“Mens sana in corpore sano,” a latin phrase, translated as “a sound mind in a sound body” or “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” This simple phrase is widely used across many sporting and educational platforms primarily to drive home the fact that physical exercise is an essential part of mental and psychological well-being.
The phrase can be traced way back to the Roman empire when a poet by the name off Juvenal was trying to teach his fellow Roman citizens the virtues that he believed the gods had bestowed upon them to enrich their lives in different ways.
Today, somewhat removed from its original context the phrase has acquired a range of different meanings. Some interpretations understand it as meaning that only a healthy mind can lead to a healthy body, then again perhaps it means that a healthy body can produce and sustain a healthy mind.
Whichever way you look at it, a healthy body, and a healthy mind, are inextricably linked; joined by an invisible thread that weaves them together and maintains balance.
For many people this invisible thread is enough to keep their mental well-being and self-control in balance. For others however, that simple increase in daily physical activity is not enough to produce a healthy mind, healthy body balance, they have a third factor at play, wreaking havoc and disrupting the natural balance.
Let us personify this invisible force – meet “ED,” the voice within, the first two letters of eating disorder and quite an apt description. ED doesn’t only cause havoc and influence your eating behaviours and eating habits, he is a lot more ruthless. An evil dictatorial villain that plays mind games with you. He does not care if you are healthy or not, in fact he plans to ruin your life in any way he can.
It is ED that tells you how fat and ugly you are, it is ED that tells you to climb on the scale and weigh yourself every day and then proceeds to taunt you when the needle moves in the wrong direction. It is ED that tells you how lazy, weak willed and undisciplined you are. It is ED that keeps telling you how that chocolate bar, butter croissant, french fries and margarita pizza slice will fix all your problems. It is ED that then persuades you to drink nothing but black coffee and water for the next few days to try and reverse the damage. It is Ed that keeps telling you about all the reasons why you cannot do something. It is ED that encourages you to spend blindly and use your credit card when your budget is already stretched to its limits.
ED is a cruel dictator throwing instructions at you all day long that you execute without question, like a mindless robot programmed to run someone else’s instructions.
So you have identified the villain, named him, and know all about the havoc he is wreaking in your daily life, disrupting the delicate mind-body balance that you so yearn to regain control of.
What exactly do you need to do to break yourself free from his clutches?
How do you end the mind games and reprogram your thinking to carry out your instructions only?
I am not going to pretend it is easy, we literally cannot drop a grenade and hope it will wipe out ED in one foul swoop. He is a wily bugger, an expert in the field of camouflage and deception, just when you think he is gone and you have finally rid yourself of his clutches forever he makes another unsuspecting appearance and thwarts your plans yet again.
The first step in freeing yourself from an enemy is knowing that you have one. Now that you have identified ED and know that he is there lurking deep inside the recesses of your mind it is time to formulate your action plan and find the solutions that you need to eradicate ED once and for all.
You need to build up a team of people, your personal support group that can band together and help you overthrow this monster. You cannot do it alone, ED is too strong and he keeps reprogramming your thinking and short circuiting your plans. Think about all the supportive people you have in your life that you can enlist friends, family members, health and wellness coaches, online groups, support groups, psychologists, dieticians, therapists, fitness instructors and other people who are fighting the same battles. Sometimes these people are a lot more experienced and can share valuable tips and advice. If all else fails start your own support group.
It will take some work, some grit, an action plan and a fail proof system. When you start thinking about solutions and start working hard at incorporating the new daily habits into your diet and lifestyle you will win. You will regain control and restore the equilibrium in mind body balance.
Perhaps if the Roman citizens had paid attention to the wise words of Juvenal many years back “Mens sana in corpore sano,” society as a whole would be a lot more balanced today with healthy bodies and healthy minds.