In January 2016, at 83 kilograms, I was exhausted, heartbroken, and depressed. My relationship of 10 years had just ended, and at 27 years old, I felt unattractive; I hated what and who I saw in the mirror, and I felt like my happiness was completely out of my control.
So I decided to get skinny. I thought watching the number on the scale go down would make me happy. And for a while, it did—I started off just walking my dog farther and farther every day, and eventually I joined a gym.
By the end of 2016, my body was exactly where I always thought it needed to be to feel better about myself. I'd spent the previous 11 months working out like crazy and my weight dropped from 83 kilograms to 54.
But instead of feeling good, I felt petrified. The truth was I had spent the past 11 months obsessing over the scale, secretly under-eating, over-training with cardio, and skipping rest days due to overwhelming guilt. And with a lack of food and rest, I was constantly tired, hungry, and completely out of energy.
I didn’t feel beautiful. It hit me that weight loss was clearly not the fix I needed to improve my self-esteem and self-love. I needed to be athletic and healthy instead.
I set out to become strong
I train five to six days per week: I do compound lifts three days a week, then other exercises and a little bit of cardio the other two to three days.
My focus is still on getting stronger and building more muscle—which is why I focus so heavily on compound lifts. I love that you’re targeting more major muscle groups using fewer exercises; you can create a full-body workout in less time and burn more calories than if you were staying in the gym for two hours.
I love my body now
But what I really love is my confidence. Fitness has helped me overcome depression and anxiety and given me a sense of purpose and inner peace.
I work out not because I “should,” but because I finally understand what it feels like to love myself. It’s so crucial to have a healthy self-esteem because when you feel good about yourself physically, it improves your mental outlook and your behaviour.
My number-one tip?
Remember that being happy and confident is the best feeling in the world. Getting healthy and strong created that for me.
Follow Lisa’s fitness journey @lisa.bb88.
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This article originally appeared on Women's Health US