The following are very timely thoughts from Licensed Psychotherapist and Certified Fitness Trainer & Nutritionist Loredana Trandu, of Transcend of Fairfield, about overcoming mental challenges...
It is important we recognize the connection between our minds and our bodies if we want to feel our best!
Overcoming mental challenges is just as important as the physical ones....sometimes tougher. Poor emotional/mental health can weaken the body's immune system. Also, when we feel stressed, anxious or upset, we tend not to take care of our health as well. We may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious food...and we may start abusing alcohol, tabacco, junk food or other drugs in an effort to self-sooth. We fall off the "fitness weapon" which, in turn, creates more emotional and mental imbalance, leading to unhealthy weight gain or loss, insomnia, high blood pressure, etc. It's a viscious cycle which can only be stopped if we stop viewing the mind and the body as two separate entities.
Mind-body training is a combination of fitness training, nutrition, meditation and psychotherapy! Yes, psychotherapy!
There is so much evidence that our thoughts, feelings and attitudes can affect our biological functioning and that what we do with our bodies can affect our mental state. Yet, there is still stigma and shame attached to mental and emotional issues. People tend to be embarrassed about going to see a psychotherapist and end up using their personal trainers as counselors in an attempt to receive the much needed emotional support.
The circumstances prime this to happen: Clients bare weaknesses and shortcomings, goals and hopes, while trainers — part cheerleader, part dictator — guide the journey. In this hyper-exposed state, it’s not surprising that a client might start to unload on the trainer some personal issues. While this may provide some temporary relief, not only will it sabotage your physical training but it will also keep you from overcoming your mental and emotional challenges.
In order to strengthen our mental and emotional muscles, we have to start viewing psychotherapy as an important part of fitness and exercise -- and nutrition as part of psychotherapy! They are not separate and we cannot feel the joyful mind-body connection we all crave if we continue to view them this way!
So many times I work with psychotherapists who, in an effort to help their clients, start neglecting self-care, do not make time to exercise, eat an unhealthy lunch at their desk and go home to their families feeling physically depleted and mentally and emotionally drained. On the other hand, I have worked with trainers who have developed eating disorders, or exercise and drug addictions.
It's time to reinvent fitness and destigmatize psychotherapy. It's time to reunite mind training and body training. True fitness is freedom and it can only be attained by utilizing the mind body connection!
Loredana Trandu, LPC, NASM