Whether or not we like to admit it, we have all been through difficult times which have affected our mental wellbeing. I think I’m safe in saying that 2020 has been the biggest challenge ever to our mental health.
4 years ago, I was overweight, unfit and unhappy. After being through copious amounts of bad relationships and subsequently bad breakups, I found myself on a path to self-destruction. I thought that partying and stuffing my face with all the chocolate, alcohol and pizza I could find would heal me, but it only made things worse. It was at this point I decided to make a change. A change that would not only have a positive impact on my body, but on my mind too.
I found fitness.
I’d never really been into sports, but pushing myself to go for that swim or that fitness class at the gym really started to change my mindset. It started to make me think that I was much more capable of things than I realised. It wasn’t long before I plucked up the courage to hit the weight room, and something just clicked. My confidence started to grow as I became happier with how my body looked, but also, I’d found a focus and an escape (even if just for an hour) from the outside world.
I found there was nothing better than putting some loud music on the headphones, usually some angry rock music, and thinking of nothing else but the set, and the next machine.
Fast forward to 2020, and I’m following a plan set by a coach with a goal to compete in my first ever bodybuilding show…
The conversation of mental health has certainly been at the forefront of 2020 with the (what seems never ending) Coronavirus Pandemic. For 2 months of lockdown 1.0, I was on furlough and I’ll be honest, the thought of not having a purpose each day initially frightened me and I felt lots of anxious thoughts creep in. But I threw myself into a fitness routine, taking part in IG Live HIT Classes first thing in the morning and going for as many walks as I possibly could. I took my gym equipment out into the sunshine (getting fit and getting a tan at the same time is surely a bonus!), and the days on furlough and in lockdown just melted away. In fact, it was probably the fittest I’d been in my life!
I found throwing myself into fitness gave me something to focus on. It made me feel good. It helped me mentally deal with the state of the world outside the walls of my garden. It became my escape, just as it had been for the last 4 years. Because let’s face it, when you're holding weights above your head you can really think of anything other than ‘don’t drop it, don’t drop it!’.
I found that, in a world with so many things out of our control, it became the one thing in life that at the time was CONTROLLABLE. It was stable. It made life feel a bit less chaotic.
Fitness has taught me that; It doesn’t care about those bad relationships. Fitness doesn’t care if you cried all day. Fitness doesn’t care about the journey you took to get here. All it cares about is that you showed up. Just showing up is already winning.
Written by Leanne Mumby