How Does Your Mind and Body Change When You Begin Exercising and Eating Healthily?

How Does Your Mind and Body Change When You Begin Exercising and Eating Healthily?

Have you ever wondered what effect exercise and diet have on your mood, energy and figure? Maybe you wake up tired in the morning, you’re still worried by your sweet cravings, and those pants are getting harder to button, too. Try to think about what your day is like. If you’re sitting at your computer from morning till night, pouring yourself coffee, and your diet consists mostly of highly processed dishes, you may have just run into your biggest problem. But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this. Our example, Michaela, was in the same situation. But she decided not to let that happen. Over the past year, she has brought regular exercise into her life, cut out junk food, eats mostly whole foods, drinks enough water, and can’t help but wonder what great results she has and she didn’t have to include any “effective” detox.

Let’s take a closer look together to see if she’s sped up her metabolism, as she wished, and what other differences she has noted. Maybe it will motivate you to make some small changes in your life, too.

1. More energy for all activities

Michaela cut out ultra-processed foods such as doughnuts, fast food burgers, candy bars and similar delicacies. She couldn’t help but wonder at what happened next. Thanks to the intake of high-quality foods with a balanced ratio of all macronutrients, she suddenly has enough energy for work, home duties and other activities. It is no longer the case that she gets the urge to have a nap after every meal.

Instead of driving, she walks, and has even found the strength to start playing sport regularly. The flood of endorphins after exercise gives her even more energy. She feels like she can handle anything now. It’s not enough to wonder how this always weary woman is changing before everyone’s eyes. [1-2]

2. Improved concentration

The fact that sport is associated with better concentration came to Michaela completely by accident. When the study no longer entered her head, she went for a walk. After an hour of walking outside, however, she returned with a clear mind and even managed to study some more. Studies even show that after twenty minutes of exercise, young respondents had a better performance on their maths tests. Physical activity has many positive effects on our brain. Exercise helps, for example, improve mood, sleep, reduce stress and also anxiety. All these factors also affect how we can concentrate. Who could fully devote themselves to study when they’re tired, stressed or feeling anxious? Reducing these negative factors is thus absolutely crucial for better concentration. However, the results of the studies also suggest that more active people have a larger section of the brain that controls thoughts and memory. [3-4]

Michaela already feels the benefits of active lifestyle. Whenever she needs to study and has trouble concentrating, she goes and plays sport, and in the end, everything goes better. However, exercise is also very important in older age. Studies show that physical activity may delay the decline of cognitive function in the elderly. These include, for example, learning, memory, concentration or speed of thought. In fact, movement causes more oxygenated blood to be pumped into the brain. This factor also contributes to the possibility of new neural connections, which delays the above-mentioned cognitive decline. [5]

3. Improved mood

What Michaela really loves about sport is the feeling she experiences after exercise. Even though she sometimes has days when she doesn’t want to, she still ends up talking herself into going to the gym, a bike ride, a skate, or at least a brisk walk. The surge of good cheer is worth it. We owe it to endorphins, which are chemicals often referred to as happiness hormones that the body releases through exercise. These induce similar sensations in the body to the known opiate, morphine. After exercise, one often feels euphoric and can enjoy a good mood surge. Happiness hormones’ sedative (soothing) effect in turn helps to reduce stress. Moreover, endorphins function to some extent as an analgesic. This means they are able to reduce the perception of pain. It’s because endorphins bind to the same neuron receptors as painkillers. This factors Michaela is also trying to use to her advantage. She found that moving even helped her with headaches and also abdominal pain before menstruation. [3] [6-9]

If you want to learn more about the benefits of individual sports, you should not miss the article about the benefits of cycling and running.

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4. Better quality hair and nails

Michaela’s improvement in the quality of her hair and nails is largely due to the dietary changes she has made. She traded her breakfast doughnuts for oatmeal with protein and fruit. She no longer spends her lunch break in a fast food restaurant, but in a kitchenette with her own lunch box. Well, for dinner, instead of having a pizza delivery, she prefers to make her own pasta salad with tuna. Thanks to these changes, she is able to provide the body with sufficient micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which affect the quality of nails and hair.

