"It's the mind,
who builds the body."
- Friedrich Schiller -
With the mind you build your body. Both are needed equally. Mind and body form a synergy. Through physical activity you can increase your mental abilities and discipline. The way you take care of yourself and your body will also improve. A lot of diseases can be reduced or even avoided completely by a physical activity. I would like to show you not only the advantages of sports and exercise, but also how you can go beyond your limits, both physical and mental, in order to become better than you have been so far.
Misconceptions and role models
It's simply wrong to believe that every person, male or female, needs a six-pack and/or look like a top model. We take a look at magazines or Instagram for example and there they are. Thousands of super happy and good looking people. It's automatically suggested to you that your look and your life are not very special. You put yourself under pressure to keep up with these "great" people. Reject that. Right into your mental trash can.
Role models should not be used, to become like them. That would be a self-denial. You should always be yourself and not try to pretend to be someone else. The goal should be to improve yourself, not to copy someone. But what you should acquire, are the characteristics and methods of these role models in order to achieve your desired goals.
That means that if you want to have a certain body and you have made it your goal to reach it, then it will probably be of little use to sit there and just look at pictures of people with dream bodies. You have to rather ask yourself, HOW did they achieve these things. What are their hints and tricks. This is not only applicable to the body, but to every area. So if you want to have more money, you should learn the methods of role models in the financial industry. And so on and so forth. Books are a reliable source.
"mens sana in corpore sano"
A very classical and probably well-known saying. I myself like to use it, because I too am of the opinion that a healthy mind and a healthy body should work together in an optimal way, but there is also a mistake. The Roman satirist Juvenal wrote something more than just this sentence. The full meaning is:
"...orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano."
Translation: "Pray for mental and physical health"
Here was meant that the Romans of that time should not simply send meaningless prayers to the gods, but should only ask for mental and physical health. Therefore the sentence is understood a little differently.
Another fact is that not everyone has the opportunity to have a healthy body. Let us take the astrophysicist Stephen Hawking as an example. He was far more than just a little bit physically handicapped, yet the brilliance of his mind increased immensely. But I hope for your sake that you are physically healthy. But even if you are not, you can improve a lot through exercise. It never has to be an extreme sport. The main thing is movement. Until it is no longer physically possible.
The correct point of view
A really correct view is, of course, left to each individual and varies from person to person. But if you notice that it is a purely negative idea or one that triggers negative feelings, then you can safely part with it. You should assume that you want the best for yourself. And the best for you does not necessarily have to be a six-pack or something similar. The best thing for you should be a healthy body with a healthy mind. You have to work on both.
Some people may not consider it necessary to move and may not pay much attention to their appearance. This is OK, but it is certainly not healthy. Neither for self-confidence, nor for the actual condition of the body. No matter how brilliant your mind may be, it still rests in your body. You cannot separate the two. So if you disregard your body, you are neglecting yourself.
Your mind or soul needs your body to live. Your whole YOU is held in it and is only viable through it. Without oxygen from the lungs and blood in the brain from the beating of the heart, you could be as brilliant as you like, but that would be of no use. So why let the only place you have to live slowly decay?
You can't stop aging. At least for now. Who knows what other miracles science and medicine will produce. Sport at least rejuvenates the body by 10 years. Joints, metabolism and the entire movement apparatus work more intensively and more efficiently (see sport makes us 10 years younger). Furthermore you can counteract a lack of energy, many diseases and laziness. Fulfill your wishes. Movement may not be the solution to all your problems, but it will support you. For a lifetime. So remember:
Movement is not a temporary solution, but a lifestyle.
It has to become part of your life until you really can't do it anymore. It has been proven that people who exercise regularly for at least 12 months always return to an athletic activity. No matter how long they took a break or were ill. They always want to continue. Learn the benefits, experience the success, feel good. If you can throw your children up in the air or lift them up without severe back pain, then that is encouragement enough.
The important thing is that you enjoy it. It has to become a habit. If you do something unwillingly, you do something wrong. Sure, you have to give yourself a push sometimes, but it mustn't feel like an obligation. If you like dancing or moving, then take a dance class. This is totally exhausting and together with the music and possibly a suitable dance partner it's a wonderful and enjoyable thing. Find the right activity for you.
