National Fitness Day – How a lifestyle change has changed me

Low body confidence is an issue which affects all of us from time to time, irrespective of age and gender. It is recognised as a significant social and public health problem in the UK and throughout much of the rest of the world. Statistics show that 60% of adults say that they feel ashamed of the way they look. This feeling of shame often leads to engaging in less social interaction, leading to isolation, and in turn poor mental health.
Research indicates that exercise can help to improve body image. People who exercise and workout regularly are more likely to feel self-confident than those who are largely inactive. Body image is a strong component of self-esteem – and taking part in an activity that you enjoy, and that you gain a sense of accomplishment from, will help to build your self-esteem. Other benefits gained from exercise include overall better mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression. Exercise also releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness through euphoria.
After constantly shunning suggestions to become more active to improve my mood (I’m rubbish to a fault at taking advice), I decided at that start of this year that I wanted to put an end to the constant agony of suffering from low self-esteem and negative body image. I set my sights on losing weight, and toning up. That would fix all my problems, wouldn’t it? If I looked good (or as good as I could) I would feel good??
I didn’t realise how much my choices were going to change the inside.
From doing absolutely no exercise at all, I’ve progressed from one class in May, to two, and now four a week, and an hour with a personal trainer (which is the biggest shocker). I’m not even that conscious of the changes on the outside, (I’m not monitoring anything. If I’m eating right, and exercising often, I’m improving my body). But my now loose clothes and need to buy more suggest I’ve dropped at least a dress size, and I can feel definition in my arms and legs, and I’ve felt pain from using muscles I never knew I had. I’m wide awake very early every morning, and I actually think I need something to suppress my energy now rather than boost it.
From being a complete gymophobe, (and throw in the NOW non existent extreme shyness and social anxiety), I can’t imagine life any differently.
My message to anyone suffering low self-esteem is if you want to change something about yourself, do it. If it’s your hair you don’t like, try a new haircut. If you’re unhappy about your weight, look into changing your diet or maybe joining an exercise class. If you’re worried you have no one to go with, go on your own. You’ll see familiar faces each week or make friends. Life is too short for hang ups. I’m only sorry it’s taken me to the grand old age of 37 to realise this, but I now recognise the importance to stress it to my children.
The sooner you start making the changes, the sooner you will start to feel better about yourself.

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