It is common for most people to desire losing weight and being physically fit, especially as a New Year’s Resolution. However, recent studies have found that physical fitness is not as important as mental fitness. Yes, a person must first have his or her mental fitness evaluated in order to achieve physical fitness. People who do not have a history of a mental illness are not excluded from regularly exercising the mind.
Mental health is more important because motivation and dedication to lose weight starts in the mind. A person must convince him or herself that losing weight is a realistic goal that can be attained through hard work. According to Zandra Zimmerman, a counselor at Mountain View Wellness Center in Vancouver, Canada, “thoughts matter because every thought is followed by a molecule.” The reason “thoughts matter” is because it’s highly possible a person can have a negative and pessimistic view of oneself. A negative perception can result in low morale, depression and anxiety. On the other hand, an optimistic view of goals and accomplishments can motivate a person to strive to do better.
Though studies have shown that physical fitness is not as important as mental fitness, nutrition can play a major role in improving your mental health. Nutrition is a factor to include in improving mental fitness. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products all contain healthy ingredients to not only improve a person’s cardiovascular and immune systems, but also feed the brain nutrients needed to function. The meat group is also included in the popular food pyramid for eating healthy. Experts have proven that fish is essential in increasing brain activity and improving mental health because it contains fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids to help the brain increase cognitive and mental fitness. In case an allergic reaction to fish occurs or it cannot be eaten, please consult a doctor for other alternatives.
In addition to nutrition, there are other ways to develop mental fitness, including:
- Improve sleeping habits by getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid excessively drinking alcohol.
- Begin to have an optimistic view of life and goals. If necessary, a counselor or psychologist can assist in obtaining a positive outlook.
- Not everyone will be happy and supportive of optimistic people with goals, so choose friends wisely.
- Set realistic goals. If person aims too high then later realize the goal is unattainable, this can result in depression, lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem.
- Believe and have self-confidence in abilities to achieve goals.
- Reduce stress by practicing meditation, prayer, deep breathing exercises and talking to close friends and family.
It is highly possible for a person to improve mental fitness than physical fitness, for the latter is not as important as having confidence and high self-esteem. Once mental fitness is achieved, then a desire for physical fitness becomes reality. Experts say that exercise releases endorphins in the body and causes good chemicals such as serotonin to discharge to the brain. Therefore, the good chemicals affect your mood and outlook on life.
By Bridget Cunningham