Meet Amy Clover, personal trainer and blogger extraordinaire over at Strong Inside Out. Amy’s mission is clear: help others to find clarity, happiness, and strength from the inside out through fitness. As a teen and young woman, Amy struggled with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. She is refreshingly honest and open about her battles, the night she almost ended it all, and how she turned it all around. Now, she is getting others in shape, mentally and physically, and on a mission to raise funds for the cause that is so close to her heart. Here is my interview with Amy, and how you can help her in her mission to help others struggling the way she once did.
Tell us a little about your own struggles with depression, and how this led to your discovery of fitness and nutrition.
After struggling with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder my whole life, I came to a point at which I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I decided to end it. I was admitted to an inpatient program the next day, and it was there that I started to recognize all the freedoms and blessings I had been taking for granted.
I had the choice to either give up, or to hope, challenging my life sentences and working against the odds to recreate life on my own terms. I chose hope.
Over the next few years, I focused on changing my life. I tried and tried, failing miserably multiple times, to turn my life around. It was when I finally discovered fitness as a coping mechanism that I started being able to hold on to the new habits of positive thinking that I was working to implement.
Now, I feel stronger and happier in every area of my life, and I am committed to spreading the message that hope is real.
How did you change your mindset from self-sabotage to self-care? How did fitness help with this change?
I was tired of playing the victim, letting my disorders dictate how I would act and feel. Self-sabotage came in the form of not trying for me.
The decision to commit to making my health a priority was the key to the switch. I chose to focus on myself, as selfish as that sounds. I had to put my health first in order for me to completely turn my life around.
What were your most important aspects of healing?
The most important parts of my recovery were a consistent fitness regimen, a solid support system, a commitment to avoid negative people and energy-drainers, and consciously deciding to act from a place of love at all times.
How are mental and physical fitness related?
Aerobic exercise is proven to help with building new habits, growing brain cells, and managing a host of anxiety, depression and stress disorders.
Personally, I feel clearer when I work out consistently, and I know my clients do, too. It helps my mind hold on to the positive and let the negative go, and empowers me to take more action in my life, which is the most important step to creating life on your own terms.
Why should those struggling in their lives (depression, anxiety, stress, etc.) give exercise and healthy eating a try?
You’ll be surprised the difference you’ll feel if you work out regularly. I never knew that I could feel like this. I always thought happiness was a fleeting emotion one experiences for a day at most. Now I know how amazing life can be if you work to make it happen.
You can choose to accept your life sentence, or you can choose to empower yourself as much as you possibly can to overcome it. Hope is real, and recovery is real if you choose it.
What is it about fitness that helps with depression?
Well, if we are to get scientific about it, exercise raises brain-derived neurotrophic factor, effectively doing what many antidepressants do… and sometimes more.
Fitness helps train our bodies and brains to deal with stress before it comes up unexpectedly, it regulates the neurotransmitters that are targeted by anti-depressants (which wakes up the brain and improves self-esteem), and it interrupts the mental feedback loop of anxiety within the brain. All that and more. J
What is your advice to those who are struggling with mental health?
Please realize that your story is important. You are needed here, and we can’t wait to hear more from you. I want to encourage you to reach out for help, and take action to change your life. You can come out of this and live the life you want if you open yourself up to help, and take action to reframe your mental patterns.
What are you doing to help those who are depressed, and what can we do to help?
To celebrate the 30th birthday I almost didn’t have, I’m teaching 30 donation-based bootcamps in 30 different cities across North America to benefit To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit that provides support to those struggling with depression, self-injury, substance abuse and suicide.
Right now, I’m running a campaign to raise funds for my 30×30 Project on IndieGoGo right now. If you believe that hope is real, please navigate to the page, donate to the tour, and share with your network. It’s only live until February 8th at 12 pm, so please don’t hesitate!
With your help, this hope movement will spread far and wide. Thank you so much for hearing my story, and for encouraging others out there to keep writing theirs.
You can connect with Amy on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. You can also help spread the word by emailing this article to friends and family, or by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social network you’re on.