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My name is Kent Paul (former Mr. Colorado) and I have been coaching individuals in the areas of health and fitness for 22 years. In my personal and professional experience the most overlooked and misunderstood area of human improvement is what I call “Emotional Fitness”. I believe this is the missing link to most people that struggle with getting and staying fit and healthy.
My definition of Emotional Fitness is the ability to channel all mental responses, such as joy, sadness, and anger, into positive outcome. In other words no matter what life circumstance that comes along we strive to find the good or positive that can come of the situation. In my opinion, 9 out of ten times our perception of reality is not accurate. Something that you may seem as a disaster may just indeed turn out to be a positive in your life.
Let me give you an example in my life. On October 21, 2005 I was in a car accident that left me with a fractured neck. I thought my life, as I knew it was over. I was in severe pain 24 hours a day. I went into a dark emotional depression. I did not want to live anymore because I thought I would never be the same again. My negative emotions had a hold on my soul so tight that I did not function for 10 months. It took my family stepping in and getting me the help I needed to start my entire life over again. During that time I had to change my thinking and my emotions or I would eventually deteriorate to the point of death. I had no choice but to learn how to view circumstances in a whole new light. This has led me to develop mental and emotional tools that help me have peace in life. I now have a life that I thought I could never have. I now look at life circumstances as neither good nor bad. I have a faith now that gives me peace that situations that occur in life happen for a reason and not to fight change in the world.
If I never had experienced that level of pain and darkness I never would have changed as a person and I never would have known true peace in living. I now look back and see how my self-talk and mental outlook caused my emotions to hit rock bottom.
Being human means that we are going to have ups and downs in life, there is no way around that. But there is a way to protect your self when tough times do happen. I had a nice conversation with Benn Farrell (sports writer for Douglas County News Press) last weekend about the tough time he has had this last year because of the passing of his mother. He wrote a nice article last week, I encourage you to read it if you have not done so. Benn had a time of darkness, as well, this last year but he is working through it by acknowledging is emotional state of being. He has learned, as I did, that our negative emotions could lead to self-sabotage such as comfort eating and drinking alcohol. As soon as he realized what was happening to him he started to turn to more healthy activities to fill the hole he felt in his heart. He started to get involved in music, friends, and exercise. He soon started to feel better emotionally and physically. He is now living strong again as I am.
When times get tough we all want relief or comfort. I ask that we all turn to healthy activities to fill the void instead of food, drugs, alcohol etc. Find positive activities that you have always enjoyed in your life and dive in to keep yourself busy.
Another story that comes to mind is a past roommate of mine. He was a man in his 40’s that wanted to get in shape and healthy. He would ask my advice all the time. I would repeatedly tell him what to do to get in shape and feel better. Day after day, week after week, I did not see him do anything to help him self. One day I sat him down and said what is the problem? He said,” oh, well. I will start getting healthy and fit when I get a girlfriend because I am a little depressed”. I said ok fine. A couple months later he got a girlfriend so I then said ok lets get going. He paused and said well I am still depressed because I am broke. When I get more money and feel better about my finances I will get fit and healthy. Finally he got a new job and started making more money. I went back again and said ok, lets go. He exercised and ate right for a few weeks and quit again because of other life stressors.
This is a great example of a lack of emotional fitness. He was waiting for life to be just right and feel good emotional before taking care of himself. He does not understand that life will always bring struggle but that does not change the fact that we can always exercise and be fit regardless of feelings.
My life motto is “Don’t let life circumstances dictate positive action”. In other words don’t let our emotions dictate the actions we take on a daily basis. IF you know you should do something, you do it regardless of how you feel that day.
Life is too short to let emotions determine the outcome of our lives. Go out there and be all you can be!!

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