Why you should move
The answer is quite simple. We humans were made for this! Our whole body is designed to move, to run, to jump and to walk. Unfortunately, nowadays there is hardly any need to move. When we move, it is more as an additional option, but no more as a duty. Many can work from home, the supermarket delivers the food. Theoretically, you hardly have to move at all.
There is only the problem that our body has not noticed anything of the current changes. It needs the movement as much as it needs the air to breathe. Maybe some people will contradict me here and say: "I haven't done any sport for 40 years and I'm still alive!" Sometimes you are lucky or have good genes. But statistically speaking, heart disease is one of the most common causes of death. And exactly this can be reduced by a physical activity.
Here are just a few advantages to give you an overview:
- Strengthening of the heart muscle
- Reduction of arteriosclerosis / risk of heart attack
- Increase of metabolism and fat burning
- Greater level of mental / physical energy and performance up to an advanced age
- Happier through endorphin release
- Reduction of asthmatic and other lung problems
- immune system improvement
- Stress reduction
These may just be a few advantages where you can think "I've heard it all before". If this is so, why are so many people lazy, have a saggy body shape and suffer from overweight? Listing the advantages alone will not get you anywhere. We have to combine it with positive emotions.
Movement of any kind releases endorphins. Therefore it happens again and again that people who have suffered from depression suddenly become addicted to sports. Their life was monotonous and lacking in content, without ups and downs. After a good training session they feel relaxed and satisfied. The feeling of having done something is simply terrific.
Even just a few years ago people were forced to move, take our grandparents or the generation before them. These people did everything with their hands. There was no Amazon or eBay where you could order anything. Things were mostly repaired, built, planted, harvested etc. by themselves. Everything was simply always done by themselves, also because mostly the money was missing. This isn't necessary any more. Due to our modern times, the digitalization and our smartphones we are less and less forced to leave the house or to do such work ourselves.
Older people usually start to suffer from dementia when they can no longer move around much. They then lose more and more interest in everyday things. But even at a young age, exercise helps to build up new brain cells. Of course not to the extent that you will be twice as smart after a few laps of cycling, but your mental performance and attention skills will increase.
Movement up to old age can take any form. Strength training in particular, if done correctly, offers a lot of positive benefits for the body. Of course, I would not necessarily recommend to someone of 80 years of age to lift weights or do Burpees, but daily walks or swimming would be imaginable.
The actual main part of this article now follows. It will be about how physical activity takes you to your limits and beyond. How it can improve your confidence and discipline.
Go beyond your limits
Success through physical training is certain. Our bodies are designed for movement. You may be stuck on a plateau in your life and you can't go any further. But apart from the health benefits, how can it help you cross your limits and move forward in life?
Through sport and exercise you will grow! Not only will you feel like getting more endorphin kicks, but you will also improve all your skills. Develop yourself! This includes not only a mental but also a physical development. At some point you will reach a limit with one of them. By developing and expanding in one part, you will also grow in the other.
If you get used to go to a gym or similar, you will get more self-disciplined. And this self-discipline can be used for other things in life.
- If you notice that you are stressed out from work or studying, or you do not see any progress for other reasons, a good unit of physical exercise will help you. Time for you and only for you. To distract yourself or just to be alone with your thoughts and of course to reduce stress.
- On the other hand, it is the same if you don't see any success in training. A mental training helps you to cross the borders. What other training methods or new forms of nutrition are there, which books/teachers can help me improve? Never stop asking questions.
You can actually imagine the whole thing like lifting weights. At the beginning you can only lift 3 kilos. After a few weeks you can do 4, then 4.5 and so on. With a regular training session (which kind is up to you), you will go beyond your limits. If you do not want to go beyond your limits, you could just stay with the initial 3 kilos forever.
But nobody wants that. You want to learn to improve yourself. So set higher standards for yourself and demand more from yourself and from life. Training is a very simple method to show you these advantages immediately. Because if you train regularly, you will get better, if not, you will stay on the spot. It is as simple as that.
And if you consistently stick to it, you will feel and see success. And when you have mastered this, you know that this also applies to other areas of life. Suppose you get the yellow belt in karate, then you are probably better than you were in the beginning with your white belt. Celebrate successes, they bring you further in life. New abilities are a proof for success.
