How Exercise Has Helped My Anxiety

At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to lose weight that I’ve gained over the past couple of years. Since starting (and finishing!) the 21-Day Fix from Beachbody, I’ve been able to not only shed some pounds, but shed some bad habits as well.

My anxiety stems from emytophobia and agoraphobia. Although no one likes vomiting, I have such an intense fear of it that I avoid certain foods that could make my stomach hurt. I didn’t realize until I was required to fuel my body that I was also afraid of being full. I thought it meant I was sick, and it would scare me. But now that I’m burning calories and gaining muscle, I need to be full more than ever. And, thankfully, I’m learning to eat the right foods, rich in nutrients, so that I could have a satisfied tummy rather than a sick tummy.

Agoraphobia is the fear of being stuck somewhere. I get it when I’m at work, at a party, out with friends, you name it. Wherever I don’t feel in control is where I have anxiety. In an indirect way, working out has helped me to feel more in control. When I do anything out of my comfort zone, I think to myself, “If I can do a 30-minute workout this morning, I can do anything!” When I feel anxiety come on, I remember to breathe and get myself in a healthy mindset.

I’m not paid by Beachbody or anyone to say how I feel about the 21-Day Fix, but if you happen to be Google searching the program and stumble upon this post, my takeaway is that the workouts are awesome. Each week, I could feel and see myself getting stronger, so I knew it was working. However, the recommended nutrition plan didn’t work for me, as it didn’t allow me to eat enough calories. I ate a little extra carbs, and I used MyFitnessPal to keep track of my calories and nutrients. I also don’t plan on doing the Fix again for a couple of months, but most people get results by doing the program several times.

For those of you who want to incorporate exercise into your life in order to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health, here are some ways that have helped me stay on track.

Decide. You can start working out at any time, but no matter when you work out, you need to commit to a program. Whether you do a workout program, go to the gym, or follow a fitness instructor on YouTube, choose a program that works for you. You may think to yourself, “I’ll give it a try, and if I mess up, oh well.” Get that thinking out of your head! During the 21-Day Fix, I kept telling myself, “You can do this. It’s only three weeks.” I didn’t allow myself to quit because I knew that after the 21 days, I would see results, and I would be proud of myself for sticking with it.

Get an accountability partner/group. Over the summer, my friend would help me stay accountable to my running goals. There were days when I didn’t feel like working out, but I knew I had to text her to update her, and I honestly didn’t want to disappoint her! While working out, you’ll need people to encourage you. You also need people to tell you when you’re working yourself too hard and when you should take a break.

Do it first thing in the morning. I do my workout first thing in the morning because: a) I don’t have any excuses first thing in the morning; b) I usually work out on an empty stomach; c) It fuels me for the rest of the day. Set an alarm, roll out of bed, have your workout clothes folded next to your bed, suit up, and get started!

Push yourself, but don’t hurt yourself. I usually make excuses during my workouts because I have a screw in my elbow. Although I push myself beyond what I think I can do, that doesn’t mean I’m invincible! Push-ups are still hard, and using heavy weights can be a burden. If you’re finding yourself wondering when to push yourself, remember why you’re working out in the first place. You may want to lose weight, but the main goal is to take care of yourself.

The # 1 way that exercise has helped my anxiety is that it has changed my thought life. I catch myself thinking negative thoughts about my body, my personality, and my circumstances. That negative thinking is not going to get me the results I want. Instead, I think about what God says about me, and I look to Him to guide me for the rest of the day.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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