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  • Writer's pictureRandal Williams

Lifting Weights & Lifting Spirits

My Journey Back to Strength

Before life's curveballs, the gym was more than just a place to sweat; it was my sanctuary. As an athlete and trainer, every beat of my heart and every flex of my muscle resonated with the rhythm of the weights. But as challenges like anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction emerged, I found myself drifting, betraying the body that had always been my ally.

Yet, even in the darkest times, the memory of the weight room's solace lingered.

This ember, this persistent siren song, beckoned me back. The call of the weight room was undeniable, and as I returned, I didn't just find a workout routine; I found a path to healing.

Endorphins, those incredible "feel-good" hormones, greeted me like old friends.

Each lift and rep wasn't just a physical act but an affirmation, a declaration of resilience. As I gripped the barbell, I was flooded with these natural mood enhancers, acting as painkillers and giving me euphoria. But the magic of strength training goes beyond just these hormones.

There's a cadence to the weights that speaks to the soul. Every lift and rep became a testament to my journey of rediscovery and reclaiming my strength amidst life's unpredictable storms. The gym, once my second home, once again became the place where I reconnected with myself, where I remembered the strength that had always been within me.


As I reconnected with the weights, I began to unearth the profound psychological benefits of this discipline:

  • Mood Enhancement: Beyond endorphins, weight lifting reduces stress hormones like cortisol, balancing my mental state.

  • Empowerment: The challenge and subsequent accomplishment from lifting weights boosted my self-efficacy, reigniting a sense of empowerment that had dimmed over time.

  • Grounding: The focus required for weight lifting became a grounding technique, anchoring me in the present and helping me manage dissociative moments.

  • Body Connection: Slow, deliberate movements in weight lifting fostered a deeper connection to my body, bridging the gap that trauma had created.

  • Social Support: Whether in group classes or with a coach, the gym offered a community an invaluable support network.

  • Trust Building: With its shared goals and mutual respect, the gym environment became a place to rebuild trust.

  • Goal-setting: Collaborating with a coach on my fitness journey reinstated a sense of autonomy and choice.

  • Resilience: The principle of progressive overload in weight training mirrored my life journey, emphasizing the rebuilding of capability and resilience.

  • Identity Reformation: Witnessing the transformation of my body over time aided in reshaping my identity post-trauma.

  • Accessibility: The beauty of weightlifting is its scalability, allowing me to tailor my workouts to my needs.

  • Integrated Healing: The gym became a space where I could complement the cognitive healing from talk therapy with physical progress.

  • Empowerment Post Trauma: Especially for those who've experienced bodily trauma, weight lifting offers a path to reclaiming one's body and strength.

Research may still explore the depths of weightlifting's therapeutic potential, but my lived experience speaks volumes. Strength training isn't just about building muscles; it's about rebuilding lives, one lift at a time.

As I reflect on my journey...

I'm filled with gratitude. I am grateful for every weight I've lifted, every challenge I've overcome, and every moment that's reminded me of my inner strength and resilience.

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