This is my Story

“I initially joined The Exchange Fitness with one goal and that was to lose the 20lbs I had gained over the previous year. 2019 brought my family to St. Augustine and it was my first time taking on the title “stay at home mom” to two. It took longer to make friends during this move since I didn’t work, and I honestly felt a little lost. My daughter would be starting Kindergarten and my son was a year old. My husband had the excitement of a new job and I became lonely. My old friends, anxiety and depression, decided to come hang out and I coped with a lot of my feelings by eating. I made the decision to call my doctor and take the next steps for getting out of my current mental rut. I started taking medication which helped me so much, but it had side effects that I did not like. Taking medication was the best decision at that time since I did not want to keep being so moody with my kids and husband. Fast forward to January 2020 when my dad suffered a major stroke that almost killed him. My dad raised me and we have always been pretty close. He had left me in charge to make all of his decisions in the event he could no longer do that for himself. My life received an added layer of stress since it meant I would now be a caretaker of 3; my dad and two young children. You all know that March of 2020 brought us “lockdowns” and I think everyone experienced a fair share of anxiety and depression throughout that period. I continued to cope with my stress and boredom by cooking and eating EVERYTHING! I would go on an occasional walk or bike ride with my family but I had no consistent workout schedule during lockdown. I wasn’t going anywhere, so I really did not notice how tight my clothes had become. June rolled around and it was time for my daughter’s dance recital. It was our first major outing since the COVID-19 shutdowns and we would all be required to wear a mask. I was really excited to wear normal clothes and put-on makeup and actually feel cute. Let me tell you, I felt anything but cute. I tried on so many different outfits that day and hated the way I looked in each one of them. I settled on a plain black dress because I had hoped it would make me look smaller. As with all recitals we took photos, and I was horrified at my appearance. I knew I could not stay on the path I was on. I was already feeling some conviction to lose weight and start exercising regularly. I knew my dad’s stroke could have possibly been avoided had he exercised and ate healthy at my age (and beyond). I knew I was getting more depressed because of my appearance and the boredom of being home every day. Businesses were starting to open back up and it was time for me to take action!

In June of 2020, I took the plunge and decided to join The Exchange Fitness. The workouts were so hard, but I felt amazing afterwards. In July of 2020, I was feeling so much better mentally. I had made friends, I was physically stronger, my mood was better and more consistent, I had more energy, and I felt something I had not felt in a long time — confident. I started to wonder if I could maintain all of those things if I came off my medication too. I spoke to my doctors after previous months of trying different medicines and I finally realized that maybe I couldn’t find the “right” medication because I no longer needed it. I was really nervous of this idea of no meds, but I prayed about it and felt led to come off of them. I made a deal with myself, (with my doctors’ approval), I could come off of the medication as long as I went to the gym at least three times a week. I would call my doctors when I felt myself getting in a mental rut and we would reassess if it came to that. Joining The Exchange has been such a game changer for my mental health. I am still working toward losing weight but at this point, that is just a bonus. Today, my focus is on making sure I get those three workouts in each week and give every one of them my best effort. I know that the person I have become since working out consistently is a better mom, wife, and caretaker for my dad. Since joining The Exchange, I have more social interactions, more confidence, and it helps me cope with stress and anxiety in a healthy way. I feel blessed to have my “gym family” at The Exchange. It is important to me to mention that my journey does not stop at weight loss or work out completions at The Exchange.  I am continuing to learn new skills too. From rope climbing to double under jump rope and pull-ups, I still have many physical goals to check off my list. I am confident if I keep showing up, the rest will come!”

~ Candice