Thursday, November 10, 2011

Weight and Fitness Management in Mental Health

The untimely death of rapper "Heavy D" who banked on his name as the "overweight lover" due to a possible heart attack at 44 years old, was a shock to those who grew up hearing his music and enjoyed it.

The causes of his death are a possible flu-like symptoms, and the issues with his weight. Apparently he had yoyo'ed between 300 lbs to lose 160 lbs and back up to 344 lbs. And he vicariously tried to manage his weight.

Celebrities are expected to look a certain way to be typecast into roles and it is known most celebrities will do anything to achieve the look, including men. Physically, that causes a lot of mental stress to keep up the image, not to mention money. But if one fails to keep up the image, then one does not work...

Nevertheless, this sends a message to all people of color, especially people of African descent who are struggling with their weight loss and image. We can argue on what we identify as the standards of beauty in this country, but these issues are not causing the psychological torture that many of us who are dealing with mental health issues.

When one deals with their mental health, exercise seems even more difficult. It is said, in the research with an abundance of supporting evidence, that exercise and fitness improves mental health symptoms.

For me, after doing a true fitness regimen, it does. It takes me 3 months to get on track for consistency, i.e. going to the gym on the days I agree to, working out at a consistent level and staying for a length of time that is beneficial. But, I do not have other stressors like a full time job or children.

By NO MEANS am I saying those who deal with mental health conditions should not workout. Fitness is beneficial for all health reasons.

What I am saying is motivation is a huge issue, just like everyone else and then after I work out, I feel worse. Not because I worked out too hard, but because there is a big issue with dehydration. I get dehydrated. And drinking water has little benefits, but drinking large amounts of water after 5 minutes of vigorous exercise makes no sense. I could see if it was after one hour of quality vigorous exercise with a slow start, brisk and a cool down. But, after 5 minutes? Really?

Am I the only one who has noticed this?

Then the pain and soreness. Physical pain and soreness of muscles make it difficult to want to restart a physical regimen. And those who deal with mental health issues can easily talk ourselves out of fitness. To combat this, what I do is say to myself, "I can cite all the reason why I should not, but what is one reason why I should?"

That keeps me motivated.

So, all this to say just like picking up the pieces of a shattered life caused by dealing with the mental health issue, handling issues of HEALTHY weight and fitness management is a slow crescendo for wellness.

And if your issues with weight loss are tough, consider visiting our friends at: A Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss