One woman uses exercise and routine to take control of her life

Getting to fit for mental stability

One woman is finding a way to beat her depression by getting up and getting fit.

Nancy Klinger is one of seven people participating in the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. Klinger applied to the Challenge after experiencing various personal setbacks, including a separation from her husband of 26 years.  She wrote about her struggles with depression and how exercise has changed her life:

"I am one of many who occasionally suffer from depression. It is usually just a minor case of the blues, but on occasion it turns into all out sadness - so much so you ache.

You purposely stay away from things that make you happy, you don't like yourself, and you cry a lot (when you're alone). You hate yourself for feeling badly while really being so incredibly fortunate.

My guess is that this fact would be a shock to the great majority of people who know me or work with me because I hide it so well. On the outside, I am always thought of as the happy one, the positive one, the person who is always smiling. If I were in a beauty pageant I would be in the running for Miss Congeniality!

On the inside, my life is filled with pain and emotions that are either incredibly high or incredibly low. It's exhausting.

Last year when my husband and I separated, my world seemed to spiral downward; the sadness seemed to be overtaking me. There were no more ups, only downs. Time spent with a therapist did some good, but when the recommendation was made that I consider a low dose of an antidepressant, I needed to decline.

I am as stubborn as they come and felt that I needed to work through this on my own.

Fast forward to the CNN FitNation Triathlon Lucky Seven. In 150 days from today I will be participating in the Nautica Triathlon in Malibu with six incredible teammates. Being selected to participate was indeed a blessing. From the start, I began exercising on a regular basis and slowly, but surely, my mood started improving.

With great help and support from a wonderful trainer, I get assigned a schedule for each day through a website called TrainingPeaks.

I started setting goals for myself, something that I have always shied away from, probably for fear of not achieving them. I started sharing my goals with others to hold myself more accountable. I started feeling better about myself, about life. My Fit Nation teammates slowly became my soul mates.

Other positive things started to happen. To get everything done that needs to get done each day, I started to compartmentalize parts of my life. My week is scheduled to make sure that I can get all my training done without negatively impacting the other important aspects of my life.

I leave the house early one to two days a week for a morning swim workout. I run at work some days during lunch. I set aside time to read two nights a week. Long bike rides are done on weekends. Cleaning the house and outdoor chores are now done on set days, rather than me freaking out about it on a regular basis.

I know that may sound funny but a lot of people probably know what I mean. Sundays are now my "no shower" days, and I try my best to leave my car in the garage. Time is set aside for volunteer activities. My life now seems to have a good and healthy rhythm; I am calmer and more relaxed.

The exercise feels more like habit - a good habit.

Over the past several months, I have recognized and acknowledged many things about myself and my life. I am starting to realize that it is okay to be happy and it is great to have goals.

The finish line of the triathlon, for me, will be the starting line for the next part of life's journey, and I am looking forward to it!"

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