This mom became a bodybuilding champion to beat her postnatal depression
Postnatal depression is a subject that we need to talk about more in our society, and yet so many new mothers dealing with it feel pressured to keep their feelings bottled up, or else simply don't have a healthy outlet for their fears and anxieties after the stress of childbirth. According to statistics from the National Health Foundation, approximately 12.8 per cent of women who gave birth in 2018 have been diagnosed with it.
But over in Somerset, England, a mom who suffered for postnatal depression has managed to bounce back from her mental illness in the best possible way. How? By becoming a super-badass female bodybuilder, with muscles that make her look more ripped than Wonder Woman.
Jo Barrett first started feeling blue after the birth of her youngest son Theo, and although she was diagnosed by a doctor and given prescription antidepressants, she wasn't able to pull herself out of her slump until she decided to lose the fat and start exercising seriously.
"My alarm would go off and I’d just think, ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to get out of bed'" she stated in a recent interview. "I owed it to my children to get better and fitness has really helped with that. It’s always been in the back of my mind that I could slip back into that place of feeling lost and drifting, but bodybuilding has given me a focus ... For around five days after Theo was born, I was in this happy little bubble. Then, one day, it burst. I’d had baby blues before, as my body reacted to pregnancy hormones. But these were new depths.”
Jo first became a health-nut in 2012, after her doctor measured her BMI and told her that she was technically clinically obese. This motivated Jo to get fit, and she soon applied to take part in a 12-week transformation challenge hosted by the sports nutrition company Bio-Synergy, which offered a comprehensive programme of diet advice, training and supplements. She managed to win the challenge, but enjoyed herself so much that she threw herself into sports and training. She even quit her job to become a full-time personal trainer, and in January of 2017 she decided to become a bodybuilder.
Discussing her workout routine, Jo stated: "I hit the gym first thing, before I’ve eaten, to do half an hour of cardio. Then I do another half hour in the evenings, seven days a week. I also do strength training six days a week, focusing on a different muscle group each time. I’ve found taking weekly pictures of myself in gym gear or underwear helps, as I can see how much my body is changing while I prepare for competition season. When I’m not training, my routine isn’t quite as intense but right now, I’m hoping I can win some of these next competitions to, hopefully, then progress to the world championships."
We often think of our mental health as being the key to our body's physical well-being; but perhaps Jo's example shows that maybe the reverse is true, and that by working out, we can lift our spirits and erase our angst and misery. Either way, hats off to Jo I say: she really is a supermom!