fitness comes in.

Research suggests that when it comes to anxiety, the exercise intensity is not really relevant to the treatment. A calm 15-minute long walk can be as effective as an hour-long intense training session. It´s a matter of personal comfort, where your body and mind try to find an activity that distracts you from these disorders.

A single exercise session will produce temporary results. A simple walk across the park can provide multiple hours of mind peace and declining in negative psychological symptoms; this effect is similar to the one of an analgesic for a common pain.

Not only does fitness work as a solution, but is also works as a prevention method. Investigators point out that people who practice physical activities are less likely to suffer from anxiety. Making fitness a habit in your life can lessen the amounts of anxiety.

Writer’s Bio:

DAN CHABERT

chabert-2

Dan Chabert

Dan is an entrepreneur from Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a husband first and ultramarathon distance runner second. The websites monicashealthmag.com, nicershoes.com & runnerclick.com keep him busy, as well as being featured in many different runner blogs all over the world.

Mind, Body, Mood

Mind, body, mood

I’m sure you already know that exercise is good for your mental health.

Remember what Elle said about exercise and endorphins in Legally Blonde?

It’s true! Exercise releases endorphins – these endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain, and also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. You know that rush we feel during/after a workout or the runner’s high you hear about so often? That is the endorphins at work.

I speak right now from the heart. For a very long time I suffered from severe depression. I was so sad all the time and for no reason. My heart just ached. This went on for years. It ruined relationships. It put stress on my body and on my mind. And a few times it nearly killed me. I spent many, many years on antidepressants; trying this one and that one but never fully getting over the depression.

It wasn’t until I started exercising that my depression lifted. And the more I exercised the better I felt. The sadness went away, my moods were happier, my soul felt free, and my body was so much healthier.

I spent all those years on medications that seemed to hinder more than they helped. But since I began working out regularly 10 years ago my life completely changed – including my mental health.**

**I am in no way at all endorsing one stop taking medications, especially those with depression or other mental health disorders. Please do not take this as that. I’m merely suggesting adding exercise to your current daily dose and see if it can help. Perhaps a regular fitness program can compliment your current program (whatever that may be – medication, counselling, etc.). If you have any questions talk to your doctor or health professional. See if you can get some of those endorphins flowing. I want you to feel good. I want you to feel your best. And I know that for many, your best may include medications (it did for me). But I also want your heart and your soul to feel great, and exercise *may* be the way to help with that.

~Fit Bitch