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Gym & Depression

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I've been out of the gym since last year since coming down with a bad case of depression, which I've been in denial about for about a year and just recently started medicating for. We'll see if treatment helps lift my mood back up but I'm curious if anyone has faced this situation and had any tips on getting back into the routine. I'm not motivated to get to the gym because I'm miserable, and I'm miserable because I'm not motivated to get to the gym! CHICKEN OR THE EGG???

I've also been struck with weird gym anxiety, like "what if I see the regulars that go to the gym at the same time as I do and they all notice how much I shrunk since they last saw me?" I've never had this problem before and it's so deflating!

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1 hour ago, timsf said:

I've been out of the gym since last year since coming down with a bad case of depression, which I've been in denial about for about a year and just recently started medicating for. We'll see if treatment helps lift my mood back up but I'm curious if anyone has faced this situation and had any tips on getting back into the routine. I'm not motivated to get to the gym because I'm miserable, and I'm miserable because I'm not motivated to get to the gym! CHICKEN OR THE EGG???

I've also been struck with weird gym anxiety, like "what if I see the regulars that go to the gym at the same time as I do and they all notice how much I shrunk since they last saw me?" I've never had this problem before and it's so deflating!

Have you considered the option of training at home (where the only person in the gym would be you), then after a while asking a friend to come along, then after another while asking another friend and then go to a proper gym in order to build up exposure?

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How about making a "fresh start" by going to a different gym (at least until you decide that you are comfortable going back to your old gym)?  At the "new" gym, you'll meet new people, work out on different equipment, and be involved in a whole new atmosphere.  Making a "fresh start" might  be helpful and fun for you (and it might help you get back into a regular workout routine).   Anyway, I just wanted to mention this as a possible suggestion.     

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Depression is a medical condition, like a broken leg is a medical condition.  It's hard to talk about and acknowledge, let alone seek treatment for it, so you should give yourself a huge pat on the back for taking that step.

 

As far as picking a single thing in your life (no longer wanting to go, or no longer motivated to go to the gym) to work on, that's also a big step for you. You know that your behavior is not what you want, and you want to change it.  Here's a few things I keep in mind for myself when my motivation for working out slacks off:

1.  Taking an extra "rest day" or two isn't the end of the world.  It may ultimately help my growth goals  for more strength and size.

2.  I remind myself - "What ARE my goals or intentions in going to the gym?"

        a.  I really like the way a muscular male body looks

       b.  I've discovered, and proven to myself over time, by my own actual experiences with growth, that I can change myself.  I CAN develop bigger pecs (HELLO!) arms, legs, butt, back and lats through exercise.

      C.  I do this for MYSELF.  I do it because I LOVE the way it makes me look and feel.  I enjoy the boners (being honest here, even if it's TMI lol) that I get when flexing in the mirror after a good workout.

   d.  I realize that working out is hard and BORING and cuts into my time to do other stuff in my life --- BUT ---- If I REALLY want it and VALUE it, I will make the time for it.

   e.  Motivational pictures are only going to get you so far.  After you bust a nut over some dude's morphed pecs or butt, that still leaves you as you.  The Morphs are ultimately a bad thing, for me, personally, because I get distracted and lose focus on my own goals and reality.  No one looks like that, and they never will without plastic surgery or synthol or chemical enhancement, none of which I'm willing to do.  It would compromise my health which is counter to what I want to do.

3.  At the end of the day, for me, it's all about personal accountability.   IF I don't workout, I won't get bigger.  If I don't get bigger, I won't be happy when I look in the mirror.  It's up to me to get my butt in gear and head to the gym or do SOMETHING to improve my physical condition.

4.  Things I do to improve my physical condition on an ongoing basis, even when I haven't been going to the gym:

a. Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables: usually that's chicken or beef, at least 2 vegetables (usually steamed or at most, with butter) and carbs (potatoes, rice).  

b. WALK as much as I can.  My office is in the city, so I walk up steps every chance I get.  I can feel my glutes working.  I've had to go up a pants size due to thigh and glute growth.  [Don't talk to me about "skinny" jeans ! UGH!]

c. Read up on exercise techniques and programs to learn as much as I can about what works for me and my body type.

d.  Keep perspective. Most men around me are either fat or horribly out of shape. Even young guys (!) in their 20s and 30s are working on a double chin as they wobble along the sidewalk, sluping down a sugary soda or fatty fries.  

e. Drink water constantly.  When I do drink coffee, don't add anything - no sugar, no cream - no calories!  Also, cut down on the caffeinated coffee and drink more decafe.  It makes me less frantic.

