how to start over with fitness

How to start over with fitness— and why it matters

Time for a truth bomb. My fitness game has fallen off the face of the planet the past few months.

Is anyone else going through that? Maybe you started the New Year off strong and over the past several months you’ve fallen off the bandwagon.

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I plan to start FRESH in the new year. I really enjoyed being in shape. My depression was more under control and I was happy with how I looked.

Not that how you look is necessarily something to fixate over. But I truly believe that getting to that happy place is so good for your mental health. You have to love YOU.

It can be hard to give ourselves a little acceptance and recognize when we need to start fresh. That sort of realization involves a lot of humility. I gave up. I didn’t stick to my goal. It’s time to change.

How to start over with fitness
The selected Optin Cat form doesn’t exist.

Why is fitness important for physical health?

Fair warning– I get a lot of flack for this in the mental health community sometimes. This post is going to be full of a bit of touchy little tender bits that might make you want to hide in a blanket fort.

But here are some facts about the benefits of exercise:

Exercise helps you control your weight. 

Yes, it’s true that often the number on the scale should not necessarily control your identity, and value, and self-worth. BUT… there are health risks with being both under and over weight. And when we are not physically well, it is difficult to be mentally well.

Also, it reduces your risk of heart diseases, issues with blood pressure, and issues with circulation.

It improves your mental health and mood. 

Exercise releases neurotransmitters that help you manage stress, depression, and anxiety. I will discuss this more in depth in a bit!

Bonus: Exercise helps keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. According to the article I linked: “Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain.” So, it doesn’t just help the happy centers of your brain. It helps the whole dang thing.

Other benefits

Improves your sleep. Lots of us mental health issue babes are not sleeping very well. We either struggle to fall asleep, wake up a lot at night, or find that our sleep is not restful. Regular exercise is proven to help that!

Improves your sexual health. I mean… we’re depressed and take antidepressants. We often need help here!

Increases your chances of living longer. Once you get emotionally stable and make the decision to say YES to life, you need to take that seriously. One of the most profound realizations we can have on this mental health journey is that life is both incredibly short, and incredibly precious. We need to treat ourselves well so that we can make the most of it.

(Read the above article for more in depth info.)

How to start over with fitness

Why is fitness important for mental health?

As I said before, this tends to be an unpopular opinion. Rather than start with a personal rant about my thoughts and feels, I decided to offer the facts that science gives us first (see above).

We’ve already shown all the ways in which exercise can benefit us physically. So, why is this so important for our mental health?

Our minds and bodies are so inextricably linked, like I posted about earlier this week. Our heart is connected to our limbs which are connected to our brain which is connected to our smile which is connected to our gut.

It is all a part of us and it all matters.

Hopefully you are reading this because you decided to say YES to getting better. (That’s a whole other unpopular opinion post topic, right there.) I said yes in 2019, and I wanted to share what that process looked like for me.

Saying YES to getting stable

Many of us reach a point where we are fed up with how we feel. We are at our wits’ end with the way depression makes us feel. The way it affects our job. Our relationships. Our sex life.

So, earlier this year, I decided enough was enough. I was GOING to get well. I WILL get well.

Once you make this commitment, there are a few things you need to realize:

  • You will never (at least not at this point in society/technology) cure your mental health issue.
  • Well simply means stable.
  • There is nothing that can make you better except you. You have to decide to resume therapy or take your meds or end toxic relationships.
  • That being said, it is no one else’s responsibility to make you better.
  • If you do not take action, you will never get better. Depression is not like just some random fluke in your brain that might go away if you give it time. It is a biological condition that takes treatment just like other physical illnesses.
  • You matter. Taking care of your body matters. Feed it good things. Try to get some daily activity. This is not a subjective recommendation. This is what science objectively tells us is important.

It is hard to get well. I hear that a lot. How can I exercise when I can’t even get out of bed? It’s impossible.

I’m not religious. Just obsessed with It’s Always Sunny gifs

I understand that it is hard. No one is saying it’s easy. It takes a daily commitment to wake up and speak life into your day. To set that reminder on your phone.

Physical activity is a pretty non-negotiable part of mental health. Let that marinate for a bit.

How to start over with fitness

There are a lot of things you can do when you want to get started again with exercise. If you have found that your regimen has not been working, here are some possible tweaks you can make.

