The thing about personal training – for the body – is that you can see the results. It makes it a lot easier to quantify. But – what if we focused on our minds more, and the positive benefits to the body then followed?
What I’m trying to say is that we’re always striving for a better body, to lose weight or to gain muscle. We spend an inordinate amount of money on gym memberships. Did you know, 1 in 7 of us in the UK are gym members? The total market value is 4.7 billion, up 6.3% from 2016. And that is great. I love that people are getting progressively active.
What I do wonder, however, is why don’t we invest in our minds in the same way?
There’s an element of fear around being thin and working out. The NHS suggests we do 150 minutes of cardio-based exercise per week (walking or cycling) and 2 hours of strength-based exercises per week. There are also different combinations of exercises on the NHS website.
This advice is ultimately to avoid the health risks involved in being overweight. And there are a lot of them, from diabetes to sleep apnea. So, you can see how the country has a preoccupation with exercising and being healthy.
But what about our mind? Did you know that suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 in the UK? And, that 1 person in 15 has made a suicide attempt at some point in their lives?
We spend so much time obsessing over our weight and our fitness level, that we miss the elephant in the room. Exercise does increase endorphins, yes, but if you find yourself suffering from mental health issues, exercise is one of the many things you can do to help yourself.
So, let’s give a little more attention to the brain this month, and see if the body follows suit…
The NHS suggests a brisk walk as one if its healthy living recommendations. Walking is also great for the mind. Physically active people have a 30% reduced risk of being depressed, so don’t use this post as an excuse to flop onto the sofa. Exercise is a very key part of our mind personal training.
Get out and about – but try to do it for your mind, rather than your body. How is that possible? I hear you ask. It’s simple. Use these three simple tips:
- Don’t take your phone. If you want to take it just to be safe, keep it in your pocket and don’t get it out unless there’s an emergency.
- Spend time looking around you. Look at the sky, the way the flowers are looking at this time of year. Smell the scent in the air (perhaps you’re going past a house at dinner time and you can smell the faint smell of a home-cooked meal or the smell of washing powder). Don’t think about ANYTHING other than your surroundings. This isn’t a time for your brain to put the world to rights, it’s a time for your brain to relax.
- Do this 5 times per week. Even if you’re only going out for ten minutes, use this time to let your brain escape from all its worries or concerns. You’ll soon find that your mind looks forward to that time out.
I’m sure you can see how a lack of sleep affects your mind, but did you know it also affects weight loss? The two are more closely intertwined than you might think.
Lack of sleep dulls the activity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is where your decisions are made. In fact, the feeling of tiredness to the frontal lobe is very similar to the feeling of being drunk; it enables your bad decisions.
But today, we’re focusing on the mind. It’s important to remember that sleep is the brain’s nutrition. So, this month let’s work on these three simple steps to ensure you’re getting between 7-9 hours per night. A little caveat to this; if you’ve got young children, I know this isn’t going to be possible, so instead work on trying out these three steps and seeing how they help your individual situation:
- Don’t drink tea or coffee three hours before bed. As somebody who gets 7-9 hours every night, whenever I have caffeine before I bed, I notice it takes me a lot longer to get to sleep.
- Read for half an hour before you sleep. Wind your brain down from thinking about everything going on in life.
- Whenever your brain goes off on a tangent, simply bring it back to centre and say to yourself ‘I can think about this tomorrow.’ Problems always seem worse at night.
Yoga is extremely good for the body, there’s no denying that. But, yoga is probably one of the only workout classes out there that focuses equally on the mind, too. Whenever I exercise, generally, I find my worries evaporate, but, when I practice yoga, my problems actually resolve themselves in my mind – without me even considering them.
Yoga helps you feel your body. I know that sounds a bit rah, but during the practice you will stretch every muscle. You’ll leave feeling so much more centred and calm about everything in your life.
As my personal challenge for February, I’ve decided to try doing Yoga With Adrienne’s 30 Day Yoga Journey. I’ll let you know how I get on at the end of the month.
I’m all for pushing yourself, but you’ve got to be aware of your limits. Awareness of your limits in all areas of your life is something that will put you in good stead. When you go to the gym for the first time, you don’t just stick two huge weights on the bar and expect to lift it. So why do you try to do that to your brain?
Sticking two big weights on the bar is much the same as giving yourself too many tasks to complete. Imagine now, going to the gym, expecting to and then failing to lift an impossibly heavy weight and then berating yourself when you don’t achieve that impossible goal. Do you see what I’m getting at?
If you give yourself too much to do and then give yourself the hardest of times for not completing said to do list, you’ll soon find yourself feeling unhappy and demotivated.
Knowing your limits; both in and out of the gym will ultimately improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Personal trainers often say they’d prefer somebody to just lift the bar using the right technique than break their back with heavy weights and an awful technique.
This week, try ‘lifting the bar’ (i.e. giving yourself manageable daily tasks) and praise yourself for your accomplishments, however small.
If It’s Not For You, Let It Pass Through
This is the most important lesson I’ve learnt since creating this mind personal training plan. I’m going to stick to the gym analogy because I think it’s quite accurate. Everyone who walks through the door of a gym has a different reason for being there; to lose weight, to tone, to relax, to work on their arms, their legs etc.
This is the same with life. No two people have the same path. So, why is it when somebody you don’t know on Instagram gets an incredible opportunity, you feel resentment about it?
Your path is laden with opportunities. Just because yours don’t happen on the same day as somebody else’s doesn’t mean they’re not ever going to happen.
Let’s also focus on not judging other people’s paths. I don’t like that people get judged so much for their decisions. Ultimately, they’re making decisions with good intentions, so don’t be so quick to judge what you don’t deem as right for you. Remember the saying ‘good for you, not for me’.
Mind Personal Training
Would you like me to cover more mind personal training topics? Please comment below with certain aspects of the mind you struggle with and I’d be happy – if I can – to help!