12 Ways to Use Fitness as an Outlet
Sometimes life has a way of smacking you in the face with unexpected news or circumstances. This is exactly what happened to me a year ago as I thought I had my life planned out. Little did I know, a big wrench would be thrown in that plan that would hinder me. Shortly after receiving this news, I became depressed. If it weren’t for Josh Bowen contacting me about possibly training again, I would still be in that deep, dark place. Instead of spiraling out of control, I grabbed my feelings by the horns and began to use fitness as my outlet. I have yet to look back. There is no better way to deal with emotional and mental stress than with exercise. I can personally attest that channeling your worries, stress, or anxiety through exercise is the best medicine one can prescribe. I will share how this worked for me, and hopefully how it will help you as well.
1. Increased self esteem. It is no secret that if you begin a work out regimen, and if it is done correctly, you will begin to see changes in your body. This can immediately boost one’s self confidence. Once you start to believe in yourself, depression and anxiety levels will begin to decrease, and you are well on your way to a better you.
2. Meditation. The moment when your mind takes you to a zone where you have no care in the world is so peaceful. It is a relief to set aside those problems for that hour. Some channel their stress through running, kick boxing, or yoga depending on their exercise preference.
3. Amped up endorphins. Ah yes, the feel good hormone or the” runner’s high” as some call it. It won’t happen every time you work out but when it does (man does it feel good.) It can be a relief to leave your worries at the door and focus on the task at hand. I find that the best mood of the day comes after I have exercised which is due to the released endorphins thus reducing stress levels.
Creates a sense of community.
4. Sometimes you can be in this journey alone and won’t have the support of your family or friends. They will say “I just don’t get it.” If this is the case, it is important to find the people that do “get it.” I have met some of my better friends through fitness. Some were from a running group while another is Josh, who helped me find my passion for fitness again. These friendships are very important, as each of them has lifted me up when I was down and held me accountable. Having a network of people who believe in what you do makes this journey a lot easier.
5. You’ve seen it — from runners and Crossfitters, to Barre goers and Mudders. It is a sense of community and a sense of belonging. It is a built-in support system, something very much needed during trying times. You don’t even have to participate in any of the above. Just grab a couple of friends and start your own workout regimen. Create your own support system.
6. Some of these relationships that are created in the fitness world continue to grow outside of that. A few years ago, I began running with two girls whom I didn’t know very well. We eventually made plans to meet for dinner, coffee, Pure Barre classes, and even started a book club. They quickly turned into two of my closest friends and little did we know, we would be helping one another through some tough times. It is important to constantly surround yourself with positivity especially if you are not in a good place in life.
7. Better sleep. One of the most important factors in leading a healthy lifestyle is good sleep habits. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night which is essential in preventing health-related problems. The more you work out, the easier it will be to get that amount of sleep. Before I really started training, I was not sleeping well and since that time, I have noticed a dramatic difference in the number of hours I am actually sleeping.
8. More energy. Exercise and enough sleep will also lead to more energy. If you are depressed, it is easy to become lethargic throughout the day. During my so called “slump”, I did not want to leave the house or do much else, aside from going to work. This was not who I was so exercising gave me a jump start to snap out of it. After only several weeks, I noticed a drastic increase in my energy levels.
9. Scheduling. The past year I have made time for my workouts. At the beginning of each week, look at your schedule and figure out when you will exercise. It may be that you exercise before work due to family or business obligations. Perhaps working out after dinner is more beneficial to your schedule. The key is to make time for you. If it is written in your calendar, you are more than likely not to skip out.
10. There are some things in life over which you have no control. For me, it was the health news I had received. I asked myself, “If you can’t control this, what can you control?” First and foremost, I could begin to control my nutrition and that’s just what I did. Before I began training with Josh, we sat down and looked at my current nutrition and made some adjustments. It was following the simple guidelines mentioned in Step 4 that allowed me to start seeing results.
11. Once you become comfortable with your new healthy lifestyle, it is easier to maintain. I won’t lie to you; it is really hard to cut out wheat and grains at first. But when you begin to see your body change you will have forgotten that you even missed it. Eventually, you might begin to think of food as fuel rather than just calories ingested. This thought process has helped me a great deal especially when I am craving that wonderful slice of pizza.
12. Indulge every once in a while. No one is perfect. I have been known to enjoy a nice meal out and a glass(es) of wine from time to time. That’s ok. Tell yourself, if you eat relatively well and work hard in the gym throughout the week, it will be acceptable to treat yourself on the weekends. This will keep you from feeling guilty and allow you to enjoy yourself.
Source: Bowen, Josh. 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom. The Recovering Politician. 2014. E-book
I am really proud of those words and after reading them once the Ebook was released, I told myself I needed to start a blog. And by the response I got from my first post (which was so overwhelming), it was the right thing to do. If you enjoyed what I wrote in those 12 steps then you will enjoy the book in its entirety. Fitness can be intimidating to some and it can be hard to get going, so this is the perfect way to get that jump start! It simplifies all of the fitness and health topics in one place. Trust me – its worth your time.
Paperback should be available soon if that is more your style.