I think to think I’ve tried most methods to maintain, if not improve, my mental health. Medication – check. Therapy – been there. Meditation – tried that.
For a while, I was a fucking hippy, trying to see what soothing effect it might have.
The one thing I could never, ever stand was people telling me that they felt relief with exercise and healthy eating…
I follow a lot of gym bunnies on Instagram, and some of my friends are in the fitness and health field. My timelines are forever loaded with the irritating, motivational ‘fitspo’ pictures and guides.
‘How the fuck can that make you feel good? Genuinely?’
I hated hearing about how people enjoyed exercise, how it helped their stress levels and how their outlook on life was improved by working out and treating their body right. I rubbished it as a lie in order to rope in some more poor bastards to their gym classes, or to pay for expensive diet regimes.
It felt patronising, if I’m honest. Someone telling me, a person with a diagnosed condition, that sit-ups and lettuce could help. I felt like they were almost implying that my brain could be rewired if I ate more Omega 3, or avoided oven chips.
It wasn’t until last month, when I had a ‘shakey moment’, that I decided to cave to the hype. I made a deal with myself that I’d set up an experiment, for a short period of time, to see if working out more and eating better had any effect on my bipolar. I ordered a new recipe book, dug out my dad’s WonderCore and gave myself two months to feel an improvement.
I started planning meals, subscribed to yoga tutorials and drew up my own work-out routine with exercise that I might actually enjoy. For added pressure, I told all my friends about my plan so that they would spot when I was being lazy or eating shit.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still giving myself treats – everything in moderation, they say.
The focus wasn’t on weight loss or physical improvements, but I welcomed the possibility of getting more fit and toning up my ever-growing arse. As previously disclosed, I’ve dealt with eating phobias when I was younger, so it was important to me not to get caught up in the wrong goals.
And so it begun. I was one of those people.
It’s been a week now.
I work out 4 times a week, at home, and use the Lean In 15 cook book to make up my packed lunches and dinners.
I hate myself for saying this – but I can feel things changing already.
Let’s be clear, I won’t be posting any ‘progress pics’ of my pale boy-ish body. That’s not what I’m doing this for. But I do feel my shape changing.
With hillwalking, my legs have become more toned and the yoga has helped my core. I work myself into a sweat for 1 hour and then I stop – making sure not to overdo it. My biggest surprise has been how much I enjoy my new meals, I eat so much more fruit and vegetables – despite previously eating quite a lot. My meals taste healthy and light, but I’m rarely able to finish them because they’re so filling!
It feels good to have my workmates comment on how tasty my lunches look now, as opposed to jokingly rolling their eyes at yet another box of doughnuts.
As for my mind? The progress is coming, but it’s much slower.
I try and power-walk 3 miles a night, luckily I live in quite a safe and scenic area so it doesn’t feel like a chore. After my first walk, I felt great. I felt like I’d actually found something I could stick to and incorporate into my strict routine. Working out definitely helps to relieve any stress, but mostly it serves as a distraction.
Living alone, I find I get too wrapped up in my own thoughts when I don’t have company, so this was helpful.
Although it only been a week, I’m optimistic about the changes to come. I’ve become one of those people that I once hated, but I was probably jealous of their will-power.
Anyway, that’s the first week done. Stay tuned to see how I get on!
So far, so great.