It is no secret that your brain and body have a very symbiotic relationship. Your mental health affects your physical health and vice versa. However, when we are talking about weight loss, we seldom talk about the effect that your brain and mental fitness has on weight loss and nearly every diet plan you can imagine.
Of course, keeping your brain healthy can be a challenge. Mental exercise is important, and everything from mind games, such as Sudoku, to writing can be a great help. There are other mental health exercises as well, like meditation and self-hypnosis that also impact physical fitness and even diet. Weight loss is only 20% about what you do in the gym and 80% about what you eat, but it is 100% related to your mental attitude. Determination, the building of good habits, and the reduction of threats are all vital to weight loss success.
Here are some simple reasons why mental fitness is the key to effective weight loss.
Your Mood Affects Your Diet
Even though studies have shown that a healthier diet can help alleviate the symptoms of depression, people who are depressed usually eat foods that are not good for them. Those high in sugar, caffeine, and high in fat and artificial ingredients are common, and these foods lead to more depression because of the way they affect hormones in the body. More depression leads to more bad eating, and that begins the cycle.
Part of the problem is that it takes time and effort to cook good food, and often depressive moods result in lower motivation. A bjj athlete cannot afford to eat poorly if they are to keep the body in prime physical shape, and certainly cannot suffer from a lack of motivation. If an athlete is experiencing depression, they need to find ways to manage it, to keep it from affecting their body and mentality.
Stress Alters Your Diet
The same thing that is true of mood is true of stress. Good food and better dietary choices help reduce the symptoms of stress, but those who are stressed tend to eat poorly, grabbing food on the run due to lack of energy, and these food choices result in greater energy loss and more stress. The goal is to have a body like the ones you see in fitness photos, and stress can prevent that from happening.
This is another vicious cycle, but one that can be broken with some willpower and better habits, and friends. Even bjj athletes need a support system. Food preparation, meal planning, and simple organization help reduce stress surrounding food choices, and result in better nutrition.
The harm stress does to your mind and body is common knowledge, but these same things also have an impact on weight loss and the body’s ability to function at a high level. To beat stress and be mentally healthy, exercise and diet must be combined. The result will be weight loss in a natural way and also better physical and mental health.
Anxiety, Depression, and Food
Even for those of us who are not stressed out or depressed, there is often a certain anxiety surrounding food. The reason is we fear the judgement of others, and if we crave certain foods, even ones that are not good for us, it is more tempting to sneak them or eat them on the sly rather than being open about our struggles.
The result is greater anxiety about food and the results, increasing depression and the continuation of poor food habits. Like stress and mood, the wrong food feeds the wrong mood, and the brain affects the body and vice versa. The cycle is one that can be truly difficult to break. The keys?
- Be Honest. If you are struggling with food choices, share with your friends and those who support you.
- Get Help: Sometimes depression is not just something you can beat. So you will need professional help to determine whether you need medication, therapy, or both.
- Get Diet Help: There are many source of dietary help available. Although bjj grapplers require a certain type of diet,some of these other sources, including your doctor,can make suggestions to incorporate aspects into that diet.
If you can break out of the anxiety, depression, and food cycle it will be much easier to stick with an effective weight loss plan.
To Drink or Not to Drink
The big question is whether alcohol helps with stress or hurts. The same is true of anxiety and depression, and the answer is a simple “it depends.” However, depending on the type of alcohol you choose to consume, the dietary effects can be huge.
Let’s break it down. Alcohol is a depressant, so for those who are depressed, it often has the opposite of the desired effect, and can actually make things worse rather than better. However, for those with anxiety and stress, a moderate amount of alcohol can actually help their emotional symptoms.
From a dietary standpoint, though, alcohol tends to include large amounts of sugar, a byproduct of the fermentation process. Beer is probably the largest culprit, followed closely by wine, and finally by hard liquor. However, the issue is also related to serving size.
Excessive drinking will be harmful to mental fitness in the long run regardless of how noble the motives. It will also have a negative impact on an individual’s ability to lose weight, and more importantly, to fight.. Also, alcohol can inspire unhealthy food cravings in some, resulting in an even larger struggle.
Your Food Affects Your Brain
Here is the bottom line. Your food affects your brain, and no matter what your dietary choices they will have an impact on your mental fitness. If you already struggle in this area, your mental fitness will, in turn, affect your ability to grapple and lose weight.
In order to lose weight effectively, you will have to address mental fitness as well, but with the right combination of diet, exercise, and the right mindset, weight loss will be much more effective.