Thanks to Andy Roberts of Breathe Australia for sharing this article.
We all know that a healthy body contributes towards creating a healthy mind, but it’s less well known that the mind can be our greatest asset or our greatest adversary as we aim to develop physical fitness.
“Cortisol, in general, is not an adversary in life — it’s an essential part of our defence mechanism. The problems with cortisol begin when there’s too much for too long”
Earlier I wrote about how we can create great mental fitness by harnessing the power of the mind. This follow-up article will empower you to help take your training to a new level.
The ups and downs of life
We all feel flat some days. It’s normal. Life can be really challenging and how resilient we are to the downs will affect our physical and mental wellbeing. When we are faced with stressful situations the body produces adrenalin, cortisol and a flurry of other hormones. These help us energise body and mind and help us rise up to challenges.
It’s important to understand that cortisol, in general, is not an adversary in life — it’s an essential part of our defence mechanism. The problems with cortisol begin when there’s too much for too long. When cortisol levels become elevated over prolonged periods, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin in the blood) result, which leads to easier weight gain. It also leads to the degradation of muscle mass, which slows down your metabolism and sets the stage for various health problems.
“By understanding how to focus my attention on the things in life that enabled me to thrive, I built more resilience against inevitable life challenges”
In 2005 I was lucky to take a masters degree in positive psychology. I combined my studies with my health and fitness background and was able to apply positive psychology to my fitness regime. By understanding how to focus my attention on the things in life that enabled me to thrive, I built more resilience against inevitable life challenges.
“Mental resilience didn’t mean that I felt good all the time. It meant being open to emotions and those of the people around us”
I was also lucky to study meditation and mindfulness. Countless studies have demonstrated the link between meditation and reduced stress levels. Through a combination of positive psychology tools and meditation I was able to keep a handle on my base line cortisol levels and hence keep to a healthy weight and create the right conditions for muscle growth.
How I developed mental resilience
To be able to track how fit and healthy I was during this period, and eventually others, I needed to develop a tool. So I created a 360-degree wellbeing check-up.
Through this system, I was really pleased to discover that via a combination of swimming, resistance training, positive psychology, yoga and meditation I had really good health statistics: At 47 years old I had a body fat percentage of 8%, resting heart rate in the athletic range for a 20-year-old, and a normal blood pressure measurement.
But I also felt mentally resilient as well. Mental resilience didn’t mean that I felt good all the time. It meant being open to emotions and those of the people around me. Resilience also means accepting that there will be tough times and not to run away from negative thoughts and feelings — they are there for a reason and we need to be aware of their messages sometimes. Being resilient also means knowing when to admit vulnerability and ask for help. Admitting vulnerability can be the greatest of our strengths.
About our 360-degree wellbeing check-up
I am now widely implementing the 360-degree wellbeing check-up and healthy habits program in Australia with the aim of helping people to build greater physical fitness and master mental resilience.
In our first session we take physical measurements, which include your resting heart rate, blood pressure, body fat percentage, hydration levels and your grip strength. We then compare these results to the recommended levels for your age and gender.
“Creating new healthy habits requires all of us to have heightened self-awareness and also an acceptance that changing engrained behaviours is a real challenge”
We also ask questions about stress levels, lifestyle habits, exercise and nutrition, engagement at work and general wellbeing. Based on these responses and your physical and mental fitness goals, we tailor a four-week healthy habits lifestyle program for you. The first session takes between 75 and 90 minutes to complete. You will leave our first session with a clear picture of your wellbeing and how to introduce powerful positive changes to enable you optimise your physical and mental wellbeing.
At the end of our session you will be given our assessment report and healthy habits lifestyle plan.
How to create those new healthy habits
The lifestyle changes that we recommend are simple and should easily fit in with your work and home life. Habits are often hard to change and can be deeply embedded. Our experience is that if you practice new things for at least 21 days they are likely to become new healthy habits. The easier the new routines are and the quicker you observe the benefit, the more likely it is that new healthy habits will become engrained.
We work with you to identify 20 new positive habits into your life. We recognise that 20 is a big number and, between us, we identify up to five of the most important of these that you commit to.
Our challenge to you is to commit to these five small changes each day for four weeks (just 28 days). We know that there will be days where you simply can’t do some of these things. We ask you to study these recommendations and commit to abide by them every day.
Don’t worry; we won’t be judgmental or lecturing. Creating new healthy habits requires all of us to have heightened self-awareness and also an acceptance that changing engrained behaviours is a real challenge. Having said that, positive changes can happen through education, optimism and tenacity.
Andy is offering Goers an exclusive discount on the program. Normally the 360 degree wellbeing survey, two hours of positive psychology resilience coaching and a tailored healthy habits plan is $300, but he’s offering a two for the price of one so that you and a buddy can both experience the benefits.
Just find a friend, family member or colleague and you can both do the program for half price. When you order just mention on the booking form that you are a Goer or call Andy on 0467 225 241 for more information.