  1. Switch the time of day you exercise. Maybe your body’s energy naturally peaks at a certain time and you will have more motivation then.
  2. Drink a LOT of water. This is just sound advice anyway. I fucking love drinking pop, but there are literally no health benefits there.
  3. Set a SMART goal. Decide what you want to achieve and when.
  4. Find a physical activity you genuinely enjoy doing. That can make all the difference. Learning to enjoy movement again is so important.
  5. Ask a friend to help you stay accountable. They can be nice about it. Or a little mean! It’s up to you. Some people are more motivated by tough love.

Things I’m obsessed with

Here is a quick list of things that I love that will help your workout routine, and also make it more enjoyable.

Get moving

Hopefully this post inspired you to use the impending new year (and decade!) as a reason to start over with fitness.  I know I plan to give it my all.

Remember: It’s hard.  After all, you are a legitimately sick person with a true illness. Nothing can change that.

But you can change the way you allow your brain to limit you.  I am not bipolar. I live with bipolar disorder. Language matters. Don’t tell yourself that you are too depressed to exercise. Give yourself a little more love than that!

You can do it. Just get moving.

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Do you struggle with fitness due to your mental health issues? Are you looking to start fresh? I totally believe in you!


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130 thoughts on “How to start over with fitness— and why it matters”

  1. i recently started over with running! i have been a runner for a LONG time (i started running track at 14!) but having 4 kids, nursing, etc. fitness took a back seat. now i’m back at it and i forgot how amazing it makes me feel!

    1. Hey Amanda, that’s great! I was an avid runner for several years but fell off the bandwagon for the same reason. After this baby (the last one!!) I am determined to get back into it. Good luck with it, and thanks for reading!

  2. I had surgery on my hip in May. Overall, I’ve done pretty well but I still need to work on a few things. One of those things is finding the time to exercise more. Exercise and getting outdoors helps my mental health, especially when Covid has forced me to stay home more.

  3. Kristine Nicole Alessandra

    I bought myself a weighted hula hoop last month. I used it for a week but then I stopped. I wasn’t feeling well at all lately and I think it is just the lack of exercise. Thanks for motivating me to start moving again.

    1. Hey Catalina, I think a lot of people would be grateful for a fresh start in anything just about now. So you are not alone. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Kita, it’s okay. Start small. Depending on the weather by you, go for a 10 minute walk a few days a week. I really think it’s better than nothing! Thanks for reading!

  4. those are great tips. i really need to get back into working out. thanks for making me think about getting back into it.

  5. I need to start getting back in to doing more fitness. I was doing so well and then I kinda quit working out. Hopefully I can get my motivation back so I can start working out again.

    1. Hey Kathy, you can do it! It’s been a weird year, and a lot of people’s energy is all off. I believe in you! Thanks for reading 🙂

    1. Hey Gervin, you got this!! Just start slow. Heck even 10-15 minutes a day. That at least signals to your brain that it’s a thing you do daily and you can build up from there. Thanks for reading!

  6. I really need to get up and get moving more. My blood pressure is out of control still and the biggest thing I haven’t done all summer (that I normally do) is a physical activity like walking or hiking. It’s easy to slink into this odd state of mind when you work 100% from home and homeschool, but I loved reading this because I do need to start over with fitness! It’s important for mental health, stress relief, and weight loss.

    1. Hey Brandy, it is a weird time mentally. We’re doing e-learning for our kindergartener, which in our case is like 40% homeschooling/”working on their own which requires my help.” So I get it. Things are mixed up right now. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Samantha, absolutely. In my case, I can run in place while watching one more episode of Forensic Files LOL. Thanks for reading!

  7. It is amazing how exercise can help it’s not a cure all by a long way but it definitely helps you destress and unwind a little. I miss just being able to go and pound the pavements when I’m feeling anxious.

    1. Hey Sarah, same! It’s been too hot and I’m just too worn out this pregnancy. Hopefully you can get back to it soon. Thanks for reading!

  8. I feel so much better physically AND mentally since I started living a fitter life. I eat good food and work out daily, and everything just feels better.

  9. I’ve fallen off the wagon when it comes to daily exercising. I was doing really well, but then it got up to 100 degrees and it was just too hot to walk. Hoping to start again this month!

    1. Hey Lisa, as long as you are doing what you can! For many people that is a heck of a lot. Keep it up, and thanks for reading!

