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Which Comes First in Mind Body Fitness?
Mind body fitness. Which do you tackle first when you want to get fit? Do you tackle your eating habits or do you confront your mind habits that are steering you wrong? After spending many years struggling with both depression and obesity, I have concluded, at least as of now, that the most important factor to get under your control for mind body fitness, is your food.
Food for Mind Body Fitness?
I will explain why. Many times, our depression can be caused by circumstances which are just not under our control, for example by the actions or inactions of others. There is absolutely nothing you can do to force another person to think or act in a way that is comfortable for you. On the other hand, the food that you eat, is literally as powerful as any drug that we take over the counter or with a prescription. Perhaps not in the short term, but definitely in the long term.
Your food, you should and do have total control over your food. Nobody else is force feeding you. Once I started to get control over my food, once I started to feed my body more nourishing food, I noticed how my thinking started to change. My belief is that I was feeding my brain, my body, my cells, the nutrition that it needs to function effectively. I am confident that I function at a more optimal level when dinner was spinach and salmon, then when it is M&M’s and a hot dog.
Is it obvious? Not obvious enough, because many people who are struggling with depression, what do they do? They go to their shrink or their MD or to their social worker and engage in talk therapy, sometimes for hours, months and even years. Does that change the essential facts on the ground that they are depressed about? No. What can they do to feel better?
Oh, for that there is a slew of medications that can tranquilize the despondent soul. Medications like Effexor, Klonapin, Prozac, Neurontin, Seroquel, too many to mention. These medications typically leave the person feeling drugged with numerous side effects. And people who are in the pit of depression prefer that to their obsessive thinking on whatever events and circumstances that are driving their guilt and discomfort with themselves.
No question that food acts as a tranquilizer as well. Perhaps not everyone can relate, but for those of us who are familiar with the junk food high, the high after some pepperidge farm chocolate chip cookies or a big bowl of pasta, it is similar to the drugged state, at least for a certain amount of time. There is a calm, a euphoria, a medicated state, just from having good old processed junk food.
Discovery of Mind Body Fitness
I discovered, that once I started to fuel my body properly, over time my mind body fitness felt healed. The better I ate, and the harder I worked out, the calmer I became. The panic attacks and thrashing for answers subsided, the anxiety over events that I could not control dissipated, the depression over the loss of love and the pain of rejection started to dim in the light of feeling better, feeling stronger.
Did I take meds years ago? Yes. Was I prescribed medications to ‘treat’ depression? Yes. Did they help? If you call losing your career and family help, then you can say yes. But I do not. Can I pin all of the responsibility on these medications? You might say, no, everything that occurred was my fault, my responsibility. I agree in principle, that the bottom line is that I am responsible for what happens in my life. However, I am sure that the medications that I was being fed under the guise of helping to alleviate depression or vague purpose of taking the ‘edge’ off, did me no good. The first time that I took Zoloft, I could not sleep for three days, neither in the day or in the night. Could that help me in my job? I think not.
The times when I was using prozac and effexor, I remember being so tranquilized, that I had no reaction to when my boss at work would tell me that there was a major crisis. In the past, when I had my edge, I was all over any customer problems with our products, from morning till night, even for weeks, until they were addressed. Did taking the edge off, turning me into a zombie, under the pretense of having me absorb the traumas that were raining down on me, did they help me in my career? No way.
At night I would have nightmares. In the morning, I would wake up with the bed soaked under me from sweating, as if I was swimming in a pool of fear. One afternoon, while under another cocktail of medications, back in 2003, I remember walking past a mirror in my apartment and noticed that I was hearing a conversation. When I glanced, I saw that it was my reflection speaking to me.
That was it for me, I stopped taking those meds immediately, even against medical advice, because I could not take the side effects. Do I wish, that ten years ago, someone would take me under their wing and say “Ben, feed your body real food, do some hard workouts, I promise you that your tortured mind will heal”?
I sure do, and that is why I am writing this blog, not because I think the goal of life is to lose weight, or to have a flat stomach or to look ten or twenty years younger. No. The goal of life is the ability to live, to enjoy the freedoms that we have, the friends and family that we love, to give to others and most importantly, to be grateful for what we have. Because that gratitude always leads to feeling happy.
If even one person who is suffering from depression, who is contemplating ending their life, who is obsessing over traumas over which they have no control, if even one person reads what I have written, starts to eat real food and starts to move and workout, I am confident that there is a very good chance that you will improve your mind body fitness more than those drugs will every make you feel. You might even save yourself from losing your career due to over medication.
The Panacea to Depression?
Is this simple description the panacea to the world’s ills? No. I am just talking about the individual. The person who is suffering in their mind and trying to alleviate that pain with either sedatives or processed foods, and they cannot understand why it does not seem to work. All the drugs and food does is to tranquilize you, and when you wake up , you are still faced with confronting your demons.
So, there is another way, there is a way where you make your best effort, the strongest attempt to feed your body well and to physically move against opposition, like weights, and stop the mental exertion of trying to change the reality. The sky is blue, do not exhaust yourself wondering why it is not purple. It is not. Start to focus on changing yourself. Stop focusing on changing others.
Change yourself. Get control over yourself. Work hard. Eat healthy. Your mind and your thoughts will thank you for it. Change your body, change your mind, change your thoughts, change your feelings, change your experience of life, and once you are feeling better, you will be of greater service to yourself and others. I am not in a perfect place, but I am a work in progress, and grateful to where I have gotten up to this point and hope that sharing this simple, yet elusive treasure with others, will be of benefit to those who are seeking answers for mind body fitness.
What is your opinion? How to best treat depression, with meds, with food, working out? Do you have your own story to share of improving your mind body fitness? Please share.