Michaela thus began to see after a while that her hair was significantly stronger, thicker, and also less likely to fall out. Likewise, her nails had finally stopped breaking. Moreover, having a sufficient vitamin intake also has a positive effect on bone health, which you will appreciate especially at a later age when its quality generally deteriorates. However, adequate protein intake as well as strength training contribute to greater bone strength and health. [10]

A balanced diet containing all the necessary ingredients is crucial for our health and appearance. To give you a better idea, we have provided a specific list of micronutrients that are directly linked to hair, nail and bone health. [11]

Vitamins and minerals for healthy nails

  • selenium
  • zinc

Vitamins and minerals for healthy hair

Vitamins and minerals for healthy bones

Improved hair and nail quality thanks to a healthy diet

5. Healthier and younger looking skin

Changes in diet have also been seen in another area, namely skin appearance. Michaela has started to avoid alcohol and is very careful to drink the necessary amount of water each day, i.e. 30 – 45 ml per kg of body weight. By starting to naturally include healthier foods, her acne, which had been bothering her for a long time, also improved. With a balanced diet, she has plenty of zinc, iodine, copper, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin A and vitamin C. [12-14]

Nor does she forget omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can have a positive effect on the skin. According to study results, omega intake is even able to reduce the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancers to some extent. Thus, she regularly eats, for example, fatty fish, walnuts, almonds or flaxseed, and if she did feel that any micronutrients were missing, she could include dietary supplements at any time. [12-14]

6. Eliminates headache

Headaches had previously been a common problem for Michaela. She no longer had hope that she would get rid of them. All it took was a little more focus on the water intake. She doesn’t start her day with coffee anymore. Instead, she drinks two large glasses of water as soon as she wakes up. Only then can she enjoy her morning lungo. During the day, she keeps a bottle on her desk so she won’t forget to drink. She also has other liquids, such as her soup, which Michaela eats regularly before her main meal. She takes her favourite pink hydrator for her afternoon workout, in which she mixes water with BCAA. This will enhance her drinking regimen with sweet taste, and the amino acids contained will also promote regeneration after any kind of exercise. She finishes her drinking regimen with an evening lemon balm tea to help calm her mind and prepare for sleep. The headache didn’t stand a chance, and Michaela can go to sleep undisturbed.

If you are interested in more information about why a drinking regimen is important, you shouldn’t miss the article How Does An Inadequate Drinking Regimen Affect Health?

A healthy diet and exercise can help with headaches

7. Better digestion, no bloated stomach

A bloated stomach was another problem associated with a poor regimen that bothered Michaela a great deal. Occasionally, she would get to the point where she was unable to fasten her pants in the morning. Her wardrobe consisted mostly of looser pieces of clothing to hide the problem. That didn’t make her very confident. How, you ask, did she get rid of this troublesome problem? Most of all, it helped to include smaller portions of food to be consumed calmly. She chews each mouthful thoroughly and no longer literally eats on the run. She also thrives on sports that can stimulate bowel movement and circulation. This may work to prevent constipation, which in Michaela’s case also caused a bloated abdomen. She also benefited from focusing on adequate fibre intake from fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods. This is practically essential for proper digestive functions. [15]

With regular post-lunch walks and better diet composition, she eliminated her bloated stomach and other digestive problems. This allows her to finally wear her favourite clothes again. [16-17]

If you want to learn more tips on how to fight a bloated stomach, you shouldn’t miss the article Why Do You Suffer From A Bloated Stomach and How To Get Rid Of It?

8. Eliminates leg swelling

Michaela’s feet and ankles were swollen all day in the office, and she took this as a given. She was all the more surprised to find that as she implemented life changes, the swelling and sensation of heavy legs began to decrease. Crucially, she began to drink more fluids, and so the body did not tend to retain water unnecessarily. It also helped to reduce her salt intake by eliminating ultra-processed foods from her daily diet. Michaela became more active during the day as well. At work, she made time for short pauses to stretch or walk around the office. At the same time, she stopped using the elevator and is taking the stairs instead. Even such apparent slight changes can help with leg swelling. [18-21]

9. Eliminates the constant hunger and sweet cravings

Constant hunger and sweet cravings can have many causes. The most common culprit, however, is probably from a poor diet. Michaela, too, had felt hungry after finishing her meal. And cravings? These accompanied her every step of the way. A combination of several factors was likely to blame:

  • inadequate drinking regimen – water partially fills the stomach and so can help regulate hunger and increase satiety [22]
  • consumption of alcohol – increases appetite and also the likelihood of choosing more calorific dishes [23]
  • protein deficiency – proteins are the macronutrient that have the highest satiating effect, therefore their lack in your diet may be related to frequent hunger [24-25]
  • inadequate fibre intake – its optimum intake affects the feeling of satiety, increasing digestion time, and also helps to control blood sugar fluctuations [26]
  • excess simple sugars – sugar rapidly increases blood glucose levels, which the body tries to regulate by producing more insulin, this can cause a further fall in blood glucose, hunger and cravings [27-28]

Michaela traded a poor salad for a quality meal, wine with dinner for water, began to eat more protein, fruit or vegetables with each meal, and reduced the amount of sugar eaten. And what happened? The constant hunger and cravings began to recede, eventually disappearing altogether.