If you used to read only one book a year, it's a great success as soon as you read 2 or 3. Improve continuously. This is what the training shows you. It shows you what efforts you have put into it. And of course it is extremely important because of the health aspects and your self-confidence. It feels good to have achieved something or learned something that you couldn't do before.
Stories of success and failure
Here are a few true stories that should make this clearer to you. They will show you how important the synergy of body and mind is in our life and how you can exceed your temporary limits. Maybe you will recognize some parallels to your situation. These are two success stories and two times exactly the opposite.
1. My success:
As I mentioned before, I used to be very lazy. So much that when I knew that I had a particularly busy day coming up, i.e. one or two extra appointments to my normal schedule, I often pulled myself out of it by calling in sick and simply canceling everything. It was just too much for me. The mere idea of having to do all this things, was unimaginably exhausting and demotivating. I ended all my plans before they had even begun.
The only problem was that I was not really happier because of that. For a short time I was glad that I didn't have to move out of the house, but I didn't have anything better to do. Above all, I knew that I usually had to make up for those things. This meant that I loaded even more tasks on my future self. Running away was a bad option.
At that time and also before that I visited martial arts courses from time to time or registered at a gym. I have paid countless fees without going more than twice a year. I think many people know exactly this situation. You have something planned, but you just can't really get it done. You can get up and go a few times, but then your motivation fades and you let it slide again.
The worst thing about it is the bad conscience I made myself. "You can't do anything! Lazy bastard! Look at your belly, etc." This is just not conducive for the self-esteem. So something needed to be changed. You have to make a conscious decision and realize that it cannot go on like this forever.
It was the beginning of 2011 when I finally decided to make a permanent change. I made myself clear that I was not getting anywhere this way. But I really wanted to train and get my body in shape, so I just started. You can imagine that my motivation was very high in the beginning. But less than 6 weeks passed and my motivation went down again. It was simply more comfortable on the couch than outside.
At this time the change in my previous unsuccessful and lazy life began. I asked myself: "How can I manage to go to the training?" The solution was quite simple for me. So I did not give up and this time I looked for a training partner. I knew that sport should become a habit. And I knew that my motivation would drop after 4-6 weeks. And I also knew that it should take about 10 weeks and more to develop a habit for one thing. Ergo, I need someone to motivate me beyond that time.
Said and done. So I developed the habit to train 2-3 times a week and sometime 3-4 times a week. Not only did I enjoy it, but I found the feeling of how good I felt after each workout to be simply outstanding. The feeling of trained muscles and the healthy exhaustion afterwards was my kick. That you look good in the mirror is of course the icing on the cake. Now I train 4-5 a week, depending on the routine and I don't need a training partner anymore.
It worked for me, but I wanted it myself. I just needed a jump start. I started to read a lot about sports and nutrition until I got a license as a personal trainer. I wanted to design my own training plans and I think that's the crux of the matter. If you just want to be motivated by a trainer, but don't really want to train, then there is something wrong.
I wanted to train and at the beginning I only needed a motivation to go there. But if you only do it because your coach is standing by and you hate every second of it, then you should just find something else. There are so many sports activities. It doesn't have to be weight training. Maybe if you like it more with a group, then take classes. On top of that, you meet new people with the same interest.
I can only speak for myself now, but I don't want to miss the training anymore. Now I know what I like and what I don't like. I know the exercises and I love to experiment. I always add other things to my workouts because I want variety. For me the training has become a part of me.
When I feel tired or weak, I train all the more. Afterwards I suddenly feel better. It's like a medicine and I'd like you to get to know these advantages, too. We do not all function in the same way, so you should find your way and your sport, but the benefits will be similar.
Since I have been training regularly and disciplined, I have been able to add more and more other things to my life. Before the training I do this and after the training I do that. This routine can be extended as much as you like until you can do all the things you want. The training was just the start.
2. The success of a friend:
A friend of mine could convince with a similar story. He was in his early 30s and just changed job. His new job took place, except for occasional meetings, exclusively in the home office. In the beginning he was full of joy, because he no longer had to use public transport every day.
