Blog
12
09
2018

Mental health gains in one month of CrossFit.

One in five Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. Mental illnesses affects people from all walks of life. The rich and poor. The old and young. The big and small. The people who have everything and the people who have nothing.

CrossFit and it’s methodology has been a tool for people all around the globe to improve their mental health by overcoming challenges in the gym and using the same mentality to help fight off negative thoughts and emotions they experience outside the gym in life.

Our athletes at CBX CrossFit each have their own story, and we’re grateful we get to be a part of them. We know CrossFit is about more than just exercising for exercising sake, and for one of our members Clare, CrossFit is a vital part of maintaining her mental health and well-being.

This is Clare’s story of how she over came crippling anxiety and found her calm at CBX CrossFit.

 

Whenever the new year rolls around, we all start hearing the “new year new me” talk. Like the person we have always been isn’t someone we want to be anymore. And we hear that the start of the year is the only time for the start of change. We set these goals like “lose weight, quit eating junk food, don’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes”. Be someone new and “lose, quit and don’t”.

I had been there myself too many times.
Yeah I’d been to gym. Well; I’d half assed a jog on a treadmill for 7 out of the 10 minutes that were written down on my plan sheet and I’d bounced between confusing machinery that I didn’t understand anything about, in a room hidden away from the general population, at a time of night I hoped no one else would be there to see me. And yeah, I’d changed my eating habits; like I’d starve for majority of the day and replace meals with shakes and count the calories I wanted and halved the ones I shouldn’t have eaten.

Still repeating to myself, lose, quit and don’t.

It’s like – You know how when you start a diet on Monday; but by Wednesday you’ve eaten one Tim tam so you figure that your whole meal plan is out the window so you may as well eat your bodyweight in cheese and chocolate until the following Monday when you can start again? Yeah well, I’d do that with ‘new year new me’. I’d fumble around in the dieting scene for the first couple of months of the year and convince myself that doing a home workout I’d googled and skipped half the exercises of was a fitness regime. And sometimes I would even lose the weight. But that’s as far as I got. And that didn’t make me happier. That didn’t make me better. And it didn’t make me new. 

I’ve always struggled with mental health issues. Feeling constantly anxious, overwhelmed, irritated and unable to relax or enjoy anything. And like many people who do suffer; the cold and miserable winter time is the G spot for falling into depression. Winter was my Tim Tam on a Wednesday. I’d live out the middle 7 months of the year in darkness. “I’ll try again next year”. Like that was an excuse to waste more than half of the 365 days I had.
I’d fall back into bad habits of eating junk food and smoking, into anxiety controlled days. Nights not filled with hours of sleep but with hours of mind-draining thoughts and irrelevant “what if” questions. Sometimes I’d “what if I don’t wake up tomorrow” and sometimes – I was okay with that.

I got tired of losing. And I got tired of quitting.

We all turn to google to answer questions we have. Whether it’s a medical diagnosis or the name of the actor who was the blonde guys sister’s wife’s daughter in that movie with the fish.

I had a question for google.

“What can I do to make myself happy again? How can I eat the fucking Tim Tam and not ruin the rest of week? (Okay, it’s an overused analogy now – but you get the point)”.

Google gave me over 76,000 results for this. Over 184,000 write-ins from people all around the world with tips and tricks to finding happiness. I read. And I read. And there were some great stories out there. Stories that were inspiring. But none of those stories were mine.
What does make ME happy? My kids do. My friends do. My partner does. And I have all of them. So why aren’t I? 

What I didn’t have was a me that made me happy. What would I change about myself? Firstly it had to be my negative mindset;  I had to refurbish it into a more positive one. 

I’d like to lose weight – But I’d love to gain confidence more. I’d love to quit junk food and smoking;- But I’d love to obtain a healthy body more. I’d love to stop being miserable – but I’d love to maintain happiness most.

Okay, so you probably read the title of this piece and have been wondering ‘okay so what the hell does CrossFit have to do with any of this?’ Well it has everything to do with it.

Originally yeah, losing weight was what got me dabbling in it, but with a negative mindset, poor motivation and crippling anxiety, I only ever dipped my toes in before deciding I was out of my depth.
That was until I decided I wanted to gain. And in only 4 short weeks that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. 

“You can’t pour tea from an empty cup” is my recipe base quote for the happiness dish I’ve decided to cook up. Although I have everything in my life that should be making me happy; I can’t be happy with any of it if i myself am empty.

I decided to go CrossFit. Lots of girls I knew were doing it and were loving it. I’d been before. I’d joined in and felt fat and unfit before. I’d felt I’d failed before. But I’d never just been proud of myself for turning up and giving it all I had before. If even just getting through those doors was all I achieved my first session, I WAS going to be proud of myself. And to my surprise, everyone was proud of that too. 

I’m not in there to be better than anyone other than the person I was before.

The improvements to my fitness in this first month have been great. The improvements to my overall happiness and mental well being are phenomenal.

There’s so much ‘gains’ talk around the gym scene these days. But I’ve gained more than muscle at CrossFit. I’ve gained confidence. I’ve gained the feeling of success, I’ve gained friendship and I’m regaining myself. 

The old me would get on the scales daily,  just hoping weight would drop or I’d eat less and hope that would make my tummy flatter. Now, I just feel happy. During today’s WOD I honestly thought I was going to cry once I had finished. Not because of how exhausted I was, but because I’d spent the morning from 4am saying I was too sad to go workout and that I needed the day to just relax and recoup. I dragged my ass to class and when I finished the workout I felt so good, I could feel the happiness beaming. I was SO proud!

I get it now, I understand why people love it. As I learn all the CrossFit “lingo” and get better at all the movements I can feel myself becoming addicted to constant and never ending self improvement. I don’t have to google how to be happy anymore. If I get lost I know where to start again.

Has my life been magically wiped of all woes and hardship in the 4 weeks of starting CrossFit? Definitely not. I have learnt something much more valuable and life changing; In order to change yourself, first you must change your thoughts. Stop worrying about the exterior parts of you that you so desperately want to alter. It’s not about how good you look, it’s about how good you feel. And once you’re feeling good, the rest follows. If I can give advice to someone who has never given Crossfit a go, I promise you it is not scary. Never turn up worrying about being better than anyone else; you’re going to be better than the someone you were yesterday and that is the only person we should want to be better than.

 

We believe that CrossFit offers more than just a place to burn unwanted calories. Studies around the world have concluded that to prevent, cure and manage mental illnesses effectively you need: Social interaction, meaningful activity, exercise, good nutrition, sleep and sunlight. All of which CrossFit promotes. Improving peoples health and fitness is a major focus for us, yes. But our priority is making better people from the inside out.