“Mind over matter”
“Just do it”
“Shut up and squat”
Best proteins to consume…
The importance of vitamins and minerals…
We have heard all the above at some point while we go down the road to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I have blogged about many of the items above.
What they all have in common is that it directly impacts the physical side of our being, the body. But what most people don’t realize is that it also plays an important role in happy!
The body, mind and spirit forms the perfect triangle of ‘well-being’. Any side that is weakened, makes the triangle vulnerable.
One side of that triangle, proper exercise builds confidence through goal setting and achievement. Not to mention that it makes you look pretty good with or without clothes. That has to put a smile on your face as well as others!
Another reason exercise can promote happiness is from the release of two important neurotransmitters. Dopamine drives your brains reward system. When you are praised, you feel good. This is from the release of dopamine.
At the same time it also gets boosted when you achieve goals, i.e. gym records, weight management, etc. Any pleasurable physical activity releases dopamine.
Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, works against depression. Exercise is the best way to increase it. This is why people get that ‘high’ going to the gym, they are giving themselves a shot of serotonin and they don’t even know it!
Another side of the triangle, eating the right types and amount of food, helps support the exercise you put yourself through by repairing the body in the most efficient way possible. It feeds the body from the exercises that makes you looking and feeling great.
No one side is the silver-bullet to happiness, they all must work in unison in order to accomplish this well-being.
But it is the second and third side of the triangle, nutrition as well as your mind and spirit, which most people ignore or neglect that makes their well-being triangle weak.
The body is a complex machine. And what you eat helps feed it! Eat the wrong things and the complexity starts to break down. Eat the right things and the body rewards you in kind by functioning at a more efficient level. So there is no surprise here that what you eat also impacts your happiness.
Without getting into the science of it too much, here are some foods that help in your happiness well-being.
- Swiss Chard, high in folic acid, along with other leafy greens. People with depression suffer from low levels of folate.
- Dark Chocolate, must be at least 70% cocoa (I personally have 90% cocoa). High levels of cocoa flavanols increases calmness and being content. Warning, the higher the cocoa the bitter the taste! This is not your regular chocolate bar!
- Eggs, with essential fatty acids they help you produce serotonin.
- Almonds, the wonder nut! Contains high levels of folate and magnesium. The latter is essential to brain health which helps fight depression.
- Lentils, another good source of folate.
- Oatmeal, high levels of magnesium along with high soluble fiber helps maintain a constant blood sugar level which avoids mood swings.
- Honey has a calming effect, great to add to tea not to mention popping a spoonful for energy prior to hitting the gym.
- Flaxseed to boost omega-3s. Imbalance of omega-6 to 3 is found in many patients that suffer from depression.
- Water, just plain old water! Dehydration impacts mood, stay hydrated to keep your body flowing (pun intended) properly.
Mind and Spirit
Studies on the effects of meditation has shown that it helps rewire your brain. People that volunteered for meditation studies were found that brain neuro-images associated with compassion and self-awareness grew, and parts associated with stress actually shrank. The end result were people were nicer and happier.
Yoga is a subset of meditation that can lead to happiness. Yoga practitioners encourage pupils to change their consciousness into positive thinking and self-affirmations. Practiced over a period of time leads to feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. Yoga encourages one to focus on their inner selves, through breathing, meditating, and stretching.
So building solid walls of your triangle can only lead to a Don’t Worry, Be Happy attitude that will allow you the freedom to be…Fit Forlife!