The Trinity Of Mind Body And Soul – Why Fitness Is Not Just About Our Bodies
Author: Deepti Singh
It wasn’t the concern for my weight that put me on the fitness odyssey a few years ago. Besides, one factor that made me jump onto the fitness bandwagon was my “Knee Pain.” I was just 30 years old then and was terrified at the idea of steadily developing Arthritis, predominantly, due to the nature of my previous career, that had me sitting in front of the computer for extended hours.
So I gradually started with home workouts and continued with them until I moved to the United States. The country of world-class athletes. Now, what can I say? I soon was surrounded by people; Stout, Tall, Lean, Short, or Plump, all shapes and sizes, yet have one thing in common, “Fitness” was predominantly a part of their lifestyle. You may call it a mob mentality or possibly the zeal that I leaped towards advanced training. I took the YMCA membership and soon turned into a fitness freak. I was attending Zumba classes twice a week, Pilates, TRX, Tabata (HIIT), Power Yoga, Yoga Sculpt, and whenever I wasn’t doing any of these, I would either sneak into our community Gym, to run on a Treadmill or do Elliptical. On the weekends, I would be brisk walking or running on the jogging track with my family. Albeit, this helped me explore a different side of my personality, giving a boost to my confidence with a toned body. I gradually realized that it was turning me into a machine, considering how much of a fitness addict I had become lately. There were days when I could not attend my classes, and that would leave me feeling crankier, depressed, and anxious.
It was one of those bizarre blizzard days in Boston, that canceled all my classes, which knocked some sense into me. I was in my regular sweatpants, wanting to get out of the house and drive away from this depressing weather, when I discerned, that as a matter of choice, I could do something different. Why not try meditation? Therefore, after a few mindful stretches on my yoga mat, I sat with my earplugs on to listen to 10 minutes of guided meditation. That calmed my mind, and soothed my nerves, as I could feel my anxiety slowly settling down. Now, here’s the moment of truth. Research published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that if you are exercising for more than 7.5 hours a week, you could be prone to anxiety, depression, and poor mental health. An overstressed body could also lead to confusion, irritability, anger, and mood swings.
I do realize the fact that a healthy body leads to longevity. However, Fitness is not only concerned with our physical shape and form. Besides, it has a lot to do with our overall physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing, which is called “Holistic Fitness.” The concept of Holistic Fitness is not very recent; exercises like Yoga and Tai Chi aim at striking a holistic balance between our physical and mental state with controlled breathing. Holistic Fitness also aims at getting a better combination of Strength, Cardio, and Flexibility based workouts alongside a mindful nutrition plan.
Holistic fitness does not promote crazy fancy diet programs, and that is why it is called “Holistic Nutrition” when we eat for our mind, body, and soul. It aims at incorporating a more fresh natural fiber-based diet than just focusing on protein. Holistic Nutrition deals with food to cope with depression or to boost happy hormones like Nuts and Seeds, Fatty fish like Tuna and Salmon, Berries, Spinach and Kale, and Dark Chocolate.
In Fitness, there is never a “One Plan Fits All” rule. If you are dealing with chronic health issues, it is advisable to consult your physician before following the footsteps of others. Blindly copying the East or the West side of the globe also doesn’t work in the long run, remember the environment you were born and raised, the traditional home cooked meal can never go wrong with an occasional indulgence. Our immune system also depends upon the physical environment we live in, the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.
Holistic Fitness also talks about the quality of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep should be just as important as going to the gym first thing in the morning. Sleeping with your cell-phone by your side is a terrible idea, as it not just damages our retina, it also stimulates our brain and delays our REM sleep.
Taking Care Of The Trinity: Mind, Body, and Soul
Since now, we have understood the concept of Holistic Fitness; let’s see, how, taking care of our Mind, Body, and Soul can bring an all-embracing change to our wellbeing.
1) Mind: Taking care of our Mental Health should always be our highest priority. Meditation can sometimes be a life-saver, so develop the practice of meditating every day. Reading a book, having a heartfelt conversation with your family or friends, Cooking, Music, Dancing, Gardening, Solving Word Puzzles, Brain Games, or learning a new craft can lift your spirits and provide a good brain exercise.
2) Body: Holistic Fitness promotes a healthy body weight and does not swing in between the extremes. Hiking, Biking, Swimming, Jogging, Nature Walk, Yoga, Tai Chi, etc. a perfect combination of strength, cardio, and flexibility workouts integrate into Holistic Fitness.
3) Soul: In the process of keeping our body fit, we often ignore the importance of our spiritual well being. A Spiritual mind is a powerful tool to deal with any challenge. It helps develop resilience, the ultimate art of living. A silent retreat during a day for about 15-30 minutes can help us reconnect with our inner being. Spend some time alone, pray every day, express gratitude in your thoughts and actions, write a journal. All of this may help you connect with your core.
I soon realized the fact that it is the holistic approach towards Fitness, that could help me with my overall well being and happiness in life. I learned to slow down. I started listening to my body and would not push myself into something just because it’s in trend. I still keep a perfect balance of Strength, Cardio, and Flexibility workouts in my weekly schedule, but have made sure not to over-indulge myself. Because it is in coming together of our mind, body, and spirit, that we will find the true meaning of life and our existence.