As a mental health professional, I have heard and seen exercise,healthy eating, and getting adequate sleep recommended for stress management, anxiety, and depression. I have even given this recommendation to clients on multiple occasions.
However, for so long, I did not practice this personally. In fact, I have had periods in time in which I have skipped meals, ate 2 meals worth in one setting, gone years without exercise, and have allowed myself to be sleep-deprived. I use to eat things that aggravated my digestive condition just because I liked the taste of them.
After experiencing a couple of significant wake up calls, I have made the choice to start practicing what I preach and do what I know I need to in order to maintain and improve my physical health. A few years ago after having multiple episodes of severe stomach pain resulting in passing out, I finally became determined to eliminate whatever necessary to avoid going through that pain again. I discovered lactose and gluten were triggers and I felt significantly better avoiding them. Another wake up call I had was when I walked a 5k last October, became short of breathe and had great difficulty just completing it. That made me realize that my endurance was not where it should be and it was due to a sedentary lifestyle. After a few months of debating with myself, I finally decided to try a local gym. It has been one of the best decisions I have made. I also noticed around the same time as the 5k that in spite of eating gluten free and low lactose that I still did not feel healthy, was starting to have more stomach pain again, and was low energy. My weight wasn’t all that high but I had gained some and my clothes had gotten tight. I got tested, found out I had a few food allergies including peanut butter, which was my main protein source at the time. I cut out peanuts and other allergens, started getting more protein from meat and decided to try to eat in a more healthy way in general.
I have noticed multiple benefits of my improved diet and use of exercise. My endurance has increased and I have slightly more energy. I have a sense of pride and accomplishment when I see that I can walk faster and further, stretch further, and fit back into my “skinny” pants. My mood seems to be slightly more upbeat as well. I feel like I am actually taking care of my body and taking care of myself in a more holistic way. Sometimes, I find myself actually enjoy walking briskly on a treadmill listening to Lacrae!
I have now started seeing for myself that taking care of your physical health can lead to more energy, improved confidence and self-esteem, improved mood, and provide mild enjoyment/pleasure!