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Building the Body and the Brain

Aug 15, 2013

The total package of living a healthy lifestyle not only includes being physically fit, but also mentally strong. The same energy and attention you put into building your body’s strength, endurance and flexibility should also be applied to having a positive attitude and perspective on life. It takes combining mental and physical strength with solid nutrition habits to build a body and brain that can successfully work together to accomplish your life’s goals.

Mind Over Matter
Living a well-balanced healthy lifestyle starts with focusing on your mental, physical and nutritional health during your daily life activities. Josh Bate, personal trainer at Fitness Together East Greenwich, advises his clients to give 100 percent in each of these areas throughout all aspects of their lives for optimal results.

“If you are not 100 percent on your nutrition, training and attitude, one or all of those is bound to suffer,” Bate says. “Your attitude in the weight room, on the elliptical or while using the battle rope has to stay with you while you are on the construction site, taking care of the kids or sitting in your office.”

One of the first steps to obtaining a strong body and healthy mind is to have solid, attainable goals before beginning the journey of health and fitness. Without a goal, or at least a vision in mind, you will most likely end up spinning your wheels or finding yourself working toward the impossible. Bate encourages you to set your sights high, but be aware of the fine line between being realistic and completely impractical.

An example of a realistic and challenging goal might be to add 20 pushups to your existing maximum set of 15 within eight weeks. This type of approach gives you a clear-cut goal that can be broken down into smaller increments, making the challenge both mentally and physically achievable.  

“Setting goals this way is much easier to manage, keep track of and make little tweaks along the way,” Bate says. “Strengthen the mind and the body will follow.”

Active Lifestyles Breed Healthy Habits
Proper nutrition and exercise go hand in hand for achieving mental and physical health. While illness, stress, depression and other outside influences can take their toll on mental and physical health, each of these conditions has been shown to be diminished with the right diet and exercise plan, according to Bate.

“While there is no one right way to train or eat, and while not every diet or program works for everyone, the two must be combined and work synergistically for the best possible outcome,” Bate says. “The hormonal response the body puts out when undergoing these activities has been proven by science time and time again to illicit happy thoughts and less stress.”

To accomplish total body health and fitness, it’s important to incorporate strength training, cardio and mobility into your fitness regimen. A consistent cardio routine is key to keeping the heart healthy, enhancing your body’s recovery and improving longevity, while lifting weights is an integral component to building strength, burning calories and accelerating fat loss. Weight training builds lean muscle, which in turn burns more calories because your body must use energy to build and maintain your muscles. More calories burned can lead to an increase in fat loss, making for a healthier and happier you.

Eat Well to be Fit
When people think about eating healthy, the first thing that often comes to mind is reducing what they eat and taking away certain foods. Many people skip meals in an effort to lose weight and become more fit, but Bate suggests that you have to focus first on simply eating to establish a healthy nutrition plan. 

“While you may lose weight (by skipping meals), you are in no way getting more fit,” Bate says. “You are not building or retaining lean muscle. You are not recovering from your workouts. You are not getting vitamins and minerals. You are not feeding your brain. You are not going to keep your hormones in check and you are simply not feeding your body the raw energy (calories) it needs.”

Bate believes that it is important to choose the right foods at least 95 percent of the time. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you can never enjoy your favorite foods again, but you have to keep in mind that you are what you eat. It’s important to ask yourself whether eating your favorite food will help you get closer to your goals or further away from your goals. You also need to be mindful that you can’t out-train a poor diet.

“You can do all the crunches and side bends that you want, but living off fried foods and sweets is not going to carve out your six-pack,” Bate said.

Set goals and accomplish them by taking a total mind and body approach to healthy living. Bate’s simplest advice is to stick with it. You can’t accomplish your goals by quitting or seeing the glass as half empty. Stay strong mentally and physically by training right, eating well and keeping a positive attitude.