Exercise, Healthy Eating and Mental Health

As an overweight woman who likes to eat, play video games, sleep and enjoys general laziness I never really saw the appeal of diet and exercise. Of course I wanted to lose weight and be able to walk 10 steps without almost dying but smoking and eating a lot was definitely more my kind of thing…

It all started just over a month ago, oneof our friends was taken ill and subsequently diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. Although I know that it is near on impossible for us to have Type One it is not impossible for us to develop Type Two due to our diet and habits.

My girlfriend’s dad was trying to get us to join the gym for a while and we felt too big and embarrassed to go with him. When you suffer with Mental Health Issues it is difficult to do most things, such as even leave the house, let alone enter an establishment where the general misconception is that the people who frequent them are self-obsessed and critical of people who do not fit their mould.

After our friends diagnosis, we decided that we could no longer let our fear of being judged get in the way of our health. We bit the bullet and joined our local gym. Although our first session there was incredibly daunting and considering that we did not want to go, it was amazing. Everyone there, bar a few, do not fit the general stereotype and are very welcoming.

We have balanced our diet and have been attending the gym about 5 times a week and it is having the most incredible impact! I have cut out energy drinks completely (from having 3 x 500ml cans a day) and have limited my self to 1 or 2 coffees per day. We have been eating breakfast most days and ensuring that we have a calorie deficit.

I have been told quite a lot that caffeine induces anxiety and as much as it made sense, I always used to bury my head in the sand and thought that my mental stability depended on have shit loads of caffeine every day. How wrong I was. Cutting out caffeine has reduced my anxiety levels and made any anxiety spells much more manageable; I would definitely recommend those who are struggling with anxiety and consume a lot of caffeine to reduce your intake because it will 100% benefit you and make your day to day life a lot more bearable.

I have heard a lot that people find diet and exercise beneficial for their mental health and now I definitely agree with that too. Going to the gym after a long day at work makes me feel so good about myself and we have seen an improvement within our own self-confidence which has had a positive impact on every area of our life. Working out also gives me a positive outlet for all of my emotions and offer a new way to let off steam without crying all of the time.

As well, I know that some people may resonate with this, when I am struggling with my mental health I tend to neglect myself in both hygiene and self-respect. Going to the gym has made me take care of my personal hygiene more so than I have been because it’s a necessity when you are sweating more than you’re used to. In terms of self-respect I have gained so much confidence in my abilities because my body is way more capable than I ever could have imagined!

As a larger lady with mental health issues, I would definitely recommend anyone in the same boat to do more exercise and watch what you are putting in to your body especially if you are not keen on the idea of being prescribed medication for your mental health. Nothing is better than a natural coping mechanism.

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