Exercise is Medication

In my previous blog Part 1: I want to lose weight but I don’t like exercise and love food too much #Help !! 🍦🍔🍟. I wrote about how I was going to lose weight and find a way to keep it off compassionately without fad dieting or hurting my body. This is a sister post to that blog.

 

 

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I’m not really a big fan of exercise. I like the post workout high and the muscle definition but I really don’t like the sweaty gyms, pain, boredom, having to go to the gym when I’d rather be doing something else etc…


 

Exercise is key to your health:

It is often said that if you could put exercise into a pill form it would be the most powerful anti-depressant on the market. Not only does it raise Serotonin, it also gives you more energy. It seems like a catch 22 that when you feel like you have no energy the best thing to do is to exercise which requires energy and stamina. But over time breaking this cycle will become a habit. The increase of energy and tangible results will motivate you to carry on. Just say to yourself the start is the hardest part.

I believe the body wants to exercise that’s why afterwards you feel so great. Even though it may sometimes be uncomfortable to exercise; the pride you feel in accomplishing something you were reluctant to do overrides guilt, shame and low mood you feel from being paralysed on the sofa. There’s great power in doing ‘something’; it relieves stuckness and increases self esteem.

Exercise is not a substitute for therapy and cannot heal you of your ‘issues’. But I do believe it helps you to engage with the inner Warrior part of yourself. Your internal ‘Xena’ who won’t be defeated by other people and/or your own mind. The negative physical symptoms will decrease and with that it will drain the power these negative thoughts/beliefs have over you as they will be standing alone with little physical symptoms to rely on.

I find anything you put before your mental or physical health ultimately falls apart. If we don’t treat ourselves the way we deserve to be treated then we it will lead to burn out, breakdown’s, ill health etc…

‘It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigour.’

Marcus Tullius Cicero


 

Anxiety:

As you have probably seen I’m a big fan of Huskies! They are beautiful animals and need a lot of exercise as they luckily have an endless supply of energy. If they are cooped up in a house all day and not adequately active then they have no outlet for their energy and become destructive.

 

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This is similar to how our brain works. I’ve often experienced fast brain/slow body. The brain burns so much energy from obsessing and worrying that your body feels exhausted even if you haven’t physically done much that day.

Anxiety puts you into fight or flight mode and the adrenaline pumps through your body ready to take action. If you don’t fight or flight then this adrenaline stores up in the body and has a harmful effect on your health. It needs to be released.

There’s a great article on the long term effects of too much adrenaline in the body here.

A wonderful technique I’ve heard a lot of people talk about it called ‘TRE’. Admittedly I have yet to do this but as soon as I do I will give my full unbiased opinion on it.

TRE stands for ‘Trauma Release Exercises’. Dr Peter Levine discovered that wild animals release trauma by shaking (if you’ve ever been severely afraid or anxious you will notice your body does this naturally). He noticed animal expel stress chemicals through tremors which would otherwise store in the body leading to a series of complaints including physical ailments, depression etc…It’s one of the reasons humans experience trauma decades later whilst wild animals usually don’t. Historical trauma and stress chemicals stay and infect our bodies. Levine created “Somatic Experiencing” body work to let us experience the reset motions we need to deal with trauma that happened decades before.

Depression:

Exercise and Depression seem like mortal enemies. I wouldn’t say exercise is the ‘cure’ for depression but it’s pretty close! Doctors have been known to prescribe exercise to patients dealing with mental health complaints because of the undisputable evidence that shows how much it helps treat mental conditions.

I’m not talking about becoming a body builder, I just mean getting out and about. I know how difficult it can be to even take a shower when you’re in your worst state but even if you can just walk to the shop and back it’s a massive achievement considering the set of circumstances against you. I remember when I was healing from having my appendix out I could barely make it to the shop without huffing and puffing. Dealing with mental pain and physical pain is the same, your brain is an organ in your body just like any other part of your anatomy.

People dealing with Mental Health issues are extremely strong and some of the most inspirational people I’ve met. Every day is a battle with your mind as well as having to put up with other people’s ignorance’s which feeds that critical voice attacking you. People blame themselves for symptoms that aren’t their fault; if you had the flu you wouldn’t blame yourself for having a fever or muscle aches/pains. No you’d rest until you were fully recovered.

The symptoms of Depression include:

  • Pain in muscles/joints
  • Feeling heavy in the body
  • Lack of energy
  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • Low self esteem
  • Feeling irritable or intolerant of others
  • No enjoyment from life
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Under/Over eating
  • Suicidal thoughts (in extreme cases)
  • Constant critical and painful thoughts/beliefs

If you already have Depression and don’t think much of yourself these symptoms combined with other people’s short sighted opinions are going to make you feel like you’re not good enough or you’re lazy/incapable blah blah blah. All these beliefs are entirely not true! It is not your fault you have these symptoms. You cannot ‘snap out of it’ just like you can’t snap out of Diabetes for example.

