Life Is a Battle – Stay Strong and Prepared

If you haven’t seen Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe, put it on your list immediately.

When I talk about staying mentally strong, this is one movie I love to reference.

There is a fine line between being a positive person and preparing for adversity. James Braddock finds himself down on his luck after being a successful boxer and needs to fight through the hard times for his family.

This doesn’t require just physical endurance (he’s a boxer and also does physical labor on the docks), but mental endurance as well. To wake up every day, put on his outfit, and keep fighting for every single scrap he can get.

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This requires a different kind of endurance than just being able to put weights up and down.

On your journey to a better body, do not overlook developing your mental strength as well. There are a ton of people out there with rock-hard abs and zero ability to actually handle stress.

There will always be unforeseen circumstances that come your way, things that happen that you have no control over. Assuming that you’ll just “deal with it” when it comes is nonsense. You have to mentally prepare yourself for things around the corner that you don’t see coming.

Muscles grow with resistance, and the mind is no different.

There are tons of people who can’t handle an ounce of resistance. They crumble to the smallest amounts of adversity.

There will always be times in life where we must find that tough warrior within and battle our way through life. Something will happen to our families, our loved ones, or our own lives, and we must fight to pull ourselves out of the situation.

Instead of building the fundamental habits for a better life, people waste their time playing video games, smoking weed (I live in Denver, so this is incredibly common), scrolling through Facebook, drinking their savings away at bars, watching football,  watching reality TV… It’s all a waste of time, especially if you aren’t where you want to be in life.

If you aren’t making as much money as you want, don’t have your dream body, aren’t learning anything new, or progressing toward any goal you want, why would you waste a second flushing your time down the toilet instead of taking the action steps needed to move your life forward?

This is something I constantly battle, and so do most of the people I know. Time vampires are everywhere, waiting to suck the life out of you.

Of course, breaks are good, but at the sacrifice of your goals, any breaks should be destroyed.

Build your body. Build your mind.

Why Stress Is Ruining Your Body and What to Do About it

Diet, workout plans, and sleep are all building blocks to an impressive body. However, there’s a sneaky little thing called stress that can ruin all your gains.

It’s not nearly as “sexy” to talk about as things like getting abs and cooking impressive meals, but your hormones and metabolism are extremely important to the overall function of your body.

Things like major stress, depriving your body of the needed calories, and constant binge drinking can damage your body for years. Thankfully, for the most part, with careful planning you can undo a lot of the damage. (One recommended resource for this is Jillian Michael’s book: Master Your Metabolism. P.S. that’s not an affiliate link. I just dig the book.)

From the book:

“According to Dr. Scott Isaacs, author of The Leptin Boost Diet and guru of all things hormonal, stress can cause

  • Leptin resistance
  • Insulin resistance
  • Lower estrogen (estradiol) in women
  • Lower testosterone in men
  • Lower levels of growth hormone
  • Higher cortisol levels
  • Impaired conversion of thyroid hormone”

Basically, it can ruin everything.

All of those can cause serious health complications along with unexplained weight gain.

This is why I disagree fully with anyone who claims weight loss is as simple as calories in and calories out. It kind of is, but not always. Plus, I refuse to ride the weight-shaming bandwagon, but that’s another story.

When a study was done at the University of Chicago and they deprived sleep in young men for two nights, the hormone that regulates hunger levels increased.

Not to mention, stress and sleep are usually correlated. If you’re stressed, you don’t sleep well. If you don’t sleep well, it’s hard to deal with stress. It’s a constant yo-yo that can cause mental and physical hell. It’s also harder to eat well and maintain energy to exercise when you have too much stress in your body.

Dealing With Stress

Now, the problem that I understand far too well is that most advice about dealing with stress has to do with spending large amounts of money. Some of these horrible tips include: get a weekly massage! Go on vacation! Hire some help! All of them are great ideas, but I choose to also learn how to manage my stress without spending money (so I can kick my student loans in the face).

So, here are my tips to manage stress on the cheap:

1. The 10/10/10 Rule. I cannot remember where I heard this rule, but the basics are simple: you ask yourself if the thing stressing you out at the moment will matter in 10 days, 10 months, and 10 years. While something might matter in 10 days, it won’t matter in 10 years.

2. Focus on the things you do have. I’m not big into being “woo-woo”, but gratitude is serious business. There are always things to be grateful for, even if it’s the fact that you’re alive. List them all out.

3. Get your mind off stress with physical work. When my mind is completely bogged down with stress, it’s hard to have any perspective outside the moment I’m in. This is when I know it’s time to go exercise, clean the house, or do something else like garden. Physically exhaust yourself so you stop thinking for a bit.

4. Go do something for free in your city. Thankfully, I live in downtown Denver, so I have a long list of free things to do around here. When I lived in my smaller town in Michigan, there were still PLENTY of things to do that got me out of the house and my mind off what I was stressed about.

5. Do something that always gets your mind right. For me, it’s watching one of my favorite movies between Gladiator, 300, or something really heavy like Schindler’s List. All of those remind me what’s important and to not worry about the (usually) petty thing I can’t get off my mind.

Learn your body

Overall, it’s important to know what’s going on with your body. Fitness and nutrition are fun, but if your body is not functioning well at the most basic level, it will all come crashing down eventually.

Stay healthy, inside and out.

What are YOUR tips to staying healthy and managing stress?