Get to Grips With..Hilary
Last month Noels contribution was shared for the 'Getting to Grips with..' series. Having just competed in her first individual completion this weekend at the Rainhill trials (one of her goals for this year!) and to kickstart #mentalhealthawarenessweek Get A Grip fitness would like to share Hilarys contribution.
Name: Hilary Galvin
How would you best describe or define fitness?
Fitness is unique to the individual. To me it is something that makes me feel good. It is a constant in an often-chaotic life. The barbell will always be there, it will always weigh 15kg. With fitness, you will always get back what you put in, which is so rewarding.
What exercise, sport or fitness regime do you partake in and how often?
Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting, 1-2 hour sessions five times a week.
When did you start to experience mental health problems if at all?
I was diagnosed with depression aged 21, but if I am truly honest I struggled with issues such as anxiety, eating disorders and low self-esteem since the age of 12.
Was there a ‘lightbulb’ moment when you realised you had to make a change and how did your transition into exercise and fitness come about?
For as long as I can remember I struggled with my weight and body image. I always associated being happy with being ‘thin’. Throughout my teens disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food lead to my weight fluctuating between 51kg at my lightest and 92kg at my heaviest. Neither at my lightest, heaviest or in-between did I feel comfortable in my own skin. I had never exercised as a kid and always avoided P.E. in school. When I was 23 I decided I had enough of dieting and restricting myself constantly just to stay in a size 10. I had heard about Crossfit from a friend and I liked the idea of small group classes in a warehouse with no mirrors. It took a lot of bravery on my part to step foot in the box as I was embarrassed of my lack of strength and fitness background. I would get out of breath just thinking about a burpee! But I knew I had to make a change and from my very first class I didn’t look back.
What impact has exercise and fitness had on your physical and mental health?
My life has been transformed as a result of Crossfit. When I joined I was last in every class, I could barely squat 50kg and my form was terrible. I could hardly run 200m without being a red sweaty mess gasping for breath. I can now squat over 150% of my body weight, can comfortably complete a lot of workouts ‘as prescribed’ without scaling and have competed in some small local competitions. The change in my mental health however has been the most important difference to me. I am confident in my looks, I am no longer obsessive with the scales and I find I have much less unhappiness in my life due to this healthy outlet. I no longer smoke, or use drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with difficulties that life may throw at me. I have also made many friends that have a similar outlook on life, which has been an incredibly positive influence on me.
Any future fitness goals or targets?
In the next few years I plan to compete in an individual Crossfit competition, and also hope to compete locally in Olympic Weightlifting.
Any final words of encouragement or advice for anyone struggling with mental health issues?
My advice would be to find something that works for you. Not everyone is suited to throwing a barbell around or enduring long gruelling workouts. Running, yoga or basketball may be just what you need to get that release or take your mind away from life’s stresses. It is never ‘too late’ to make a positive change in your life or to try something new.
Even if fitness is not for you, it is important to try and talk about any difficulties you may have in regards to mental health. You never know who else may be feeling similar to you and may be able to offer some support.