Health is way more than getting sufficient exercise and eating the right types of food. This really comes down to the fact that your body and your mind are an intricately linked system which interact in a multitude of bio-chemical reactions every day. So, you don’t just want to be healthy (i.e. disease free), you want to actively work on your wellbeing… and this is where your mindset comes in!
The moment your mind is not engaged correctly in eating bland salads and going to the gym for intense workouts your body stops working optimally. When I say here that your mind is not ‘engaged correctly’, I mean all those times when you choose the bland salad over vegetable lasagne (the latter has too much fat and contains dairy) despite craving something warm and heavy, eat a piece of cake feeling guilty (the calories!) and not enjoying it at all despite spending time with your friend in a cafe or doing a 90 minute high intensity exercise session that you are pushing through because you feel you have to make up for said piece of cake (driving up your stress response to record highs).
Now, a bland salad may be nutritious and healthy and high intensity exercise sessions are super efficient in getting you fit, but being in the wrong mindset can offset all those ‘healthy’ choices you have made for your lifestyle.
Think about it from this perspective:
- How can your body de-stress if you are only running to burn calories and you are forcing yourself to do it?
- How can your body find its best expression of itself (i.e. the weight and shape that ideally suits it) if it gets insufficient nutrients from your restrictive diet?
- How can your body digest that piece of cake adequately if that part of the nervous system is engaged which is not supportive of our digestive system?
All that you are achieving by ‘doing everything right’ is really the opposite of what you are hoping for: your body switches on the stress response and is bracing to fight or flight. Instead of resources being allocated to healing, repairing or maintaining body tissue, these resources are now being used to create excess insulin and cortisol.
Continuously elevated insulin and cortisol hormone levels over days to weeks affect your sleep, mood and your appetite control due to a knock on effect on other hormonal pathways in your body. Energy decreases and you find your memory is not quite up to its usual standard. If you are an emotional eater, you’ll likely find yourself snacking on sugary snacks or binging on other easily available sources of energy. In the long term, insulin and cortisol also contribute towards weight gain, inability to lose weight and inability to build muscle over time. Interlinked with all of these issues are inflammation, digestive problems and diabetes.
So if you find yourself stressing about food and exercise on top of your stressful job or role as young mother or father, you are literally shutting your metabolism down despite trying so very hard to do everything right.
That’s why when it comes to moving towards better health, we need to start working on our mindset and our self. Only then can we transform the relationship we have with ourselves and with food to elevate our health and wellbeing to previously unachieved levels!
So, let me ask you: how do you show up in the world? Are you being true to yourself when it comes to food, exercise and mindset or are you living in a set of restrictions and limitations of what you are allowing yourself to do and who you are allowing yourself to be?