Exercise, Learning and Making the Mind Stronger.
It has been a while since I have written something and I thought I’d talk about how my mindset and learning capabilities have changed since I was at my biggest. At the time I was pretty depressed and felt as though I had no prospects and nothing going for me. My immune system wasn’t very strong and when I did eventually spend a week in the hospital because of my appendix the doctors were reluctant to let me leave because my blood pressure was just way too high. I think it was at that time that I got the virus which caused me to develop shingles, but it didn’t manifest itself until my body and mind were at their weakest, a few weeks after being in the hospital and the medication had all worn off. Although my physical health was poor my mental state was even worse. I had managed to find myself addicted to current affairs and news websites, I was subscribed to YouTube channels that discussed current affairs and I just remember how angry the ‘presenters’ were - heck they probably still are. I got sucked into thinking about how ‘bad’ things were the whole time and because I was sick, overweight and relatively broke it meant that my mind couldn’t cope with it. I believe, although this hasn’t been proved, that it was the reason for the breakout of the shingles in the first place. I felt like the world was a really dark and terrible place and that nothing good was happening around me. It is very rare that you tune into a news channel, read a news story and come out feeling positive about the world around you. Deep down I hoped that things in my life and the world would change, but I wasn’t doing anything to bring that change about.
Fast forward to when I had managed to fix my diet. I was doing positive things each day: exercise, reading and learning about my body and my diet. The chemistry in my body was (and is now) on point; my cells at the time were being fixed by the nutrients that I was putting into them. The exercise that I was doing helped me become more and more confident each day. The biggest change that I made was that I stopped following the news, I removed the apps from my phone and I deleted the subscriptions to the negative channels on YouTube. I started to look for apps and YouTube channels that promote positivity. I slowly started to build a network of positive energy around me by interacting with other positive people. It was and is all part of the healing process and it eventually led to me developing this blog.
Even today I rarely follow current events, I read snippets to keep up to date, but I keep my distance because there are only problems presented to you when you read or watch the news, never any solutions. Over the last year and a half I have completed various fitness programs: Insanity (60 days of crazy fitness), Insanity Asylum Vol.1 (30 days of intense athletic training) and P90X3 (90 days of a mix between Calisthenics, Yoga, Pilates and Mixed Martial Arts.) I have done each program more than once. I started with home fitness because I was very self-conscious, stepping into a gym was not something that I was willing to do.
Despite the physical changes that I have felt and seen, the biggest change for me has been in my mental approach to life. Sticking to a fitness program for a specific length of time has driven me into a new routine and one that produces positive results each day. There is nothing negative that can come from a workout, okay well there is injury, but if you have a good program written by a good trainer and you stick to it the chances are that you won’t hurt yourself. Even if you have a day in the gym or at home where your workout isn’t great it is still progress and it is still a positive feeling of accomplishment. I have had plenty of days where I wasn’t on point but I still walked away feeling accomplished.
Lately I find that most of my ideas for my personal progress come to me whilst doing exercise or just after a really good workout. When the serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine levels are increased it feels as though I have absolute clarity in my thoughts and that has led me to develop fantastic concepts and ideas whilst in the middle of a workout. I write them down as soon as I can. Once an idea has been written down then the seed is planted and who knows what will grow from it. When we move our body we are doing what it was designed to do and we begin to thrive.
I recently read a book called, ‘Spark! How exercise will improve the performance of your brain.’
It has led me to putting this post together, simply because I can draw so many parallels between myself and the people mentioned in the book. The authors talk about studies that have taken place in schools in America where good exercise introduced ahead of morning classes has resulted in more teamwork, better attention spans and raised the levels of self-confidence in children. Their reading and comprehension rates have increased by up to 17%; all down to some decent blood pumping exercise in the morning.
Over the last 6 months I have learned more, read more books and achieved some serious progress in my overall goals because I have had the ability to draw on the confidence I have built in myself; not to mention that my memory has improved and… I can’t remember what I was going to say…. Ha-ha just kidding, and my thought processes have sped up. I am much better at problem solving than I used to be. I would almost go as far as to say that I have seen more personal development in myself over the last year than I ever saw in my high school years. This didn’t just happen overnight, it came through consistent effort in my workouts and through cultivating my interests. So there is intrinsic motivation at play, but I wouldn’t have that motivation if I hadn’t got myself moving in the first place.
With that in mind imagine how much potential is locked up inside of the average office worker who doesn’t manage to get the right exercise each day. Imagine how much that 17% could help them out; imagine how much that 17% might be able to help you out. Exercise and fitness makes you stronger and when you feel stronger; when the body is strong then your mind is too. What exercise can offer is the chance to take the stress that builds during the day in our offices and channel it out of our systems. Getting rid of that stress is like clearing a path for good ideas and positive thoughts to come flooding into your body.
As I have said before, it all starts with a little self-belief and developing consistency, those two things can help you achieve great things by unlocking your potential. Don’t wait for tomorrow though, start now. Here’s what I did, I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper, I set aside any doubt in my mind and wrote down a list of ten goals that I want to achieve in the next year, it didn’t matter to me how big or small, I just wrote ten things that I really want. After that I set a reminder in my calendar to read it every morning before doing anything else. Over the past month I have been able to develop those goals in my mind during exercise, so when I go for a walk during my day, or when I am jumping up and down in a crazy workout I let my mind wander a little bit towards the goals that I have set. Slowly but surely I have started to see improvements in my productivity and huge improvement on my goals, ideas that are starting to make them a reality. What I have been able to create is a flow state for myself where ideas can grow. I strongly recommend you try this out, it only takes 10 minutes out of your day to read through your goals and requires no effort to let your mind drift to them when you do exercise, you just never know where your goals will lead you. What exercise and eating right has helped me realise is that I could sit all day and watch TV, read the news and be faced with mounting problems that I can hope get fixed; or I could get up move and become better at changing things myself.
Brendon Burchard wrote something that really resonates with me, ‘Let us not hope for mere chance to change our story; let us summon the courage to change it ourselves.’
Have a wonderful day, stay strong and keep moving.
Take care for now, B