Personal Trainer – Paula

Taking Control of Your Mental Health with Exercise

You’ve often heard the phrase ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’ and at Xercise4Less gyms we always preach a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, one of our top Personal Trainers wants to share her inspiring tale of overcoming mental health issues thanks to exercise.

Paula, a Personal Trainer at Xercise4Less Darlington gym, was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) over ten years ago. BPD, the most commonly recognised personality disorder, is, according to the NHS “a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others”. As a result, Paula differs “significantly from an average person in terms of how he or she thinks, perceives, feels or relates to others”. BPD is unfortunately incurable but can be managed.

One of the major causes of BPD is personal trauma and Paula has had a very tough journey through life. “I have been abandoned, kidnapped, and bullied and been through every type of abuse you can think of.” On top of BPD Paula has also suffered from “self-harming, suicidal tendencies, low self-esteem, anxiety, body dysmorphia and recurring eating disorders. Thankfully for the past five years, Paula’s life has been stable and is no longer a “a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs”.

What helped to improve Paula’s mental health?

She started to work out. “The biggest difference between then and now is exercise, my mental health started to improve when I started exercising”.

Finding the Mental Strength to Work Out

It hasn’t been easy for Paula though on her fitness journey. As she admits, “it’s a love hate relationship that I have with exercise”. Mostly she loves the pleasure that fitness sessions give her, “the feeling of accomplishment, achieving something, and of course, the feelgood release of endorphins from working out.” Sometimes, however, she has to work a bit harder to get into the exercise mood, when “the last thing on my mind is lacing up those trainers and going out for a run or heading to Xercise4Less Darlington gym for a workout.”

In the past, overcoming those mental obstacles to exercise was sometimes too much for Paula. Even though she recognised that physical exercise benefited her mental health hugely, she still couldn’t manage to motivate herself to train.

That’s now changed.

Consistent Exercise Leads to Improved Mental Health

Paula knows that “as long as I keep exercising, both my physical and mental health will benefit greatly.” And she manages to keep that up despite leading a very busy life outside of work. Not only is she an expert Personal Trainer at Xercise4Less Darlington gym, Paula is a single mum to a five-year-old and is studying part-time. Even for a motivated Personal Trainer like Paula, it’s not surprising she finds it “hard to find the time to train”. That doesn’t stop her though, she enjoys “getting a good cardio session in when I am teaching Cycle4fiit on Sunday mornings in the gym. In addition to her own training, she has the inspiring support of her training buddies. “I train with my boyfriend after work a few times a week and I also hold running sessions for the local mental health hospital twice a week.”

What would Paula say to people suffering from mental health? “My top tip is simply to keep exercising. The benefits of working out will really help the stability of your mental health.” She also advises to make sure to “get yourself a good network of people to keep you on track. I am lucky to have a very supportive family and partner to help me”.

Change Your Exercise Mentality at Your Local Xercise4Less Gym

Inspired by Paula’s story? Make sure you stay healthy in mind and body by exercising regularly. And where better than your local Xercise4Less gym team.

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