Relationship Between Mental and Physical Health
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
Sayings like "you are what you eat", or "healthy body healthy mind" are repeated so frequently that I think sometimes people just brush them off, the impact becomes lost and these words get classified as cliche. This is completely understandable but I'm going to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences regarding what happens when either my mental or physical health take a turn for the worst.
Recently I shared my diagnosis of endometriosis and gave a brief outline of what happens when the disease flares. In short, I basically become a zombie. I'm typically in too much pain to do more than walk across my apartment and even that can be an ordeal. On a good day, if I can manage to keep the pain at a less debilitating level, than I can usually get myself to class and pay attention to 50%-80% of what the professor is saying, there is the possibility on these days of also getting some homework done. That being said, the one thing I can rarely do during these flare ups is get myself to the gym, and as a result of that, I can feel my anxiety levels rising due to self consciousness, and I lose almost all motivation to do anything more than what I need to do to survive (and keep my pets safe and healthy).
Within the media, there's a significant amount of emphasis on feeling better because you'll be more toned and/or thinner after spending some time at the gym, and let me be the first to say.... IGNORE THAT. For some people, weight loss or getting toned abs are enough to develop and maintain a fitness routine however, the benefit for myself and many of the people I talk to is the internal transformation that happens as you become more healthy and fit.
After being unable to workout for nearly a month, I obviously became extremely self conscious because I wasn't at my normal weight or fitness level, but more importantly, what I realized was... I really didn't look THAT different. Sure, my limbs and my abs were a bit less toned than they normally are and the number on the scale was a few digits higher; but what really changed was how I saw myself.
I didn't feel strong, energized, or like I could take on anything that came for me. I didn't feel like I had been an athlete my whole life, I didn't feel like myself, and that's what made the difference. The important thing to remember is that the motivation for doing something needs to be internal, personal, and fulfilling to really reap the benefits. It's no secret that the crash diets don't generally work and any of those other quick fixes aren't effective long term.
If you start working out for the sole purpose of being thinner, you'll probably lose motivation after a few weeks because you won't see the results you want fast enough, or you'll come to the realization that it's not really worth it and you'd rather just enjoy your regular life without the stress of the gym.
Bottom line, there's nothing wrong with wanting to workout to look better or lose some weight, but make sure you have bigger goals in mind. Focus on how you feel after a good workout and how your energy level changes, how you're suddenly NOT CRAVING junk food (this is my favourite benefit). Don't just look in the mirror for results, make the goal a full blown body and mind