I feel like I’ve made a revelation of sorts recently. In fact, it’s one that’s so huge, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure it out. It seems like something I should have realized years ago, but somehow I missed the boat. It’s taken me almost twenty years to realize this:
Nutrition and exercise are directly related to mental health.
As I said, it seems so obvious that I can’t believe I never really saw or understood that before. I mean, sure I’ve read it and heard it, but it’s never hit home for me until now.
For me, losing weight was always about looking good. It was about trying to meet some kind of ideal of “healthy” and “thin” which I always, always linked with beautiful, sexy, successful. For years the desire to be those things was enough to make me want to lose weight. But something has shifted in my life and although I still want to be beautiful, sexy, and successful, those things in themselves don’t seem to be enough to motivate me to put in the hard work that it takes to lose weight and maintain it.
So I’ve been struggling. I haven’t been able to find the inspiration and the motivation to get back on the wagon. Terrible eating habits and nights on the couch in my PJs are my daily routine again.
Also part of my daily routine, especially at this time of year, are a major lack of motivation, incredible feelings of laziness, always, always feeling exhausted, and some feelings of anxiety, overwhelmness, and hopelessness. Not to mention headaches, bloating, gas and a multitude of digestive problems. Ugh.
Why did it take me so long to link the two?
For the first time, in my decades-long journey of weight loss, I have finally found a source of inspiration that I believe could be a real turning point in my life. It’s like a giant, golden light bulb has gone off and what I have been looking for for years, is suddenly here, loud and clear.
I have a new, and significant, reason to want to eat better and exercise. Because now I know that doing those two things will impact my life in ways I may have experienced but never really understood before. Fueling my body with healthy foods and exercising won’t just make me “skinny” and “self-confident”, it will directly impact my mental health and in essence, my overall life.
It will give me energy again. It will give me the fuel I need to make it through the day. It will alleviate my headaches and prevent me from feeling so tired by 4 p.m that I don’t want to do anything but bury myself under a blanket and never come out or cry. It will help to heal my digestive issues, build physical strength to prevent achy legs and hips, and take away the bloating and gas I so often deal with. It will improve my self-confidence and drive me to want to improve other areas of my life. It will fill me with positive self-talk and help me to be kinder, more gentle, and more patient with others – all things I want so desperately in my life but often don’t have the energy for.
I still can’t believe I never understood this before!
Many times my husband has told me that he thought I was “happier” during the few years in my life when I had met my goal weight, was working out like crazy, and eating on plan. For so long, I disagreed with him. I even wrongly perceived his comment. I took it as his way of saying that he prefers me to be skinny rather than overweight. I would shrug off his comment with the argument that I am just as happy now as I was back then.
But now I finally realize what he meant. It doesn’t mean that I am unhappy now. It’s just that the habits I had established then had such a direct impact on all aspects of my life. It’s that eating well and working out regularly affects you in so many ways that I didn’t even realize it. Yes, it’s possible to be happy without diet and exercise in your life, but it’s so much easier to be happy with those things.
For the last several months I have wallowed in self-pity and guilt. I have felt discouraged and was searching desperately for reasons to justify my lack of healthy eating and working out. And now I can so clearly see that all that was doing was bringing more negativity into my life.
So finally, finally, finally I feel like I have found my motivation again. I have always known that eating healthy foods and exercising is important but I just couldn’t find the inspiration to do it. Now that it is so obvious to me the direct impact they have on my mental health (and overall well-being) it doesn’t seem so daunting. And although a new year is just around the corner, and it’d be so easy to say I’ll just start then, this new reason to want to get healthy doesn’t seem like something that can wait. It needs to happen now. And I can’t wait to get started!