  10. The importance of fitness and staying active cannot be overstated. I’ve been taking long walks and practicing yoga since the pandemic began. Walks in the morning get you up and going. Yoga late in the afternoon is now a ritual for me. And no question that fitness and exercise helps with mental well-being. Thanks as always for the insight and post,

    1. Hey Abby, I totally hear ya. I’m pregnant with #3 now and have 2 little ones already, and the struggle is real! Hang in there, and thanks for reading!

  11. The key to fitness is consistency, BUT sometimes that can be difficult. Life can get in the way and before you know it you’ve fallen off the wagon.
    You can choose two options; accept your fate and forget about it. OR pick yourself up and start again.
    You’ve listed some really good tips for the latter option.

  12. Okay, I totally needed to read this right now. I’m been using too many excuses NOT to exercise: I don’t feel well. I’m tired. I’m too depressed. I’m in pain. Blah blah blah. But you’re right. I’ve heard SO many good things about exercise benefiting mental health that I literally need to get my rear in gear so I can be more stable and healthy. Thank you for this boost and reminder that this is something that may be annoying to do, but it’s totally worth it in the long run, for my mind AND body!!

    Also, I literally laughed out loud at what you wrote: “Improves your sexual health. I mean… we’re depressed and take antidepressants. We often need help here!” Preach, sister!!! 😀

    Emily | http://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

  13. Finding a physical activity you enjoy is so important! I was made feel like I was lazy all throughout my childhood and teenage years, but really, I just suck at sports and running! When I found boxing and weights, and other forms of physical activity I like I got very active! I always feel like I shouldn’t talk about how being fit helped my mental health so much for the exact reasons you mentioned. It didn’t cure it, but a healthier lifestyle as well as therapy were the two things that got my depression and anxiety down to liveable level!

  14. Maintaining a physical exercise routine is usually not a problem for me but it’s the food that’s weighing me down, literally!
    When I am fighting fit I smile more and socialize more. It has such a huge impact on my mental health.
    I enjoyed this post. xx

    1. Thanks! Yes, food can often be a huge factor in mental health. I actually have an upcoming post about that. Thanks for reading!

  15. Really enjoyed this post, as I’ve been really struggling with my fitness too. I really need to get into a routine. Thanks for sharing this!

  16. Very sound advice. I’ve really been struggling with my mental health lately and not working out like I should. Thank you for the gentle push.

  17. Thanks so much for sharing this! I have definitely fallen off the wagon with my fitness and I really need to get back on it. This gives me the motivation I need for sure!

  18. I totally agree fitness helps support a healthy mental outlook. The endorphins exercise releases can’t be ignored! I workout 5 days a week and it definitely helps me manage stress and my attitude. Nice post!

  19. This post has come at the right time! I am wanting to start up my clean eating and exercise routine again! I definitely not only was slimmer and healthier, but my mental health was so much better! I felt focused and motivated! Thank you for sharing this motivating post xx

  20. This is an amazing post. I really enjoyed reading it. I have a gym membership, and I have gone a handful of times, but I keep making the excuse that I feel bad leaving my toddler in the kids’ area. I need to get over that because I know I need to go more often for my mental health. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement.

    1. Thanks for reading! When i was going regularly, my kids loved going to the kids area, so that helps, knowing they’re having fun

  21. Exercising does help me sleep better, so I always do it toward the end of the day. The first few days after a break are hard, but it gets easier once it eases into a flow.

  22. For me, January is an easy month to get back into fitness, as the weather here is finally starting to clear up (not at all like the northern hemisphere!).
    So, now it’s early morning walks (before the days get too hot).

    1. Here I have the opposite problem. Lol. (Chicago area) that’s great that you are finding it easier to get back out there and get it done!

  23. I completely agree that mental and physical health are completely linked. Although exercise may not solve all problems, it does provide an opportunity to release pent up stress and promote positive feelings.

    I’ve def fallen off the fitness wagon in2019, but I’m hopefully that 2020 will be the year that I make positive changes that I will stick to!

    1. Same! I was HARD into it in 2019 until like June. I need to get the momentum going. Thanks for reading! Happy new year!

  24. I’m inspired! I’m fairly active already but I certainly can be smarter about exercise. Thank you sincerely for the advance and all the great points.

