For a strong mind, a strong body
And no, I’m not talking about a stomach with marked abs or legs of steel. I’m not referring to any idea of “beauty” that makes us believe that a muscular or thin body is the only type of beautiful body.
I’m talking about the effect exercise has on our minds.
I started going to the gym seriously in 2013 during my year as Miss Colombia. At the beginning, exercising was just about my body, getting toned and looking “fit”. But between repetition and repetition, from one sequence to the next, I awakened to a learning process that changed my lifestyle.
I see it now as a “chain of mindfulness”: when I started to care for my body, my body would ask for better nutrition. When I started to care for my body and my nutrition, I started to nourish consciously my spirit, mind and heart.
The connection between mind-body is tangible and what happens in the body is replicated in the mind, and viceversa. Exercise triggered my need to start feeding myself with love in other aspects.
It’s been a few years since my run as Miss Colombia and what was a new lifestyle then is now an ideal I live by. It was thanks to my compromise with exercise that I reached these reflections:
- Be present
- An exercise really works if you stay present. It’s not only about how many repetitions you do, rather about how conscious and connected you are with the muscle or zone you’re working.
- Learning to be present during difficult times in exercise, like resistance sequences or doing squats (because really, who can be happy while doing squats?) is a life lesson. I say it because in life, you either run from adversity or you face it. A mind that can withstand pain or discomfort is a mind with endurance, trained not to crumble in when things get hard, and capable of doing anything it proposes.
- Moving your body is moving your emotions
- Sometimes we don’t have time to go to the gym (or wherever you train) for an hour each day. Doesn’t matter! The important thing is to move: go up the stairs instead of the lift, jump and dance before showering, chase your dog around the park. What you do doesn’t matter as long as you’re moving.
- The “high” that we feel after exercising is real, because of all the dopamine produced by our brain when we move. That’s why exercising when we’re feeling stuck or low can be the medicine we need.
- Start slow but be constant
- If you were going to learn a new language, you wouldn’t ask the teacher to read a thesis in the first class. The same goes for exercise, you won’t be the strongest one at the gym your first day or even month. There are steps to follow to build your way up.
- Every body has a unique rhythm and it must be respected. Success is achieved with slow but constant steps. It’s not about what you do in the gym for one day, but the willingness to exercise with discipline. This same thing applies to other aspects of life.
- Set challenges for yourself
- As you know, I love challenges and exercising is a big challenge. Waking up and pushing yourself to go to the gym is a challenge, every sequence you do is a challenge, even the final stretch can be one. For each challenge you face there is a goal to be reached and the only competition should be with yourself.
- Besides, there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes with achieving a goal. Counting your achievements and feeling like you deserve to celebrate each one is delicious, specially when it comes from your own effort.
- Give it all you got
- Exercise is something you either give a 100% or nothing, there is no middle point. As I say, you gotta give it all you got.
- If you walked all the way to the gym or are ready to train in your living room, go and do it well. The results will speak of your effort. I assure you that if you give it your all, you will be surprised by what you can achieve.
I’m convinced that the best thing that exercise has given me are the muscles I have applied to life. Today I consider myself lucky because more than a strong body, I have trained for a strong mind.