Fitness Thursday: The Mindset of Health

Think your way to a healthier body.

How will Fitness Thursday help you? Health is the fourth and last pillar of a well-balanced life but packs a punch when it comes to your overall effectiveness.

When I was a teenager, I thought that health only referred to weight—how fat or skinny a person was. I could eat as much of whatever I wanted without gaining weight and mistakenly thought that meant I was healthy. I unknowingly built bad habits that were hard to break.

Over the last few years, I’ve come to understand that fitness is vital to mental well-being and productivity, especially as a parent, and is far more fun than just the number on the scale.

Each Thursday we’ll be discussing tips to become healthier, why you should, and how to beat the limiting mindsets that hold us back from being our best, healthiest selves.

I haven’t always had the healthiest mindset around fitness. A couple of years ago, I lost over 25 pounds in just six weeks. How is that unhealthy, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

We were doing a weight loss challenge at work, but I didn’t think much of it at the start. As it got going though, my competitive spirit kicked in, and I saw myself staying up in 1st or 2nd place most weeks.

As the competition wore on, my methods for losing weight became more detrimental to my overall health. I was cutting estimated calories down to around 1,200 per day, walking and exercising in every spare moment, and having almost no carbs at all.

On the last couple of days of the challenge, I followed a pattern I’d heard of wrestlers doing to lose weight. I dressed in as much clothing as possible, put a plastic bag on like a shirt, and ran in place in the bathroom next to the shower running on hot.

I sweat out 5-10 pounds in the last two days of the challenge and won.

But during and especially after the challenge, I wasn’t very mentally healthy.

I had a hard time concentrating and felt more easily angered. I hadn’t made the connection between physical and mental health yet, and I suffered for it.

When it was over, I ate far too much.

I wasn’t happy with my physical health or the mental state I was in about it. A few months later I found myself wanting to fix the problems, and found some great books on the subject. Thankfully, I’ve grown to have a more positive mindset about my body.

After a lot of thinking and research of my own, I’ve learned to keep in mind at least three important rules about physical health:

  1. While weight is an crucial factor in health, your mindset around food, exercise, and rest is more important than how much you weigh.

  2. Nutrition, fitness, and sleep are vital components to mental health as well as physical.

  3. Becoming healthy is more about finding and planning for the activities and foods that you like, rather than forcing yourself to do and eat what you hate.

It took me losing all that weight and gaining most of it back again before I realized my mistakes, learned, and improved myself to get to where I am today—healthier and happier about it than ever before.

And I won’t be doing any weight loss challenges anytime soon, either.

Actionable Advice: Make a list of the healthy foods you enjoy eating. Focus on natural, unprocessed foods, like carrots or apples, rather than pseudo-healthy foods like granola bars or fruit juice, both of which are surprisingly bad for you.

On your grocery list, switch an unhealthy snack with a healthy one that you enjoy eating. The more you eat that snack, the more you will enjoy it, and the better you will feel, mentally and physically.