4.  Keep perspective - this feeling of ennui or staleness will pass.  Focus on keeping a routine, focus on the positive.  Pray/offer it up/seek to enhance your karma or oneness with the universe --- whatever keeps you centered.

5. Remember that most people are just like you.  They live lives of "quiet desperation" just trying to get through the day.  Any goal is a bulwark against that oppressive sense of nihilism that can pervade all our lives and rob them of meaning.

6.  Keep on keeping on.  Put one foot in front of the other, one more rep.  Tomorrow is a new day, and another step of progress.

 

Good luck.  Remember that you are loved and valued, even if there are times when that does not seem possible.

Mdlftr


 

 

 

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16 hours ago, timsf said:

I've been out of the gym since last year since coming down with a bad case of depression, which I've been in denial about for about a year and just recently started medicating for. We'll see if treatment helps lift my mood back up but I'm curious if anyone has faced this situation and had any tips on getting back into the routine. I'm not motivated to get to the gym because I'm miserable, and I'm miserable because I'm not motivated to get to the gym! CHICKEN OR THE EGG???

I've also been struck with weird gym anxiety, like "what if I see the regulars that go to the gym at the same time as I do and they all notice how much I shrunk since they last saw me?" I've never had this problem before and it's so deflating!

 

8 hours ago, Mdlftr said:

C.  I do this for MYSELF.  I do it because I LOVE the way it makes me look and feel.  I enjoy the boners (being honest here, even if it's TMI lol) that I get when flexing in the mirror after a good workout.

Mdlftr hit the nail on the head.  This is the reason you should be in the gym.. it's for YOU, no one else.  It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks no matter how you've changed.  This is something I struggle with myself.  I do this for ME, it makes me feel good.  I try to progress for ME no matter how small the progress might be.  It was only a few months ago in fact that I was feeling exactly like you.  I kept letting the visions of everyone else getting bigger and stronger get in the way of my own progress because I was feeling like I wasn't measuring up.  I had quite a few weeks where I only made it to the gym once in the week.  Started feeling sorry for myself.  Only after realizing that I should only be doing it for myself was I able to pull myself out of the funk.

 

8 hours ago, Mdlftr said:

5. Remember that most people are just like you.  They live lives of "quiet desperation" just trying to get through the day.  Any goal is a bulwark against that oppressive sense of nihilism that can pervade all our lives and rob them of meaning.

Very true. You have no idea what problems other people may be facing, even that big muscle guy in the gym that intimidates you has problems.  For all you know he's facing a messy divorce or maybe he just found out that his kidneys are failing.  You just don't know.  I've had my own share of problems: a genetic blood disease that I only found out about last year, digestion issues to the point I have had to be in the ER for a bleeding stomach, caused by allergic reactions, and the list can go on.  But you wouldn't know that just by looking at me.  I try to get by just the same as you.

So don't worry what other people think.  Doesn't mean anything.  If you want it badly enough, then just go to the gym and make it a regular part of your daily/weekly routine.  Don't let anything come in front of it, even if you just go there to run for 15 minutes to help you make the habit.  Just make it a part of who you are.

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As a practical matter:

Consider hiring a personal trainer, even if only for a short period of time (2-3 months.) Depending on how your finances are looking, it can be a daunting proposition but it can be very effective psychotherapy. Ditto, I don't know about you but having an appointment (a place to be, a reason to be there, a person waiting for me) is a BIG motivator. And eventually that spills over into working out on my own.

I say this from experience. I worked out fairly consistently with my first husband (despite our very disparate sizes) for most of the seven years we were together but after he passed away in 2001 I just couldn't get back in the gym. More precisely, I would go, on my own, for a week or two or three, and then I'd get discouraged (not so much about my lack of progress as the lack of my spouse), and then wouldn't go again for six months to a year.

It was nearly seven years before I realized "it's now or never" and I took that year's tax return and applied it a few months of personal training, which turned into three very good years with an outstanding trainer (my 2nd hubby worked out with him, too.)

At any rate, good luck with it. As Mdlftr points out, depression is hard (it's been with me for as long as I can remember, in one form or another) and being able to acknowledge it, to own it, and to talk about it with others is a tremendous accomplishment.

Hope this helps.

:: Hugs ::

Richard

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The French have a very interesting saying: "Le muscle est le contrepoids du nerf." Even if you don't know any French, you can easily guess the meaning: "Your muscles are a counterweight for your nerves." If this is physiologically speaking true, it explains why working out helps against depression. In a few particular cases, so does fasting. (PS. Noone should start fasting without supervision or some prior knowledge about it.)

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An additional note: two more things that work against depression are: contact with nature (even if it is in a movie - as far as I know, depression is an urban illness) and humor (reading comic books or watching comic movies). My two cents....

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