ASK THE GOAT: Happy body leads to a happy mind

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

Goat: “I really want to change, but just cannot seem to get motivated. I think I may be depressed. I feel sluggish and worn down. I hate the thought of running, but know it is the only way to shed these pounds. I keep getting fatter. What can I do to get running again? I hate feeling this way.” Signed “Depressed”

Dear Depressed: The mental and physical “selves” are intertwined. But each can be used to kick-start activity in the other. I use running as a kind of “Trail Prozac.”

I have been diagnosed repeatedly throughout my life with aggression, addiction, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have lived months as a drooling zombie doped down to my basest mental cognizance on Lexapro and other pharmaceutical cocktails.

I found that for me, running is a more dependable, and cheaper, mood-brightener. I am not suggesting you should stop, alter or modify any drug that you may have been prescribed by a medical authority. I am merely stating that in my case, running has supplanted the need for many medications and I have been medically released from a daily regimen of synthetic drugs.

You are caught in a vicious cycle. You are beating yourself up for a weight gain that continues to augment and you are too unmotivated to fix the glitch.

Here is where you can break the pattern. Go into the bathroom and undress as if preparing for a shower. Look into the mirror and face your weight gain. Most people who have put on some weight attempt to hide from others as well as themselves. Face the fat. Turn completely around from right to back, to left and to front. See your body as it is; not as it used to be. If you are in any way not happy with the outward appearance of your body, put on your running gear and do something about it. Walk, walk-run or run a little bit. Get up a good sweat. You know that you always feel better after you workout. You know you always look better after you’ve done something that entails intensity.

A happy physical body evokes a calmer, healthier mind. Your body produces every chemical the pharmaceutical industry can pack into a capsule to “brighten your mood.” Intensity-based exercise throws off pounds and stimulates glandular activity. Glands produce and secrete chemicals that regulate all bodily functions, from mood, immune responses, weight-regulation and an overwhelming sense of peace. Ending the forward progression of weight gain will also help temper feelings of loss, guilt and depression.

Always follow medical advice, but understand the link between the physical and mental “you.” Winter and holidays are hard enough. Don’t compound the stress with self-loathing. If you are having trouble getting started with a running regimen, look into the Couch to 5K or Galloway programs. You can always link up with the local run club as well. Happy Body, Happy Mind.