A few days ago, while I was riding a stationary bike at the gym, an older gentleman we’ll call Greg walked up to me and said, “You know you can lose a lot more calories on the elliptical or treadmill, right?”

Lose a lot more calories? I thought. I’m not trying to lose calories. I’m trying to gain leg strength and endurance…

I just smiled and thanked him, and told him I was winding down after a pretty intense weightlifting session (which was true, too).

After the exchange, I started thinking. So many people assume we’re at the gym to lose weight (especially us girls — sorry y’all, but you know it’s true). Sure, I wanted to drop a few pounds when I joined, but I’ve since learned there’s so much more to gain at the gym — and I’m not just talking about muscles and strength.

However, I realized Greg had an unintentional point: There are things to lose at the gym — they just go way beyond weight.

Top 5 Fitness Myths (And the Facts That Crush Them!)

1. Depression Symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can help knock out depression by:

  • Releasing the brain’s feel-good chemicals (such as endorphins).
  • Reducing the body’s immune system chemicals (that can contribute to depression).
  • Boosting the body’s temperature (which can have a calming effect).

2. Anxiety and Panic

Do I want to leave the house today? Can I face traffic? What will I do if people want to talk to me?

These are the kinds of thoughts someone dealing with panic and anxiety might have when it’s time to leave for the gym; however, once you get to the gym, even just the first few minutes of your workout can squash these troubling thoughts.

I made it out the door! I handled traffic! I said hello to my gym-mates!

Think about how good those accomplishments feel!

Feeling a Little Unfit? 13 Reasons NOT to Get in Shape

3. Self-Doubt and Loathing

Many people avoid working out because they suffer from self-doubt and self-loathing. Unfortunately, the two can form a vicious cycle.

For example, some people loathe themselves for being out of shape or inactive or lacking ambition, but they doubt they have the power to do anything about it. By not doing anything about it, they loathe themselves for not even trying.

If this sounds like you, know that you CAN get off the couch and get to the gym (or even workout at home or get a run in at the park). You DO have the power. You just have to take the first step (standing up!) and all that self-doubt and loathing will begin to fade. You’ll succeed, and the pride you feel won’t leave room for anything but self-confidence.

How about YOU, readers? Besides weight, what do YOU try to lose when you workout?