  25. Wow, yes I do struggle because of my mental health! I don’t know why, but I thought it was just me. I’ve let my mental health get in the way for almost a year and I’m seriously ready to get moving again.

  26. I’ve definitely fallen off the wagon. I was doing so well getting in at least 30 minutes of physical activity. I’m working on getting active again in January and just doing a general detox for my body.

  27. I’ve started walking again recently and I love it. I forgot how much I loved it, and not for the weight loss aspect, but for the fact that I’m out and lost in my own head. It can be a bad thing, but mostly it’s therapeutic.

    Very helpful post! I hope you had a lovely holiday season!

    1. That’s great! 1/1 I swear. Starting over 🤣 this month has been HARD but I know it will help.

      I totally get the being lost in your own head. I’m a massive introvert and often I feel safest there, even though, like you said, it can be a not very nice place.

  28. It literally feels like you’re in my head. I have always been into fitness and health, but this year being a full time teacher, starting a new business and blog and still juggling being a wife and mother, threw me completely off. Thanks for the tips. I especially like the suggestion of working oir at a new time of day. It might be enough confusion to get me back in a solid routine.

  29. Great post my favourite part was, “Life is both incredibly short, and incredibly precious.” That Really resonated with me since it is so true. Getting the endorphins going is a fantastic way to help in feeling great! 😁🌴

  30. This is such a great post; definitely agree with you that sticking to a fitness routine is important for you and can help you in so many ways. I am hoping to start a fitness routine come the new year and this has just motivated me to get it started even more. Thank you for this great post!xoxo

  31. You are so so right. Sticking with a fitness regime is so important for your health, and especially when you suffer from depression (hello!). I’ve been pretty good at sticking to a gym routine, but only for my physical therapy exercises, not necessary for my overall health (I’ll do only my prescribed routine and then leave). I feel very inspired by your post to reevaluate my fitness routine. Thanks!

  32. The best way for me to start over is to set a new goal to reach. It saves me from boredom and keeps me motivated. There’s some really great tips in here. Cheers to the new year!

  33. Love this. We all KNOW that exercising is good for us, but it’s so freaking hard to stick with something that we perceive is hard! But it truly doesn’t have to be! My New Years resolution for next year is to work out at least 3x/week, even if it’s 15min at a time. I’ve kept every one of my last 3 resolutions, so I know I can do this as well. I found a couple apps I love, so it’s really simple to work out in my living room. No excuses! We got this!

    1. Yeah it should be a tool for feeling good, losing weight if a doctor says you are running into health issues I guess. But mainly to feel better!

  34. I totally agree that trying to stay fit can help with health issues. I have physical disabilities and cannot do much in the way of exercise., but I can still try to be active in whatever way I’m able. I can also try to eat and drink healthily. It does make a difference to how I feel about myself.

    1. That’s great! Just start from where you are! Not many people just get up and run a marathon out of the gate. Baby steps are so important

  35. I am obese with hypertension and was soon to be diagnosed with diabetes. Usually when the Dr tells you to make lifestyle changes you just blow it off. But when you are taking between 7-12 tablets daily to keep you stable… Yea, you got problems. At some point you have to stop ignoring your body.

    Yes, its effort. Yes, it hurts. I went from not being able to do push ups from the knees to being able to hold my weight in a plank. From gasping for breath every minute due to walking fast to being able to do 60 minutes of boxing with 3 rests. I started in August and I have let go of 17 kg so far. Long road ahead but I am investing in me and my health and my sanity.

    Every effort you make is a step towards healing.

    1. Noice!!! That is amazing. The plank is hard, yo, so you should be proud! The point I guess is that it hurts for a reason? It’s like fixing your body one step at a time and that won’t come without it’a discomforts. So I totally agree. Thanks for reading!

  36. I used to work in wellness and have always been very health conscious. But the last couple months I haven’t been on track with my habits either!! Need to get back with it. Good post!

  37. What a great article. I agree that physical and mental health go hand and hand. I really like how you emphasized that it was up to us to get better. We have to take the initiative and make things happen. Most people don’t want to take that initiative.

  38. Yes! Yes! Yes! I have decided to start over. Just like you, I tried a fitness routine in the beginning of 2019 and then failed! All because of me. Yep, just me. But, I know it’s not too late and I will get on it again. Hopefully, this time, I can and WILL do it. Thanks for sharing. This was really motivating.

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