Workouts help keep me sane. They curb my stress, anxiety and get my mind right. Going to the gym is probably the number one thing I do to provide the self-care that I need when it comes to my mental health.

If you've been following me on social, you might have seen that May is mental health awareness month. I honestly didn't even realize this until earlier in the week when it was brought up at a meeting, but now that I'm aware I have so much to share as it relates to the topic. If you struggle with anxiety or have any stressors impacting your life (I think this catches just about all of us), a few minutes of exercise a day can make a world of difference in terms of how you feel not just physically but mentally as well.

It's true that after I workout, physically I feel more confident in my own skin, can keep up with my crazy kids easier and am in fairly excellent shape which are all amazing don't get me wrong. But, for me, it's so much more than that. When I workout, I am more emotionally stable, my headspace is much more clear and stress and anxiety seem much more manageable in my daily life.

I thrive off an early morning workout. I know that personally if I don't get that workout in first thing or close too it, that it can impact my mood for the course of the entire day. I'd much rather sacrifice a little extra sleep in the morning for a solid workout because that starts my day off on the right foot. Even on vacation you'll find me up before sun-rise and the rest of the family to ensure that I get my workout complete before the days activities begin. Not only do I feel better but my family and anyone around me will benefit from an Ali that got her workout in rather than an Ali who didn't.

Tough workouts help build my mental muscles. Getting through a 30 minute HIIT workout like Sprint is hard. To be frank, sometimes it sucks. But I pushes me to work through those barriers. When I want to quit, I push harder. I'm lucky to have amazing instructors at my YMCA that are super motivating when the going gets tough. The mental clarity we get from our workouts is earned. It's never given for free. When you show up to workout, you earn that mental freedom. You deserve the stress and anxiety relief. I love that just a few minutes of leaving it all on the table, or all the sweat on the floor #letsbereal can have such lasting effects on my mood.

But, it's not just the 30-60 minutes of intense work that help clear my mental space. I enjoy spending 3-5 minutes at the end of a gym session sitting. Just sitting, by myself, maybe a slow stretch of the upper body and neck while listening to my Cool Down playlist. These few minutes ground me after a tough workout and relax my heart and mind.

I'm so thankful for a family that supports my need to get to the gym to make this time for me count. Talk to your spouse/family about your desire to workout for your mental health. Once they realize it's importance to you, they are more likely to support your decision to dedicate a few minutes at the gym for yourself each day. It truly makes a world of difference. With the exception of Sunday's which is my dedicated 100% rest day, I can definitely feel the difference mentally on the days that I don't get in a workout. Unless the rest is truly needed, you'll definitely find me at the gym five to six days a week consistently sweating it out, getting my mind right.

As for this week, the theme of my workouts was bike, stretch, strength and repeat and I kind of loved it! Cycling class is my new favorite thing and with my Bontrager cycle shoes I'm completely obsessed. I can't believe it took me so long to get on the bike; I'd been completely missing out on an amazing workout all because I was too scared to try it! Bodyflow is a mandatory for me every week and I find nothing better than getting up at 5am for an early morning stretch. As for my strength training sessions, they were some of the best I've had in a long time! The time off post half-marathon was just what I needed to kick my strength training into full gear. I took some learnings from my week at NO Limit Fitness using the rower and incorporating other conditioning methods into this week's strength sessions. Just another thing that I find so awesome from these monthly gym experiences!

How were your workouts this week? Try anything new? Push yourself out of your comfort zone? There's no better time than now!

~ Strenth Training Details ~

Back & Biceps

Ladder 1-10
Row kCal
Bicep Curl, 12lbs

Ladder 1-10
Assisted Pushups
Lat Row Barbell, 45lbs

21's Barbell, 25lbs
Lat Pullover, 20lbs, 8 reps

Cable Cross Body Curl, 20lbs, 8 reps
Straight Arm Lat Pushdown, 30lbs, 10 reps

Legs

3 rounds
25 air squats
Single Leg Abduction, 15lb plate, 10 reps
30 seconds pulse lunge

3 rounds
Kettlebell Deadlift, 25lbs, 20 reps
Kettlebell Swings, 25lbs, 10 reps
30 seconds wall sit

3 rounds
24 walking lunges
Bench hamstring curl, 20lbs, 10 reps
30 seconds quick run/lateral ski

Shoulders Chest & Triceps

Ladder 1-10
Row kCal
Shoulder Press, 15lbs

Ladder 10-1
Assisted Pushups
Tricep Extension Plate 15lbs

Lateral Raise, 8lbs, 10 reps
Tricep Pushdown, 30lbs, 10 reps
Wide Arm Pushups, 10 reps