I used to know exactly what I believed. It was part of my legacy coming from a long line of believers in sin and salvation, in redemption and reward for the righteous, and in judgment and punishment…
We all know that working out feels amazing: Getting your body moving is one of the healthiest shortcuts to happiness. When you raise your heart-rate, and increase blood-flow around your body, your brain gets a hit of adrenaline and endorphins.
Did you know that working out has been medically proven to improve mental health?
There’s another side to it as well: when you exercise it feels good because it’s a sign you are taking control over your life. Suppose you’d grown up overweight, unhealthy and with a low self-esteem. If you began to exercise, even if you didn’t immediately start losing weight, you’d notice differences in how you felt. Your body would sense that you were actually taking action, making changes: taking charge of your situation, and it would reward you. When you start exercising, it is tricky to keep motivated. However, the more you do, the easier that motivation comes. It’s like a positive feedback loop: You start doing exercise, you turn it into a habit, and then it gets easier and easier.
Our bodies are also designed to be on the move: back in hunter-gatherer times, our ancestors used to chase deer, and other prey, by foot, until it was tired out. They would be running for hours, or even days. Our modern sedentary lifestyles actually put more strain on our bodies than working out regularly would, because they are designed for sustained physical exertion. The majority of us work, sitting down, hunched over laptops. If you think of your body, where does it currently ache? Neck? Shoulders? Lower back? Also imagine where all that excess energy is going when you are sedentary. We are creatures of stamina: if that stamina is not reached, you’ll find yourself with a lot of nervous energy, bouncing around inside you, which will make you unable to sleep and more generally anxious. It is important to let off that extra steam physically.
If you stay in one position too long, especially if it is an unnatural position for your body, you will cause your muscles to seize up. However, just 15 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training per day can help get blood flowing to your muscles and loosen up those aches, as well as get you pumped up to face life.
Those aches you get from exercise, called DOMS, are caused by microscopic damage to muscles that aren’t used often. When these muscles repair, they repair bigger and stronger. This means your resistance goes up, and so does your size. You can look at your mental health a bit like a muscle too: at first working it hurts a bit, but that is what makes it stronger. You can’t give up, because once you’ve started, you’re already on a journey.
We get it: It can be hard to stay on task at the beginning. You do a workout, the next day you’re sore, tired and you’re already hungry, craving sweets, and suddenly all your motivation is gone. Before you know it, you have slipped right back into your old habits. This is why an important part of this experience is habit-building. Habits dictate our lives, and can also be made, changed or broken. Habits are created because of the reward centres in your brain basically being reached via a shortcut: Scrolling through facebook gives you a brief dopamine rush, and it’s easy to obtain, so you’ll keep on doing it. To break a habit, you must train your brain to seek out longer term rewards.
To stay on task, become aware of yourself: how your mind interacts with your body at certain times. Do you find yourself reaching for the chips at 5pm every day? Do you smoke too many cigarettes in the morning, while you’re getting up? To move towards breaking these habits, track and record them. Write down in a journal what time, your mood, your energy levels, and some thoughts as soon as you find yourself being compelled to engage in one of these behaviours. Next, start to think about the reason behind why you might want to follow this habit. Maybe you’re smoking because you actually want to get outside, or have a walk. Maybe you’re eating chips because you’re bored. Pinpoint what your actual need is.
A good way to keep motivated in the early days of habit building is by surrounding yourself with positive enabling people, who will support your healthy progress. You are more likely to grow if you are with people who want to see that happen, and who will celebrate your wins with you. Joining a community of like minded people is a really good place to start. Here’s where we come in!
We are excited to go on this journey with you!
About five meters from the school door there was a bar, usually frequented by older men, the school was in a neighborhood far from the city center, away from other neighborhoods that were not formed…