Sunday 29 July 2012

The Natural Free Antidepressant

We all have the most natural powerful antidepressant within us and EXERCISE can activate it.  It is that simple and you don’t have to be an athlete or look like a model to enjoy it.

At 22 I was definitely a couch potato, I had never liked sport at school and the only exercise I did was run if the bus was coming and I wasn’t at the bus stop. I was over 2 stone heavier than I am now and feeling very unhealthy.  This was in the 80’s long before gyms became common place.  At that time the odd gym was mainly for body builders.  Fortunately a very forward thinking man called Jim Jarman decided to open a ladies only gym.  I had heard about it but thought I’m not exposing myself in a leotard (in the 80’s it was all leotards and leggings, no one seemed to wear baggy t shirts, everything was exposed!).  Luckily a friend suggested we went together and that was a turning point in my life.  I loved the gym straight away.

My illusion that everyone would look amazing and I would be the only fat one there was shattered and was thrilled to find out that everyone was ‘normal’, just people like me wanting to look and feel better.

A big plus for me was that it wasn’t actually aerobic exercise.   It was focused on weight training.  We would warm up with 3 minutes on the exercise bike then go round the weight machines 3 times, with a 3 minute stint back on the exercise bike after each round.  So all in all we did 12 minutes on the exercise bike. The weights were built up gradually so it wasn’t too overwhelming for someone like me who was SO unfit.  It actually felt really good to build strength into my body and within a few weeks I noticed that my body looked and felt better. 

The other plus, which was my main motivation for going to the gym for years, was how I felt when I left.  I could turn up feeling fed up, sad, depressed, wanting to eat, eat, eat and I would leave feeling totally different, like something had changed in my head.  I would literally go home a different person, feeling lifted, motivated, and happy. This has also been noted by both my husbands over the years as both would suggest I went to the gym if I appeared out of sorts, grumpy or a bit off.  It was a life line to me for years before I learned about doing inner work on myself and how to deal with stress and life.  I have always said that I exercised for my head/mind as much, if not more, than for my body.  The body improving was a positive side effect of working on my head/mind that way. 

So as much as I don’t need to run for the bus now, thankfully I have a car, I love the feeling of being able to do a little sprint whenever I fancy.  If it’s raining when I go shopping, I will run from my car to the supermarket and it feels GOOD.  It makes me feel healthy and alive, like a horse galloping in the field, just for the fun of it.  Dogs get excited when they see you getting their lead.  It is a natural pleasure life has given us, EXERCISE.  And please note I have never done high impact aerobics, for me moderate regular exercise worked just as well.

So you don’t have to join a gym, there are so many things you can do for free, walking being the easiest and most readily available.  I actually have a mini trampoline now that I use.  The music goes on and I will bounce away, waving my arms about for 15-30 minutes, I then follow with some yoga as I find that the stretching is more important than weight training for me as I have got older.

But if you do fancy a gym, dare to try it.  They are full or ordinary people just like you, who want to feel and look better.  No one really takes any notice of what you look like, it is a very positive experience and far better than any ANTI DEPRESSANT and the only side affect is you look and feel better.

I thank Jim Jarman, for changing my world all those years ago.

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