Mid-Michigan woman uses fitness to overcome mental health obstacles

LAPEER, Mich. (WJRT) - Even in 2018 the stigma that surrounds mental health still remains.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, but still many are afraid to talk about the topic.

“I remember sitting in AP English in this specific dress that I was wearing, I was talking to a friend and telling her how I hadn’t eaten anything that day,” says Janelle Tank. “We were proud of it.”

Janelle is just one of the 30 million people who have suffered from some sort of an eating disorder.

“I just got to a low point and realized that something had to change,” she says.

She turned to family and fitness. Fitness had always been a part of Janelle's life, she soon became a personal trainer and trained for body building competitions.

“I was learning to eat better, and that took some time. I ended up competing in my first show of April 2015,” she says.

Although she was beginning to turn her health around, she began to put her physical fitness in front of her mental health.

“ I felt like everything that I was doing in pursuing that and the stage, and trying to be 7% body fat, was the opposite of what I was telling my clients to do,” Janelle says.

3 years later and Janelle says she’s not only physically strong, but she’s mentally stronger than ever.

“If you pursue the scale like I was before, then you won’t always do things that are necessarily healthy in order to make it move,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how good you look if you don’t feel your best.”

She’s now using her story to help others overcome the same struggles through her gym, Nell Nation Fitness. But she’s not just focusing on the physical part of health.

“Helping people see what living a healthy life, physical, mental, relational, spiritual, what that looks like,” says Janelle.

While most people see the gym as a place to grow physically stronger, it’s a place you can grow mentally stronger as well.