Therapeutic lifestyle changes to better mental health #2: Fitness

Updated: Feb 13

If you want to thrive then you can choose to thrive.

I thought to myself.. "If I were to come down with some horrible disease, could I find the time and money necessary to survive?"

My answer to this was "Yes, I would figure it out" I thought "Then why not find the time and money to invest into thriving, now?"

We don't always do all we can to thrive. That's because a lot of us are driven by "away from's" in life - meaning, focused on moving away from what you don't want (with attention being on what they don't want). Away from pain, away from disease, away from being broke, away from being unhealthy, away from a bad relationship, away from being unfit.

With this focus, we get a certain distance away from what we don't want, and then we find ourselves stagnating due to less motivation. Why? Because our motivation is gone. We have moved far enough "away from" what we don't want.

Rather than moving towards what we do want (with attention being on what we do want). Towards pleasure, towards wealth, towards health, towards a thriving sex filled, joyful, fulfilling relationship, towards being fitter then you need to be.

Now we have the motivation will stay until we get what we do want.

Surviving (away from what we don't want) vs Thriving (moving towards what we do want)

When we switch our focus to moving towards thriving, towards what we want, towards what we are truly capable of, then we will move far far beyond surviving.

Each week we have 168 hours. Just 2-3 hours of effort toward quality exercise each week and this positively affects every part of our life... From our mental health, to our careers, relationships, physical health, preventing disease, vascular ageing, anti-ageing, long term brain health, a better sex life for men & women, and everything in between.

When we exercise we flood our body with stress relieving, feel good chemicals, we enhance our stress resistance, sweat out the stressful load of toxins in our body, reduce depression and anxiety, improve our body shape, increase our energy levels and build our confidence.

An easy way to get started for beginners:

Grab a piece of paper and write a list of what exercises you can do. Examples: tennis, walking, boxing, strength training, strength training on upper body (because your knees are shot), swimming, etc. Now circle the exercises you really enjoy doing. Enjoying your exercise makes it sustainable and consistency requires sustainability.

Find a partner: Call anyone who you think might be interested in joining you and sell them on it. Having a training partner makes it more fun and a lot more likely you'll turn up.

It's easy to let ourselves down, but we are less likely to let a friend down.

Set 1-3 compelling, achievable goals with your training partner:

Go out together, have a coffee and plan out some compelling 12-week goals. Write the goals down in the present tense. Ex: "I am now a healthy weight of 75kg, down from 80kg." "I can now run 5k in 25 minutes". Make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, meaningful, measurable and time bound (achieved by date).

Set the process goals:

For example if your goal is "Healthy weight of 75kg, down from 80kg" then a process goal might look like eat only vegetables and lean meat for lunch and dinner for 5 days out of 7 days per week."

If the goal is "run a 5k in 25 minutes" then the process goals might look like "2 x runs per week and 1 x strength training session each week for 12 weeks".

Commit to 2-4 exercise days per week for 12 weeks. Re-structure your weeks to fit them in, do whatever you have to do to make it happen.

Do a weekly goal check in with your training partner: Set a day to check in and then celebrate the week. Eg: Wednesday evening, followed bye a nice dinner out together.

After the 12 weeks, you've achieved your goals, celebrate and begin the process again.

The easiest way to get started:

Use precommitment to reduct impulsivity. Locking ourselves into good decisions in advance.

Find a gym and personal trainer: Call a local gym and ask them for their best personal trainer.

Discuss with him/her a few achievable goals you would like to achieve, ask them if they would help you achieve your goals over 12 weeks and make it enjoyable for you.

Book and pay in advance: Pay the trainer for 12 weeks of 2-4 x 30-60 minute sessions per week in advance. A big commitment upfront will ensure you are fully invested and will turn up because you've paid already.

Create a structure: Structure the paid sessions into your weekly routine around other essentials and priorities. Getting it done first thing in the morning works for many, afternoon for others. Do what works best for you. Plan ahead to make it easy.

Don't think about it: You've committed to 12 weeks, now all you have to do it turn up. Let the trainer think for you and you just do the work they ask of you. After several weeks you will have begun to enjoy the process and you may even begin to really look forward to it.

Once you complete the 12 weeks your body and brain will have begun looking forward to exercising. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment from achieving the goals. You will have hit some goals, you might have missed some too, and it's all a part of the fun. Reflect on how good you did, take the learnings from where you could improve. Raise a glass in celebration, set some new goals and go again.

The above is a bit more costly but hey, this is your life and you can do what you want with it.

Plan it, build in the habits, create the systems, fall in love with the process, don't look back.

Good luck & enjoy the journey.


#bettermentalhealth #lifestylechanges #exercise #fitness

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