Joel Peterson, Personal Trainer

Dealing with Stress

Joel Peterson – Level 5 Personal Trainer Apple Athletic Club

While watching a video of very healthy individuals age 80 and beyond, my mind was caught by two particular comments. First was “good health is your best earthly blessing” and second “I believe happiness is a decision – not a circumstance”. While it may be debatable if good health is our best earthly blessing it certainly is in the top three in anybody’s book. I remember a quote by Abraham Lincoln that goes, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”. I agree.

I’ve known people who have almost everything and are miserable. I also have known people who have very little and are happy. Why mention this? Stress. Can you think of anything more anti-stress than inner peace and contentment – even in the midst of turmoil?

Stress is a body killer and an enemy of happiness. I know from experience and research that people who engage in ongoing and directional exercise experience much less stress that sedentary folks. All of us experience stress of varying degrees throughout life. That’s unavoidable. But how we deal with it marks both the effects of stress on our bodies and minds. What I’m saying to you is if you are looking for the best remedy to “anti-stress” it’s hard to beat good old physical activity. Even taking a 30 minute stroll down the avenue or a country road can, and does, have a cathartic effect on our minds and body. It’s also hard to beat swimming as a stress reliever, especially if you feel “shut in” or isolated. A community or club pool can be a happy social place to be when those old blues start creeping in.

I can give you dozens of good reasons to exercise but stress relief is hard to beat as the number one reason to engage in it. Stress is harmful to our bodies in so many ways it only makes sense. If we can’t remove the object of the stress we can counter it by negating many of its detrimental effects. We’ve given you many suggestions in these posts on how to exercise in almost any circumstance or place, and we’ll continue to help you along as we progress.

Smiling helps you deal with stress

Another huge consideration in fighting stress is in our diet and nutrition. Many of us, when feeling pressured or stressed out turn to the worst foods for what we believe is comfort. You know, the “comfort foods”, which are usually sweet, salty and fatty. In other words “junk food”. Last week’s post was just on that subject, and if you haven’t read it please go back and give it a good read. Even though these foods may bring a temporary respite, in the long run they can, and will, exacerbate the stress. Why? Simple. A strong and well-nourished body and mind helps keep stress under control. A body weakened by what I term as “food abuse” cannot hold up well under stress and therefore worsens the condition.

Now I need to say this again: perfection in diet is impossible. Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting it of yourself. Look at it this way. If you’re used to eating three lousy, processed meals a day and for now you only change one of those meals to real, honest healthy foods you just took a whopping one third jump toward better health and eating habits. Come on now, who can’t do that for our own wellbeing. Maybe one day soon you will make that two meals, which takes you to two thirds of a healthy diet. Just that alone can make a major difference in how you feel, not to mention you will most likely be losing weight. If you’re also engaging in an exercise program you are gaining lean muscle and losing body fat. Wow! Imagine yourself gaining or re-gaining that youthful energy and glow, not to mention how you will feel about yourself.

I’ve found it’s hard to feel sorry for myself when I, well, just feel good. Do you remember what it’s like to feel good? To feel young and energetic? C’mon world, show me ya’ got attitude. If you’ve forgotten what that feels like, I have good news for you. Start this wonderful journey with us and be persistent. I promise you that one day you will look back and say “that was one of the best and most important decisions I ever made in my life”.
What do you have to lose? Only unwanted weight and stress, right?

See you next week.

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