If you’re interested in more tips on how to get rid of hunger and cravings, you shouldn’t miss our article How To Get Rid Of Constant Hunger and Cravings?

10. Looser clothing

Better eating habits, along with exercise, yielded results, and Michaela finally got the change she was looking forward to. Her pants have become looser, and she can fit back into the sizes she wore years ago. And what does it mean? She’s lost weight and it’s time to change her wardrobe. In addition to new skirts and jeans, however, she would need new sports leggings and T-shirts. This will help keep her motivated to exercise. She’s already looking forward to finally hitting the gym in her new outfit.

She achieved these great results even without having to count macros. It was enough that she followed the simple rules mentioned in the article Caloric Deficit: How To Lose Weight and Have A Life Of Your Own?

Firmer figure and less cellulite thanks to exercise

11. Firmer figure and less cellulite

Approximately 80-90% of women have cellulite, and so Michaela was certainly no exception. Still, she’s pleased that a better lifestyle has made its occurrence a little more moderate. Well, what exactly is cellulite? It is a metabolic disorder of the subcutaneous tissue where fat cells in the subcutaneous tissue grow larger, push towards the skin and produce typical dimples.

But when Michaela began to exercise vigorously, her muscles began to give the impression of an optically stronger figure. In the beginning, she was afraid that if she started exercising, she’d have muscles like Rambo, and she knows now that it was stupidity to think this, and that the worry was unnecessary. Conversely, her blood flow and lymph nodes in her body improved, to some extent helping to reduce the signs of cellulite. [29-31]

When you add an adequate water intake, more natural movement and focus on better eating habits with sufficient protein, you can soon see results.

If you want to learn more about what cellulite is, why it occurs and how you can reduce its manifestation, you shouldn’t miss our article Cellulite – What Causes It and How To Get Rid Of It?

12. Better physique

Brisk walks, outdoor runs, cycling and other activities that Michaela engages in are reflected not only in her appearance, better mood, but also in her physique. Catching the bus had previously seemed like a superhuman task requiring superpowers. It’s a matter of course for Michaela now, and she doesn’t really remember the last time a vehicle drove off in front of her. And if that happens, never mind. Michaela would take this as an opportunity to take an unexpected walk during the day.

If you want to start running, you shouldn’t miss the article How To Start Running? A Simple Guide For Complete Beginners.

13. Increased strength

Greater strength isn’t just so as to show off at the gym so that other exercisers can admire how much you’re putting on your barbell. It’s also a very practical thing to appreciate in everyday life. Our Michaela knows better. She used to only go shopping by car. When she needed to carry heavy groceries to the fourth floor without an elevator, she had to call on her stronger partner to help. But things are different now. She takes home the shopping as part of her fitness routine.

She regularly lifts weights at the gym, and some shopping bags are as light as a feather compared to the weights she loads on at the gym. It is no longer the case that her partner has to help her carry the groceries and water bottles out of the store, rather the opposite. They’ll voluntarily buy a few extra items to increase the load. Her walk home with the bags then resembles the so-called “farmer’s walk” where it gets pretty hard on the legs, arms and middle of the body. Her only concern is that the heavy bags of groceries don’t break. Without much problem, Michaela can now also chop wood, do heavier gardening, or sweep away snow in the winter. And all because of regular strength training.

14. Food is no longer the monster

When Michaela didn’t know what calories were and what different dishes consisted of, she lived in constant fear of food. She thought she would automatically gain a kilo of fat after eating cake, so she avoided all celebrations and social events. But then she was sorry to have lost moments with her loved ones, and kept her sadness at bay with food. In the end, however, she ate a lot more calories than she would at a regular party.

Fortunately, Michaela has more knowledge now. She figured out what macronutrients are and how the calorie deficit works. Although she lost weight first through small changes, she now wants to immerse herself further in the world of nutrition to get to know food a little better. She’s not afraid to have her favourite ice cream anymore. She knows she won’t gain a kilo of fat. It’s just about 200 extra kcal that can take away elsewhere and still be in a calorie deficit. This attitude completely changed her view of food.

If you want to indulge in your favourite foods, you should learn the magic of IIFYM. Read the article How To Eat Pizza, Sweets, and Still Lose Weight Thanks To IIFYM?

IIFYM: How to eat sweet foods and not gain weight

15. Better sleep quality

Countless factors influence sleep time and quality of sleep. Michaela always had trouble sleeping. When she got into bed, she began to think about study, work, and other daily duties. Occasionally, after a few hours staring at the ceiling, she would start stressing herself, that she would have to get up soon and have to fall asleep quickly to be rested. But the body did the exact opposite. These sleepless nights then had a negative effect on her energy, concentration and mood the next day. Since Michaela started playing sports, she goes to bed every night feeling pleasantly tired. Thanks to the good mood she still has from training, her daily problems seem very small. She knows that the next day she will solve them best, so she sleeps in the evening with good conscience. In the morning, she wakes full of energy, eager to face new challenges. [32]

Meanwhile, if you yourself are in a situation where you can’t sleep at night, you shouldn’t miss the article How To Fall Asleep Quickly? Try These Simple Tips For A Better Sleep.

