After months of telling ourselves we really needed to start incorporating consistent exercise back into our lives (after the whirlwind of having 4 children in less than 5 years), my husband and I finally did it this fall! We were both into exercise when we were single and really enjoyed it and couldn't believe we had let it fall out of our lives for so long. My goals for exercising included gaining strength and toning, (let's face it - after having 4 babies and losing almost 100 lbs, there is a lot of toning to be done :-) but I also knew that it would do wonders for my emotional health as well. It is now 3 months later and I have found that, yes, it is wonderful and beneficial to start to feel physically stronger and more toned. But an even bigger value for me has been the emotional health benefit. Now, if I go more than 2 days without exercising I literally start to spiral downward mood-wise. It's almost as if the light starts to dim a bit. So if you're feeling down, along with changing your diet, exercise is a super important component to help you gain back your mental/emotional energy and vitality.
Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, suggests that there are other areas, besides food, that need to be in place for optimal physical and emotional health. He calls them primary and secondary foods. Secondary food is the literal food that we eat. But then there are 4 primary foods. They are relationships, spirituality, exercise, and career. One's diet might be the picture of health, but they might not be experiencing optimal health if one of their primary foods is off-balance or lacking. As a health counselor, I will help people explore their diets, but also as important, we will explore these other areas that may need strengthening in order to achieve the desired outcome.