As a mother with a busy lifestyle, Jess Willers has often struggled to put her health and wellbeing first. While she’s successfully lost weight on several occasions through diet alone, these positive physical changes unfortunately haven’t gone hand-in-hand with her mental wellbeing.
“My weight has dramatically changed on multiple occasions over the years,” said Jess. “Losing the weight and sticking to my weight loss plan has never been a problem; it has been the points when my mental health took over that I would begin to slip backwards. As a result, the weight slowly crept back on and the mental health issues became more and more frequent. Unfortunately, I’ve had regular low moods from a very young age and as much as I’ve had therapy of sorts, it has never left me seeing much improvement in mood.”
Her most significant weight loss came in 2019 as Jess lost an impressive eight stone, again through dietary changes. However, this again didn’t resolve her mental wellbeing challenges and instead, came her lowest mental point to date.
“That was the year that my personal circumstances and mental health took a dive,” added Jess. “I’d lost that weight through diet alone and didn’t have a regular workout to go alongside my dietary efforts. As much as I regularly tried to drag myself out of my low mental health points, all that would happen is that I would regularly lose a few pounds, and get a brief feeling of a high before struggling to lose any more.”
Having put on six of the eight stone she lost, Jess took the opportunity to take matters into her own hands and break the cycle of her ongoing challenges. After undergoing a mini gastric bypass a couple of years later, she felt it was time to start afresh and put exercise and fitness at the heart of it.
This is where her journey with Anytime Fitness began. With Jess looking for a gym following her surgery, she came across Anytime Fitness St Sampson due to their strong media presence and some personal recommendations by her friends. It marked an exciting new chapter for Jess but it still came with an initial few initial challenges to overcome.
“I was excited to get started and build my fitness and endurance, but my confidence has never been great so there was initially an element of feeling hugely out of place,” explained Jess. “However. there was no one who looked at me or treated me any differently and I quickly realised it was my inner demons that were trying to self-sabotage my efforts and telling me that I didn’t belong with all these fit healthy people.
“The team here go out of the way to introduce themselves and show a genuine interest and support in my gym journey. It honestly makes such a difference coming to a place where the staff are genuinely friendly. I have attended gyms in the past where the staff seemed unhappy, distracted or more concerned about their own personal fitness.”
When she’s in the gym, you’ll usually find Jess enjoying a cardio workout or on the weights machines as she continues to grow in confidence in the gym environment. While she’s still relatively new to the gym, Jess can’t speak highly enough of the mental benefits she’s enjoyed.
“I genuinely miss the place when I’m not there!” said Jess. “I genuinely get frustrated with myself when for whatever reason I haven’t managed to make my normal sessions and I feel my mental health slowly deteriorating as that absence goes on. How good I feel may be down to the chemical reaction with good endorphins or the fact I have the time to process my thoughts while I do my workout. If I’m not at work or caring for my child, I’m normally being pulled in hundreds of different directions and having ‘me time’ at the gym allows me to put my own thoughts and feelings into perspective. Alternatively, it allows me to switch off to everything apart from what I’m doing which is also a much-needed respite.”
For anyone that’s potentially on the fence or anxious about joining a gym, Jess has this advice: “I genuinely talk about it with my friends a lot and whenever I see them frustrated with their own health, be that physical or mental, I tell them how much mine has improved over the past six months. Personally, I think the best advert for something like the gym is seeing the difference in the person and I’ve had so many positive reactions so far since I joined.”