Pounds and Miles

By Corey T Queen
Corey T Queen

How Lifting Weights and Running Help Me Handle My Mental Health Journey

Balance…everything is about balance. I am very vocal and transparent in my mental health journey. Why not? I have nothing to be ashamed of. My parents abused ME, I didn’t choose that. My mom was vocal on a daily basis of how I was a mistake and ruined her fun life; I didn’t choose to be born. It has taken me a great number of years to not be ashamed of who I am. In addition to medication and therapy (LOVE my therapist), there is one KEY thing that helps keep me in balance: Sweat Equity.

Six, sometimes seven (I have to make myself take a rest day), I am in the gym, lifting thousands of pounds and running thousands of miles. I am not the runner who is taking about a, “runner’s high”, honestly, (and as of this April, I will have been a runner for ten years), I have no idea what that is. I am not a weightlifter who knows what my max is; I simply know when it feels light, add more weight and keep pushing.

Battling Mental health and engaging in exercises are two sides of the same coin. Don’t believe me? You know when you are going down a dangerous rabbit hole of mental health and you feel physically spent, drain, taxed. How do you feel after a good run/weight lifting session? The difference is the reason for each. One is bad and the other is good.

I need my sweat time in the gym to counteract the self loathing I am always putting myself through. After a run/weight lifting session, I look in the mirror with pride, self-kindness. An hour from now, that will not be the case, because of my ongoing battle with my mental health. Exercise allows me to believe in myself. Exercise allows me to be proud of who I am. My exercise self can look in the mirror and know that I am worthy of my wife’s love and our children’s admiration.

There is plenty of trustworthy scientific research that proves how exercise helps us emotionally and mentally, because of what it physically does to our body. I don’t care. I am talking about just how exercise gives me a boost of confidence. Is it cool that at 47 and 275lbs, my resting heart rate is 51? My doctor tells me that. I am simply talk bout about the feeling of how I can accomplish anything.

Have a dilemma that I can’t seem to solve? Exercise. Somewhere during the session, when the dopamine is FLOWING, the answer will come to me. Am I upset because someone did me wrong? Exercise. Sometime during the sweat, I will forgive them for being stupid, and realize that they aren’t worth living rent free in my head.

Exercise has also surrounded me with people all over the globe who are my, “Kin in Miles and Pounds”. We go through heartbreak and triumphs together. I wouldn’t get that sitting on the couch falling down my mental health rabbit hole. My psyche treasures those bonds and as much as I encourage others, I get that back a thousandfold.

Battling mental health is nothing to be embarrassed about. We are human beings who deserve to see ourselves as the ones closest to us see us. Exercise allows my minds-eye to share that vision that others have in me.

I know that in the middle of a BAD day, the road/treadmill/bike/barbell/dumbbell/ kettlebells won’t lie to me. They won’t complain at the pounding I bring to them. And want to know a secret? They give me love back, so I can handle the next wave coming. It’s all about understanding the balance.