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Mental Health and Exercise.

People don't talk about it enough. Mental health. It's as if it's a bad word or words. Anxiety. Depression. They are REAL. And so many people suffer from each of these.

It is also frustrating to those that have dealt with depression or anxiety, because if others have not, they really don't understand as to why you can't just 'snap out of it'. Believe me, if I could have snapped out of my depression and anxiety, I would have!!!

But let me tell you, exercise definitely helped me recover (as well as professionals help!) 

Today, exercise is what keeps me feeling upbeat, happy and less anxious. 

How does exercise relieve depression? For many years, experts have known that exercise enhances the action of endorphins, chemicals that circulate throughout the body. Endorphins improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They may also serve to improve mood. Another theory is that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.
Besides lifting your mood, regular exercise offers other health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease and cancer, and boosting self-esteem. How often or intensely you need to exercise to alleviate depression is not clear, but for general health, experts advise getting half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, on all or most days of the week. 
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I encourage everyone to add fitness into their daily life. It will improve your entire life! 


My Why.

I have always been involved in sports growing up, specifically basketball, volleyball and swimming. During the off season, I would feel the need to go for runs to stay in shape or ask my mom to go to the gym (although I had no idea what I was really doing). I felt a need to be active. I never understood it, until now. During the long summer days, if I had nothing planned, I sometimes would be very lazy and watch TV for hours. The way I felt after those lazy days was not good. I realize now those feelings were that of anxiousness and depression. I felt lethargic - and often times - the lethargy would not go away for a long time. I could sleep for hours and still never feel rested. I would try to go for a jog around the block and just felt unmotivated because of all the days of no activity.

Summer would end and school begin. School brought a schedule and sports again! That anxious and depressive feeling would subside, for an amount of time.

Fast forward - college. I made it a part of my schedule to go to the gym everyday. I found relief from the stresses of college and it was my outlet. 

Fast forward again - junior year of college. I quit going to the gym. Instead, I worked 3 jobs and went to school full time. I had no time for the gym, for sleep, for anything that was good for me. Soon, anxiety and depression took over me. By senior year I was a complete mess. Some days I would lay in bed all day, some days maybe not eat. Others I literally cannot describe the feelings I would have. Anxiety is a twisted and messed up thing to deal with. I wouldn't be able to move or breathe, especially during times of stress.

During this time of my life, I lost a lot of weight (yay right?!) and everyone complimented me on how good I looked. But deep down, they had no idea how bad I felt. I was happy how I looked too, because I had wanted to be that small for years! I remember the day I was walking to class and a pair of jeans that used to be tight to even get into were falling off of me. That's when I realized I needed help. My mother (God bless her forever) and some help from professionals, helped me quite a bit. But, let's fast forward again.

I graduated. I did it! But what now? Thankfully, the gym I worked part time at needed some help in another department. And so, I became full time - a blessing for me that I will never forget. At that time, a new program was starting at the gym. This program was a small group training program. I wanted to work out with a group of people, it was like being on a sports team again. Having a 'coach' aka trainer to guide you through the workout and about 10 people to work out with was like high school try out workouts all over again. Now, at this time, I still struggled with depression and anxiety for sure. Not as bad as in the past, but it still came up every now and then. However, I realized that the more and more I went to the gym, with a structured plan or a trainer to yell at me (hahah), the more my anxiety and depression subsided. My confidence rose and low self esteem left. 

I had never felt so good. Physically strong, but more importantly, mentally strong.

It is still a journey everyday. As we all know, life is absolutely crazy. You never know what is going to come at you.

That is why, I train for life. For a rollercoaster of life. Emotional, physically exhausting, insane life. 

I promise you, that finding a way to incorporate fitness into your life, in whatever way that may be, it will surely make an impact in other areas that you did not expect. It did for me.