Weight Training: My Mental Health Saviour

I very clearly remember the feeling I had the first time I stepped into the weights section at my tiny little local gym. As James Smith mentioned in a podcast I listened to recently, it really felt like I was trespassing into the ‘men’s area’ – crossing some invisible yet unbreakable boundary.

I was fucking scared. But after many attempts and failures to ‘get into’ fitness, there was something different this time.

A powerful mix of determination and desperation gave me that push I needed. The push to break through the invisible line of what’s ‘expected’ of a woman, and to do this for myself.

I’d read a lot about the benefits of weightlifting and, for someone who has always had a terrible relationship with cardio (i.e. I fucking hate it), it definitely appealed. And from that first session back in 2016, I was hooked.

I have battled with my mental health from a really young age. I have tried a LOT of things; CBT, hypnotherapy, counselling, mindfulness, medication. Some have worked better than others. But nothing comes close to the feeling that lifting gives me.

Because here’s the thing; weight training is about so much more than lifting a weight.

Lifting taught me to love and care about myself; my mind and my body. It taught me to research nutrition to get the most out of my training, it taught me to improve my sleep hygiene and it taught me that truly enjoying what you’re doing is way more healthy than forcing yourself to conform to some stupid mould society wants you to fit into.

Weight lifting is about getting strong, celebrating what your body can do and making steady progress, not just about ‘burning as many calories as possible’.

It builds your mental strength alongside the physical.

Weight training has changed my perspective in so many ways. It has helped me learn to treat my body and mind with respect, and every weight I lift fills me with a sense of power and strength and in that moment, I really feel like I could overcome anything.

Hell, I CAN overcome anything.

Lifting has helped me through the toughest times in my life. The day after my Dad died, I went to the gym. Maybe that seems odd but to me, it made perfect sense. Because this was the place I came to for my strength.

And let me tell you, there is NOTHING like beating your deadlift PB. Absolutely no feeling in the world like it.

Weight training has changed my life for the better, which is why I’m here, four years on from creeping into the ‘men’s section’ like a deer in the headlights, still lifting, still improving and still thriving.

**(This blog post was very much inspired by episode 18 of The James Smith Podcast – Training vs Exercising. Would highly recommend giving it a listen).

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