I began taking my health seriously when I started natural bodybuilding at 18 years old. I wanted to embrace change because I had a rough time at school. I never defended myself and people took advantage of me because I was quite small. I was teased rather than bullied but it was still distressing. However, it soon took over my life and I was going 5 days a week minimum. I LOVED it.
Being physically active is one of the best things you can do to sustain overall good mental health. The reason you feel good and upbeat (and no doubt tired!) after a workout is because your body releases a range of chemicals. One of them is called endorphins (others include dopamine), which are trigged through neurotransmitters in your brain. They stimulate during exercise or other forms of physical activity – wink, wink.
Going to the gym helped fight against my anxiety too. I may look in great shape but I was always in a battle against the negative thoughts inside my head. You should never judge someone by their appearance because you don’t know their story. They might be going through the same emotions as you.
I've known people who refused to start because they feel ashamed by their appearance. I can't preach enough that in reality, it’s a place of encouragement and support if you connect with the right people. Every gym has a stereotype but you will be surprised by how unfairly they're judged. Not every 6’4 guy is on steroids, nor is every girl with toned glutes gone under the knife with implants neither. You must focus on yourself and stop making everything a competition. Live your life and not from the eyes of others. You don't need to feel intimidated because every one of us had to start somewhere.
A gym is a place where you can create the best version of yourself. It’s not just about picking up dumbbells or running for hours on a treadmill. You can do a variety of different things for your body and mind such as attending yoga or pilate classes - both are great places to meet new people, improve your social skills and create a consistently positive mindset.
You must live a healthy lifestyle to give yourself the best chance of reaching your potential. Be smart, train hard and eat clean. Not only will you inspire yourself but you might encourage others to follow in your footsteps.