“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” – This is one of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes. When I initially heard this quote years ago, it did not fully make sense to me. I understood it, but at the time I couldn’t really make the connections between where I was and my past.
But as I am at this moment, the person that I have become, the way I view the world, the values and vision I have and the way I feel, I can pinpoint 5 things that had a massive impact on all of this. These are not major life events, but rather things that I started doing or learned to do, that have altogether been life-changing! I am hoping that sharing these 5 things over my next 5 posts will show you how seemingly insignificant things can have big impacts, and even inspire you to adopt new changes in your life.
I was not always the bubbly, positive, ambitious person that many people know me as being today. And the first thing that really changed that reality was health and exercise.
When I started exercising, I grew stronger. Not just physically but also mentally. This increase of strength allowed me to start pushing through the hard times I was having in my life. It allowed me to start working harder towards becoming the person I want to be. The exercise was one of the major factors to me getting over my depression. It gave me an outlet for my emotions and my frustration, and it also gave me a purpose, something to work towards. The underlying reason a lot of people go through depression is that they have lost that feeling of purpose in their lives, which is what leads to the feelings of hopelessness, frustration, sadness, feeling lost. For me exercise crumpled those feelings.
Exercise releases endorphins which are a chemical that interact with receptors in your brain, reducing your feeling of pain and also triggering a positive feeling in your body. Exercise gives you something to work towards. For me, it was getting stronger. Whatever it may be for you, and whether or not you suffer from depression, the goals you set for yourself give you a sense of purpose. And even just that can be life-changing for many people.
I found that exercise was also the best metaphor for combating tough situations or times in life. Taking the example from something similar said by Jorge Rosado; when doing barbell squats, and you’re at the bottom of your squat with all that heavy weight resting on your shoulders. Your legs might be feeling so weak they’re shaking, you might be feeling short of breath, you might feel like you can’t continue on any longer. But the only choice you have, unless you want to drop that bar, is to push back against the weight and stand up. And that is the principle I started applying to my life. When nothing in your life feels like it’s going right. When it feels like reaching your goals aren’t worth it. When things get really fucking hard, that is when you need to push back against everything and stand up!
It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but no matter how hard life and my emotions were pushing down on me, I knew I just had to push back. If not, I would be stuck, with no control, forced to feel like the victim.
Exercise is about so much more than losing weight or toning, it can literally change your life and that’s why I think its probably the most important thing you can do for yourself.
Eating healthy, and I mean really healthy, was something that happened by accident, which is why I don’t believe in diets. I’m planning to touch on the process later but, once I stopped eating all the sugar, the takeaway, the processed foods, the crap, I started feeling SO different. I felt more energetic, I had better mental clarity and the effect that eating healthy had on my emotional state was almost hard to believe. Again, it was life-changing!
The way I was previously eating contributed to my lack of motivation, my feelings of sluggishness and my general displeasing view on life. But the crazy thing is that I didn’t notice any of this, until after I actually started eating healthy. It took me feeling better, to realise how unwell I was feeling beforehand. Changing my diet really helped me overcome the last little bit of my depression. And that is why, for those who have asked me, I find it so easy to be healthy. To me there just is no other way of fully living.
It was hard to see at the time how much of a difference exercise and health made, but looking back, I can see just how significant both were to my journey. Health and fitness are generally associated with looking good, but the reality is that it goes so much deeper than physical appearance. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from living a healthy, active lifestyle.