Hello! Happy November, sorry for writing so sporadically, my goal sheet is pretty long these days, and unfortunately, this blog has been sitting on the back burner. However, now as I sit with a 15-page paper that needs writing, I decide it’s the perfect time to pop in and tell you what’s on my mind.
For those that do not know, I am currently getting my masters in social work so I can be a mental health expert as well as a nutrition expert. With these two worlds colliding, the paradox between mental health and physical health is something I wrestle with a lot.
What does that mean?
Often making a change to have a healthier body leads to a healthier mental state right? Losing weight can lead to more confidence, higher self-esteem, more energy, less stigma, and more self-efficacy to reach other goals in life. We feel more empowered and generally happier right? For some people, the stakes are even more significant, losing the next 10 pounds may mean reversing a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or lowering blood pressure. We think if we can just lose the next 5 pounds or if we can just get some more gains (trying to act like I’m up with the fitness world) we’ll be happier.
The answer is it depends. Your weight, muscle tone or body size is not what actually makes you happy. It’s not the results that make you feel good, but what those results symbolize in your journey. Maybe you’re happy because you worked hard to reach a goal, you have a new found control, you’re being a positive role model to loved ones, you have energy again, or you’re happier with the way your clothes fit. It can be a number of things, but I promise you the physical benefits alone are not your happiness. If you are striving to improve your body to numb other emotions or gain control in one area of your life because it’s deficient in another, you may be making yourself sick.
What I am learning floating between worlds is that mental health always comes first. Not necessarily in a chronological way, we don’t always have to be happy and in a good mental place to start exercising and eating healthier. Not at all, doing these things is part of the journey to self-love. What I mean is that mental health is the priority, always. There must be a balance between your mental health and physical health but when you find yourself on a tight rope and need to fall one way or the other, fall to the side of your mental health. Choose getting enough sleep over getting an extra workout, choose a meal out with family and friends over strict diet rules, run to lose stress, not pounds, deal with your emotions and life struggles instead of eating or exercising them away, and pay attention to your thoughts. Make sure that when you think about your body and everything you put it through, your thoughts are of gratitude instead of shame.
“Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.” – Lisa M. Hayes