Exercise can help in many different ways including:

  • Giving you a sense of purpose
  • Improving mood
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Making you feel like you’ve accomplished something
  • Raising Serotonin and Dopamine levels making you feel good
  • Giving you more energy
  • Losing weight
  • Improving physical health
  • Improves self esteem
  • Improves concentration
  • Releases stress

The benefits are endless. Exercise in combination with the right Therapy treatment / Medication can work wonders! You’re attacking the illness from both sides.

 


 

Consistency:

‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’

Edward Hickson

 

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This is Alaska and I on our weekly run. I was exhausted by the end of it whilst she was barely out of breath. Keeping up exercise and healthy eating up is my Achilles Heal. I love healthy food but I also LOVE junk food! So yes I’m struggling to cut down at the moment. Reducing my Alcohol intake has definitely helped! When I have a glass of wine now I can literally feel the toxins going into my blood stream, and hangovers are just annoying and inconvenient.

Unfortunately there is no magical formula with healthy eating and exercise; although some fad diets will try and convince you there is.

Healthy Eating + Exercise = Healthy You.

You just have to figure out a way to make it work for you. I’ve realised if I don’t have someone to answer to I’ll be too lenient with myself! Luckily I’m 5ft 9 so any weight gain disperses evenly, which means if I am ‘over weight’ I can hide it as I’m stretched out. But I’m also curvy and put on weight easily; this is a cruel consequence of loving food.

Finding out what works for you and not everyone else is critical to keeping up a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t matter that one technique worked for everyone else in the world and it doesn’t for you. A friend of mine is obsessed with spinning and I hate it.

I’ve tried various weight loss groups and for me it didn’t work. You can lose weight quickly on them but for me I didn’t feel like it was a method I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. I’m lucky enough at this point in my life to be able to afford a Personal Trainer who I work with weekly. It helps to get me back on track as I was finding it particularly difficult to shape up this time. I know she’s watching my nutrition and progress so that makes me feel like I can’t misbehave as much.

 

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We work outside which really makes me feel good and just being with nature makes me feel happy. Her name is Kat and she’s a P.T at Hammersmith Fitness First, I think she’s great and really inspirational which helps! She’s really nice and encouraging which for me works best. I don’t believe in critical tactics as I think yes you can drive forward with a negative energy but in most cases sooner or later you breakdown and your achievements will ever be enough. Why put yourself through that abuse when you can get to the same position or further with positivity and encouragement? It seems redundant. Also I’m far too much of a rebel to be told what to do.

When I saw the way Kat worked it was the first time I saw kindness as a strength. Sometimes I think you need to see things in a physical form to really understand what it means. She’s financially reasonable as well so that helps maintenance and consistency. I feel like Kat really cares about helping me to be the best I can be, I’ve had bad experiences with trainers in the past and begrudged handing over my money. Also we’re going to concentrate on skill based exercises which takes my mind of the pain wall of exercising. I can’t wait to be able to do a headstand… maybe it’ll be a while before I’m at her level!!

 

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As we know comparison is deadly for self esteem. So I’ve really cut down from doing that. Instagram is especially is unhelpful. Yes you can get helpful  workout tips and tricks off there but wouldn’t it be more beneficial to get some Cardi B pumping in your earphones whilst you run your butt off? Going for a run = 300 kcal burnt / Looking on Instagram = 0 kcal burnt. I find the more energy you give to other people by obsessing over them, the less energy you have to make changes in your own life. Be the best YOU you can be, not the best her.

I’m logging everything I eat in an app called ‘Fitness pal’. It’s astonishing how much small things can completely ruin your hard work. As a perfectionist I’ve not really thought small changes can make much difference but they really can. My philosophy is everything or nothing at all. Which is unhelpful! I’m trying to change it! But in a way isn’t it a good thing? If a few biscuits can make a huge difference consistently over time, then making a small change like going for a short walk when you don’t feel great will make a huge difference consistently overtime.

You don’t have to live your life perfectly forever… it’s the ‘for the rest’ of my life’ bit that gets me! If you can be good most days I think that is enough, obviously you’re going to have down days, accept this is of the journey. Progress not perfection.

I also had the idea that I can get fit and healthy anytime I chose to (usually it was tomorrow). But actually it takes time to get to your personal best and then maintain it. You’ll never know what your body is capable of unless you get there. And results only come from being consistent.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post.

If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share with me please do let me know.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you would like to see more posts like this!

Warmest Regards

 

 

 

 

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