This went very well for a while, because he had much more time to clean up the apartment and take care of private matters. But now he had no more need to go out anymore. He only moved to shop for groceries or when he met friends and family. A little belly joined him and what was visible from the training of former times disappeared bit by bit.
But it got worse. Severe back pain and problems with the intervertebral discs (he was still in his early 30s) were added to this and made sporting activities all the more difficult. He visited doctors because of the back problems, who then diagnosed that he would probably suffer from osteoporosis (bones lose their strength).
That this was a false diagnosis in the end was confirmed by other doctors. But at that time, he felt old and unable to do sports.
Note: He was in perfect health before that.
Finally, he went to a chiropractor who set him straight and simply advised him to exercise. He should't do any heavy or even unhealthy back exercises, but in any case weight training with a slow start.
Muscle training helps against osteoporosis. The doctor advised him that this would make his bones stronger. Apart from that, there is nothing wrong with his back, he just has problems due to the fact that he sits a lot and does not move very much. The spine just needed a walk.
Now some time has passed and a regular training session is now firmly anchored in the weekly schedule. It's not about lifting heavy weights for him, but about doing something good for himself and his body. A little bit of physio- and mental-training. His pain no longer exists and in the meantime he is much more active in the other areas of his life.
Now two examples of what happens if you don't make the turn and don't have any movement.
1. A former colleague:
This man had very bad eating habits. Although he was not really fat, he ate almost only unhealthy things, like pizza, burgers and cookies. In addition, he had problems with his lungs and stomach. He often complained about his aches and pains and was completely out of breath after two steps.
The thing with his stomach was probably something related to his diet, but the problem with his lungs was another one. He was often ill and generally in poor physical condition. I advised him to go jogging at that time, but only very slowly, in the fresh air, because medical evidence shows that this reduces symptoms of asthma and other lung problems. He was convinced that such things were nonsense. Only his spray could help him.
But unfortunately his condition worsened more and more over time and his lungs could no longer take in enough oxygen to carry it into the blood. I do not want to go into detail here, but through breathing exercises and walking in the fresh air, even severe asthmatics can alleviate their condition. You start very slowly and increase the strain over time without overworking yourself.
The lung adapts to the effort, even if it is small, and forms new alveoli and blood vessels. The end of the story is that at mid-40s he looks and moves like someone in mid-70s. No kidding. I think you want to enjoy your life to the fullest and not get worn out so early.
2. My own grandfather:
He's a good man and I respect him. He was always very active in his life, although he lost a leg in the war and has been wearing a prosthesis since he was 18 years old. However, he did not take it easy on himself and rode his bike, went swimming and in his younger years also dancing.
When he had reached the age of 80, the wear and tear on his normal leg and knee was so great that he could hardly move. Even a knee operation could no longer help. He used to ride his bike and take care of the garden, plant and harvest vegetables and fruits.
After the operation, however, this was no longer possible. Of course he was quite old, but one could have maintained his mental state and probably his body even longer. Since he could not go out any more, he lost more and more interest in everyday things. It became worse and worse and he started to forget.
Less and less movement made the muscles and the brain weak. You could see how the lack of movement and the freedom that came with it took away his happiness. Within a few years, he degenerated very, very much. Of course he was very old (over 90), but he would probably have been able to hold out mentally and physically longer if he hadn't been deprived of movement.
It is of course only physical activity. It's not a universal solution for everything. But it can be the beginning for you, if you want to increase your discipline or see quick success in your life. Even if it's only two sessions per week, you will feel the benefits mentally and physically. In addition, you will be happy that you are doing something for yourself regularly. One less thing to worry about, in this sense. Don't think of it as a punishment, because that's exactly how it shouldn't feel.
Find something you enjoy, we're all different. Enjoy what you can while you can. Otherwise you might become like in the stories above and end up not being able to do it anymore. Don't throw away your health, because your mind needs a healthy place to live and function. Do not neglect either of them, neither the body nor the mind. Through regular exercise, you will know where your limits are and how you can exceed them. Begin and own it for a lifetime. You will not regret it.
I hope the article was helpful for you. If so, why don't you share it so that others can benefit from it too? I wish YOU the best.
- LdR -