Exercise & Mental Wellbeing

So I haven’t had the best week.  Doing my SSS in the gym on Saturday and I must have lost concentration and not engaged my abs as well as I should have because my back spasmed.

My reaction was a combination of fear and anger.  Fear because last time this happened I was out of action for about 3 weeks.  My mind went straight to my job and how I couldn’t afford time off.  Who was I going to inconvenience to help me at home? How on earth was I going to get through this again???

Then the anger kicked in.  What was the point of losing all this weight if this was STILL going to happen? Why do I bother with back strengthening exercises and stretches and core strength?

Anyway, I got home and did all the right things and it came up OK.  As an aside, now I get what others talk about when their backs go.  Coupla days and it’s all good.  They have NO IDEA what it’s like to have a herniated disc/nerve damage.

So while my back has pulled up quite well and the physio gave me the all clear for walking and supported exercises, I struggled on Tues and Wed morning, in part I think due to the cold weather and I didn’t get there of an evening.  And didn’t I have a crap few days because of it!!!  Work is very stressful at the moment and a few things aren’t going well and it really hasn’t done wonders for my mood.  In fact Wed was just plain horrible and I had the shits on all day.

Fast forward to today (Friday) and, thanks to working late last night, I had a blissful day off.  First job:  gym.  While I didn’t do a few exercises I still worked pretty hard and burnt 500 calories for the hour.  Then washed the car, did some housework (including putting the brand new sheets and doona cover on the bed to recognise my 30kgs lost achievement) and did some jobs down the street.  Do I feel better both physically and mentally?  HELL YES!

Since I’ve been working out regularly, coming up to 12 months now, I’ve finally realised what a huge impact it has on my mental health.  Part of it is because I thrive on routine and going to the gym at 6am is part of my routine but also I guess all those good things the experts tell us about (like endorphins).  It really does just set me up for a better day.

A couple of years ago I wasn’t having a good time of it and was suffering depression.  I was doing a weight loss program and had a weekly PT session but my head just wasn’t in it.  My PT knew.  I knew.  I just didn’t know what to do about it.  I did go and see a psychologist for a few months and still turned up to my PT sessions but just couldn’t get my head right.  Not surprisingly I didn’t really follow the eating plan and didn’t work out much either.  I think in some way I was trying to fake it til I made it.

This went on for a couple of years and it was only when I ran into a friend at the supermarket one day that it all changed.  She had been going to the new gym in town and offered to babysit me for a while.  I don’t see her often anymore but think of her regularly and am forever grateful she took me under her wing.  I have a lot to thank her for.

A friend at work commented to me after I’d be back at the gym regularly for a couple of months that she can always tell when I’ve been to the gym before work.  She said I’m brighter and happier and even walk with more energy.  And she’s dead right.

My next step is to start walking outside again.  It’s been a huge psychological block for since I was depressed and just haven’t been able to get around it.  The other weekend I had to walk to work to pick up a car ready for a work trip and even just that short 10min walk reminded me how much I loved walking outside.  Every Sat and Sun morning I would walk at least 10km.  Some restrictions have been due to my back (can’t walk hills) but 99% has been in my head.  I did try and work through it with my psych a while ago and it came down to thinking too much about what people thought about me being outside and exercising.  I’m pretty sure I’m over that now.  I’ve had the all clear from the physio too (though he had to tell me NOT to walk 10km on my first attempt – yep, I would have).

So, exercise = better mental health.  Who would have thought?

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2 Responses to Exercise & Mental Wellbeing

  1. Pingback: Thoughts for the day…. | gary's space

  2. Pingback: Thoughts for the day…

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