Depression is a clinical condition that affects an estimated 1.5% of the adult population in the U.S. on an annual basis. In other places around the world, millions more struggle with this condition. They often cope with their personal symptoms in silence. PumpUp member Caroline grappled with depression prior to having her children, and dealt with postpartum depression after her second child was born. At first, exercise made it possible for her to alleviate her symptoms. "After my third child, I turned to jogging and hiking to release my tension," she explained. "With health apps, I started to practice weighted exercises with dumbbells. I started to enjoy working out and I appreciated the benefits of it." Caroline made healthier changes and motivated the rest of her family to follow suit. But because Caroline exercised alone within the comfort of her home, she didn't have anybody to keep her accountable. She felt like she needed somebody to encourage her and to remind her that she was doing amazing things. "By adding PumpUp into my active life, I was able to share my journey— I felt connected and not so alone," she enthused. "[It's] sort of like having a team to cheer you on. It kept me moving forward. I think that when you are connected and belong to a community of supportive people, you are more likely to succeed because you have a group that reminds you of your values and self worth. That's what the PumpUp community was able to do for me. This is so crucial when you are a person living with depression."
In the earlier stages of her life, Caroline experimented with different weight loss programs and diets in an attempt to take charge of her physical health. She wasn't able to maintain it in the long term until she discovered that small changes worked best for her. Non-scale victories have been the pillars of Caroline's success. "I celebrated each and every milestone, no matter the magnitude," she elaborated. "If I walked a block longer than the day before, I celebrated that achievement. If I held a plank a few seconds longer, I celebrated it. I focused on the present moment and soaked in every small achievement. I went from celebrating my first front lunge to celebrating as I crossed the finish line of a 10K run for the 2nd year in a row."
Self care is a critical component of Caroline's recovery process. She strives to get enough sleep, eat well, and do things that enrich her soul. These daily check-ins prevent Caroline from falling into a downward spiral. "It's easy for [that] to happen when you're a mother of three kids, and juggling a full-time occupation," she revealed. "Us mothers have a natural tendency to put ourselves last. Before you know it, you are standing in front of the mirror, wondering how you let yourself go so far. Self care is crucial to having a healthy mental state of mind." Caroline's children are her greatest source of motivation. She aspires to inspire them in a positive way, and she doesn't want them to suffer with their mental health in the same way that she did.
In Caroline's opinion, it's important to begin one's health and fitness journey with a positive mindset. "Say something kind to yourself and repeat this every day," she advised. "Don't just say something positive to yourself, say something positive to others and to the people in the PumpUp community. Then, use this community to share about your journey, find inspiration, and discover your greatest strengths. That itself is motivation to keep moving forward, one step at a time."
Moving forward, Caroline hopes to inspire others on PumpUp with her story. "[We] help each other to reach [our] goals, whether it is to stay active, have enough courage to try something new, or to simply wake up and say, 'I can'," she shared. "I love waking up and plugging into PumpUp's homepage. It starts my day in a positive way. I feel blessed that I was chosen to share my story. I am celebrating this very moment."
Caroline's favorite ways to take care of her body
I find pure joy being connected with nature. Unplug yourself from anything that has a screen. Step outside, go for a hike, garden with your kids, walk barefoot on the beach.... hike up a mountain and do some yoga. It's my go-to therapy for physical and mental wellness.
What having a healthy mind means for Caroline
Having a healthy mind to me is having peace. It's being in tune with yourself and having a sense of self awareness. Developing a good sense of self awareness is crucial for a healthy mind.
How Caroline feels body confident
I am most body confident when I stand tall and I tell myself that I am freaking amazing! In the last year, I really came to a point in my life where I said, how I look and feel is entirely up to me. That's not for anybody else to decide. Just me, myself, and I. I put on a bathing suit and shorts and I rocked it.
Keep Caroline pumped! Connect with her on PumpUp @vancity_soul.