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Personal Essay on Weightlifting Helping Anxiety

How My Crippling Fear of Failure Became My Biggest Fitness Motivation

I struggled for so long, trying to find a fitness routine that worked for me. I tried several different gyms, techniques, and classes, but I could never find the right fit. I also suffer from anxiety, so going to the gym always made me feel out of place and uncomfortable. My anxiety became a huge block, and I couldn't get out of my own way. I even tried home workouts so I would feel less self-conscious, but the couch always seemed to be calling my name, so I gave up easily. Whenever I did go to the gym, I stuck to the basics so I wouldn't embarrass myself but never saw any results.

Any fitness routine I tried felt more like a chore, one more thing on my endless list of to-dos. I was about to give up, feeling lost, hopeless, and unmotivated — but I decided to give it one last shot. That's when I got into weightlifting, and it changed my life.

I use my anxiety as my motivation, and I channel it to push through my reps, literally.

With incredible mentors, I was doing things I never thought I was capable of. Through weightlifting, I learned how to turn my anxiety into my motivation. Using my anxiety as my inspiration helped me to push myself harder. My deepest fears became my biggest asset.

My anxiety has constantly held me back in life. I've always been deathly afraid of failing, so my motto has always been "better safe than sorry." In weightlifting, though, failure is OK and even encouraged. When you fail in weightlifting, you only get stronger by pushing yourself to the limit. Your muscles repair themselves, and that weight gets easier every time.

The first time I failed, I panicked and almost ran out of the gym in tears. Instead, though, using my training, I took a step back. I looked around and realized everything was fine, I was fine, so I kept going. Every time I get done with a workout, I feel closer to conquering my fears. I use my anxiety as my motivation, and I channel it to push through my reps, literally.

With weightlifting, you have to put all your focus into each movement. I use my concentration to shift my thinking away from my anxious thoughts, and my mind finally has room to breathe. With every rep, I feel like I'm pushing my anxiety farther away. The heavier I lift, the more anxious weight I feel sliding off my back.

Because of this new routine, when I leave the gym, I feel lighter. Fitness has become a huge way I cope with my anxiety. Channeling that anxious energy into my workouts has made such a positive impact. I've never felt better, and it's motivated me to incorporate healthy living into other aspects of my life.

Fitness isn't about keeping up with everyone else, it's about doing what's right for you. I never would have thought weightlifting was for me, but it works. Sometimes the things that are holding you back can push you forward. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places.

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