“Mens Sana in Corpore Sano”


I absolutely believe in the famous Latin quotation: “mens sana in corpore sano” (a healthy mind in a healthy body).

Without being obsessive, I have – over the past few months – tried to make some small daily changes to my life to ensure that indeed I do have a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Over time, I have realised something which seems quite obvious, but that I had to experiment on myself to realise how important it is: physical activity makes me feel happier. Once I overcome the laziness of getting out, maybe in the cold, wind or rain, I know that a 30-minutes run with my favourite music will make me smile and give me lots of positive energy. I usually run about 2-3 times a week, and, after running, I do some other exercises that I choose depending on what I feel like doing. I have in the past tried sticking to a more rigid training schedule, but I found that it absolutely does not work for me. My studies and work are stressful enough and full of strict deadlines, that I cannot take the pressure of self-imposing extra-duties on myself in my spare time.

My philosophy during my workouts is that I do what I feel like doing. I push myself only to the extent that I will always stick to 30 minutes running, no matter whether one day I go a bit more slowly or interrupt the running with brisk walking a few too many times and do an overall workout of about one hour. I don’t care, I know it’s still healthy and making me feel better. I don’t care what people may say or think. This is only about me. I don’t set goals for running, because I am not doing it to become a marathon runner or a model. I just want to feel healthy and happy! This approach has actually made me fitter, I have lost some weight and I feel happier with my body.  I have also definitely improved my resistance over the months, but in a way which was not planned methodically and therefore has felt like less of an effort.

I can say that I have achieved my 2011 goal of taking up running, which is something I feel very proud of. You can read about my 2011 resolution here: I did not follow the Couch to 5 K NHS programme for long, because I didn’t like the music. However, it inspired me and it helped me to understand how to run so now I do a similar workout to my own music which I update often to make sure I don’t get bored! Also, I have had a couple of long breaks from running due to colds, flu or simply ridiculous amounts of workload. But overall I can say I’ve been sticking to the plan!

My other philosophy of healthy mind in a healthy body is that I aim to go to bed as early as possible, at the latest by midnight. I have stopped studying late at night and I try my very best not to study after dinner. This is not because I have no more work to do, but because I can see that when I spend the night over my books, I feel unwell and I don’t sleep properly. I end up having a bad night and the following day not being at my best for more studying. Clearly, I am not the only one to believe this and it is scientifically proven that sleep is the best way to recharge your body. My best advocacy performances have been after a good night sleep and less hours of preparation. So I will try to stick to this and, before my exam on Friday, I will make sure I go to bed and sleep really well.

I once saw this book cover in a shop window and thought it was such a great title I had to take a picture to remember it:

“Riposarsi è giusto” means that ” It is Right to Rest”. I have actually just Googled the author’s name and discovered that the original title of the book is “The Power of Rest”.  I have also found out that Matthew Edlund is a doctor and writes a blog on WordPress with very interesting and thought-provoking articles: http://www.therestdoctor.com/, definitely recommended! I have not read the book, by the way, but thought the title reflected the topic of this post.

Now, I’d better stick to my plan and go to bed!

Goodnight!

A Scary New Resolution


(Picture from NHS Couch to 5K webpage)

Today I will be writing about a very unusual topic of discussion for me: fitness.

Why unusual? First, because I don’t find it particularly interesting and, secondly, because I am not a great fan of sport. I’d much rather spend my time discussing, reading and thinking about current affairs, travelling or philosophy just to mention some example. I simply do not enjoy sports. I guess I could say I’m rather lazy!

In addition, I don’t want to turn into yet another one of those bloggers following the ‘crowd’ of fitness-obsessed bloggers. I really don’t intend to turn running into my main life aim nor do I intend to make myself feel bad for comparing my perhaps ridiculously easy goal with other people’s.  I am not interested in running marathons or competing, this is all just about myself and my own wellbeing.

So, why am I now blogging about fitness? For quite a while I have been wanting to lose some weight and become a bit fitter. I’m not aiming to radically change my lifestyle as my focus in life is not fitness. I really am not overweight at all, however I am aware of being unfit and of how much better I would feel with a couple of kg less.

I want to be more active. I don’t care exactly how this will happen, but my starting point is to write about this on my blog – just so that my resolution doesn’t die off by tomorrow! I will try to keep some sort of diary to make myself accountable of my weekly physical activity. For today, I have discovered a UK NHS plan for running up to 5 Kilometers (3.1 Miles) after 9 weeks. This is the web page: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/get-running-with-couch-to-5k.aspx. I have listened to parts of the NHS podcasts and decided I liked them, so I have downloaded them to my computer. They sound reasonable and progressive. I like the idea of having a sort of ‘personal trainer’ who guides you during your workout without having the hassle or the expense of a ‘real’ one.

My next step will be to sort out my shoes and MP3 player (I might buy an i Pod), and next week I’m planning to start this program. I am a bit (actually, very!) scared of giving up even before starting (I know myself well) and finding all possible excuses to avoid running – as I know how embarrassed I feel! I also know this will be a massive effort considering how busy my weeks are while working and studying both full time. But I also know this is a reasonable goal and that I would feel very proud of myself if I were able to achieve it!

Now it’s time to go to the gym for a workout before starting the program next week!