This isn't what I was originally going to write about, but in light of some recent events it felt like a topic important in discussing. It can be a controversial subject for some to openly talk about and maybe not one you'd normally expect to read about, but I believe its as important as looking after your body. The topic of mental issues is complicated and has a depth to which I don't plan to venture into on this occasion. However, more and more over the years I've found that performance trails back to the mind and there are small steps you can take to start training a healthy mind as well as a healthy body.
Last week my friend and colleague, Angie Dowds, a predominant figure in the fitness world and TV trainer star of 'The Biggest Loser' took her own life. Whatever drove her to that point is not for us to speculate, however I do know that from problems in her past she found health and a passion in fitness. However, no matter how successful, fit, lean a person can be your mental fitness will control your destiny. Your body is just the carrier for your soul and no matter how great your body, the mind prevails.
Just over a year ago another friend of mine had a cruel fatal accident. We worked in a gym together and his passion was bodybuilding. He too had personal issues and problems, again not my place to detail, but found solace and strength in training and building his body. For him developing a passion to strengthen his body it enabled him to strengthen his mind. He managed to turn his life around by taking control and for him; training was a method to live a happier life. A cruel twist of fate unfortunately meant he was taken away from us before telling his story.
Just as I have been writing this piece, the news came in about Gary Speed, Wales Football Manager, also took his own life. Again, why? We will never really know. But another addition to the case. Your mind rules all actions.
We know that exercise and training can help and perhaps even reverse physical problems, but for some it can alleviate mental issues also. A client of mine completely reversed his high cholesterol by discovering the gym (you now can't get him out of it!!) but on a mental side, his confidence has increased ten fold and admitted recently that he feels more confident in social situations. Another amazed his doctor at the results of his liver test 8 weeks after starting his training regime and paying more attention to what he ate and drank. This same client also has an incredibly stressful job and his three times in the gym with me has resulted in him reporting back that he's sleeping better, coping better and feels an ability to be mentally stronger as he becomes physically stronger.
What I'd like to put to you today is, just to take a moment to consider your mental health. Your body only does what your mind tells it to do. Stress is a powerful force and nobody is immune. Welcome to the world! Stress can't be eliminated so how can we manage? Your emotions and ability to deal with pressure will reflect in your body. To stay healthy on all levels I have a few things here for you to think about.....
Did you know...?
....the inclusion of fish oil Omega 3 fatty acids into the diet has been shown to help people with symptoms of depression (American Psychiatric Association) The brain contains more than 60% fat and essential fat deficiency in the brain could lead to such problems.
......exercise is said to release the 'happy hormone' Serotonin. Serotonin is produced during the day and low levels of Serotonin can cause depression, addictions, aggression, irritability, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and lack of interest. Also high carbohydrate levels raises insulin which lowers serotonin.
.....following a healthy food plan and incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help you manage moods. Maintaining a good intake of food reduces the possibility of binging and the cycle of guilt that follows it. Balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates is key.
...that sleeping better at night can help body fat management. A good night's sleep will help you feel more energised during the day (therefore wanting to train!). Have difficulty sleeping? Ensure you're not taking any caffeine after 4pm and look into Magnesium and ZMA supplementation to assist relaxation and natural sleep. Another 'happy hormone' Melatonin is produced at night.
....training with a partner or trainer can help share the load, working together helps you to stay motivated and on track. You are not alone! If you feel you have a long way to go, why do it alone if you need help? You're more likely to succeed with guidance and support.
....you can ask for help! Unfortunately many people never ask for help feeling that it's a sign of weakness or that it's stupid. Like I mentioned before, a friend, partner or trainer can sometimes help take a load off your mind. If it's more serious, therapy and counselling isn't just for the rich and famous. Many people isolate themselves when it doesn't have to be that way.
I hope these small snippets of advice give you food for thought. Levels of depression are on the rise. Like I've mentioned before, first and foremost, try to take responsibility for yourself. Wanting to take care of yourself isn't selfish. If you are well then you can take care of those around you. Everything is created twice, first in your mind as a single thought and then in physical form.
Take care of yourself!