Written for & published by In Her Shoes Foundation (2013)
By Melissa Doman, M.A.
The journey we embark on to crystallize our professional and personal identity is an important path we invest in, and is constantly a work in progress. While we do our best to take care of ourselves emotionally and intellectually, we sometimes forget to tend to the most natural tool we are given that can reinforce our sense of self – our body.
Research has shown that if we make a concerted effort to take care of our physical health, we’re more likely to exude perseverance in our personal and professional goals. More importantly, people who have health and fitness as part of their regular regimen tend to adapt and move forward better from setbacks in their personal lives.
When setting health and fitness short and long-term goals, you’re practicing the mental tools of improving your self-esteem/self-image, resilience, adaptability, ability to concentrate on a goal, and accountability. Not only will your health benefit from your efforts, but you'll then see your discipline and hard work during challenging times is translatable across different areas of your life.
In addition to the fitness benefits you gain from a consistent health regimen, you’ll also experience psychological/emotional benefits as well. It has long been shown that consistent physical exercise can have a positive effect on overall mood and refuel the happy hormones/neurotransmitters that improve mood and provide positive reinforcement about your self-image.
Look at it this way:
Exercise -> create uplifting physiological reaction -> create positive emotions -> create positive belief in sense of self -> create courage to create/accomplish goals -> create confidence in who you are -> continue to exercise to maintain cycle.
Much like the struggle to push through a weight loss plateau, trying to get all A’s in grad school, going for a promotion at work, or cutting your 11-minute mile down to a 10-minute mile - developing these aforementioned traits will give you greater confidence in yourself, your overall abilities in different arenas of life, your perception of success, and how to continue on your path with valor.
People tend to have an overall idea that failure is something to be ashamed of, avoided, and is detrimental to our road to personal accomplishment and success.
I say we squash that notion.
The fact of the matter is that when we encounter failure, and we fall, it’s all the more inspirational when we get back up and continue to push. Remember – this is a work in progress and it’s perfectly ok to experience ups and downs. This ultimately shows that you take pride and value in developing your inner strengths through times of adversity as a person. Moreover, it shows that you put stock and value in your vessel (mind/body) that help you operate on a day to day basis.
I leave you with the words of a world champion athlete and Olympic figure skater - Peggy Fleming - who can say this best. “I think exercise tests us in so many ways, our skills, our hearts, our ability to bounce back after setbacks. This is the inner beauty of sports.”