Exercise can ease depression or anxiety by giving you a mood boost, a feeling of control and/or serving as a complement to prescriptions. Here’s how:
- Exercise provides a distraction from troubling thoughts. When your mind is racing it can feel like you are trapped in a painful thought spiral. Getting active can interrupt this spiral by shifting your focus from your mind to your body in motion.
- Exercise gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Many things that happen throughout the day feel like they are beyond our control. Deciding to head for the gym or for a walk around the block provides a positive focus with immediate positive feedback. You benefit from pride in making and keeping a promise to yourself as well as the mood boost of being active.
- A Harvard Health Publications article titled, Exercise and Depression asserts that regular exercise improves mood in people with mild to moderate depression. Researchers believe this is because exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that impart a feel good effect as they course through the body. You may be able to reduce symptoms of depression with just a 35 minute walk, 5 days a week.
- Exercise may also offer some people alternative or complementary options for managing anxiety and insomnia.
If you are looking for a fun way to boost mood, banish depression and ease anxiety, exercise is it. Countless studies have shown that exercise is like medicine. Use it as your personal prescription to not only look your best but to feel your best, too.
So the scale has stopped moving. You are beginning to imagine that you can feel the pounds creeping back on. That initial feeling of pride and excitement is fading and discouragement may even be settling in. What’s a weight loss warrior – (and sometimes weight loss worrier) to do? Extend your exercise plan to include your body and your mind. This is a crucial period in your weight loss program. The way your body uses and stores energy (i.e. food/calories) is changing, so you will have to make some changes, too. Your attitude will be what keeps you moving forward when you don’t have the reward of watching the numbers on the scale drop. You can push past this plateau by staying positive and using the following tips.
Celebrate your accomplishments
Sure you wanted the weight off yesterday, but weight loss takes time and patience. Give yourself credit for what you have been able to accomplish so far. You are making important lifestyle changes that will serve you well for years to come. The rewards are not only in the weight loss but also in the daily choices you are making to improve the quality of your health. Good job!
Revisit your commitment
What is your motivation for losing weight? How will your life be different when you have reached your goal? Staying focused on where you are going can make getting there easier – even when there are challenges.
Keep a food diary
Most of us have a tendency to underestimate food portions and caloric intake. In other words, we eat more than we think we do. Keeping a food diary can help keep you honest by making you more aware of what you eat, including mindless eating. Write down every single piece of food you put in your mouth because every bite counts. Since your metabolism is changing you may need to further reduce your caloric intake to push past the plateau. Let technology help. There are a number of easy to use apps that can help you track meals and calories at home or on the go.
Change your exercise plan
To push past the weight loss plateau you will have to outsmart your body in its quest to maintain the status quo. What does that mean? At the same time you are working to change your body, it is trying to stay where it is most familiar. Move past the plateau by shaking up your exercise plan. The old weight loss formula still holds mostly true – move more and take in fewer calories. Now, not only will you need to take in fewer calories you will need to move more and move differently. Bodies quickly adapt to exercise routines, which can reduce the level of exertion and calories burned. Burn past weight loss road blocks by varying your workout; for example, if you have been walking, walk faster or jog for several 30-60 second intervals. You may also want to add a day (4 days instead of 3) or a new activity (spin class or aerobics) to your weight loss plan.
You are on the right path. Be careful not to let this temporary stumbling block knock you off the weight loss wagon. Continue with your exercise plan and healthy eating habits. Be sure to get adequate rest and drink plenty of water. Avoid comforting yourself with high calorie foods. Remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place. You aren’t just losing weight; you are also losing old habits and old ways of thinking. Time and patience are required. Hang in there.
You don’t have to be a size two to cut your risk of diabetes or to be healthier. According to John Hopkins Medicine losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58% . That is only 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200. Go ahead and get started on your fitness plan. Exercise is a great way to practice self care because it feels good and it is good for you.
Start by setting small goals
You have probably heard the expression – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Why not make fitness a part of your journey toward wellness? Think of health changes such as losing weight and inches or committing to a self care fitness plan as points along the journey. Establish mile markers along the way to keep yourself feeling encouraged. Here are some examples:
- I will start my exercise program on August 1 and exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes for the next four weeks.
- I will lose five pounds in the next four weeks.
- I will lose three inches in the next four weeks.
- I will be able to run for 30 seconds without stopping by September 1
Although your overall goal may be to lose twenty pounds you are more likely to be successful if you set smaller goals along the way. Setting incremental goals keeps you encouraged because you give yourself the opportunity to see results and experience success quickly. You are also more likely to stick with your plan, which means you develop trust in yourself about doing what you say you will do. Use the feeling of being successful to motivate yourself to keep going or push even more. Before you know it your doctor will say you are safely out of the danger zone.