16. Improved stress management

Before Michaela began exercising regularly, her struggle with stress was relatively unsuccessful. Though she often told herself that there was no point in stressing about things that wouldn’t affect her, they still greatly interfered with her life. That was killing her, and she spent her free time mostly at home on the couch with some treats. When she started doing more sport, she noticed that stress was far from controlling her life as it had been before. Before an important test or presentation, she can even use it to her advantage and perform better. Once her mind is full of worry at home, too, she goes for a run and slowly releases her problems. She then returns home with a clear head. How is that possible?

This is mainly due to endorphins, which flood into the body when it is active. As we said above, these chemicals are capable of alleviating pain and stress levels. In addition, sport can also reduce the level of stress hormones such as cortisol. Just twenty minutes of activity will help to make you feel better, according to the results of scientific research. We can all find time for that, can’t we? [33-34]

Better stress management thanks to sport

17. Strengthened immunity

In addition to a better psyche, Michaela noted that her overall health improved with regular sport. She’s not that often sick, and she can’t even remember the last time she had, like, a cold. Michaela’s conclusion that she owes it to sport are probably well-founded. Even the results of research show that regular activity has a positive effect on our immune system. People who play sport regularly are less likely to have viral diseases. Regular movement is such a great way to boost immunity. In the long term, it can also help us to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases. [35-38]

If you want to support your defences even more, give cold water therapy a chance. Read more about it in How To Get A Stronger Immune System Through Cold Water Therapy?

18. Better posture without back pain

Spending all day in a computer chair is definitely not the best thing for your back. This is all the worse if you are also sitting in an ordinary chair that is not designed for this. Even though Michaela had an ergonomic office chair, the pain in her lower back and shoulders did not escape her. The main cause of these problems were her flabby muscles, which could not provide enough support for her spine. Even this problem, however, can be solved by regular fitness training at the gym, with Michaela strengthening her back muscles and the entire middle or core of her body. In addition, sport helps her to move her stiff back throughout the day and improve her overall posture. There will be no more encounters with Michaela hunched over.

Furthermore, research results show that cardio activities such as swimming, walking or cycling also have a positive effect on back pain and posture. On the contrary, it is a good idea to avoid the unilateral burden that could create disbalance. We include golf or tennis among these less suitable activities. [39]

If you, too, are suffering from back pain, you shouldn’t miss our article Seven Tips On How To Beat Back Pain Caused By Extended Periods Of Sitting.

19. Increased sex drive

Unfortunately, fatigue, stress or low mood are known libido killers which can ruin a planned night of passion. Michaela knows better. Before her healthier life, she often did not have sex on her mind. To some extent, this was due to the increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes testosterone levels to decrease. And that, as we know, even in women, is directly linked to sex drive. Added to the fact that Michaela wasn’t comfortable in her body, it’s no wonder sex was rather the exception in their relationship. But that changed with regular exercise. Michaela’s figure looks better and better, which gives her confidence. Plus, she’s not stressing nearly as much, and she’s in a better mood and has more energy thanks to sport and a flood of endorphins. This is also reflected in her love life, which in the end not only makes her happy, but also her partner. [40-42]

20. Higher self – esteem and attractiveness

Michaela herself feels that something is different after the series of changes. Actually, not just something, but everything. She finally feels like she’s enjoying life, not just surviving. A perpetually tired woman becomes a confident beauty who has goals and does her best to achieve them. She cherishes her body, gives it quality nutrients and always finds time for movement. She knows that it is important for both her mental and physical health. A new approach to life has made her feel great, energized, and reclaimed her long-lost self-confidence. Even those around her are very positive about this transformation. Everyone wonders what magic Michaela did. She knows now that all she had to do was take better care of herself.

Higher self-esteem and attractiveness thanks to exercise

What should you remember?

As you can see in the example of Michaela, even small things can have massive positive consequences. There’s no need to kickstart your whole life. Try to gradually make small changes that will lead you to bigger goals over time. In the beginning, going for regular walks may be enough, and over time you might add strength training. You can also work on your diet. First you can cut out fast food, gradually stop preparing even home fried and fatty foods. The next step may be to reduce ultra-processed sweets and snacks. These gradual changes will then take you to a stage where you will feel better physically and mentally, which will affect your self-esteem and the overall energy you exude.

Do you have someone amongst your friends who doesn’t exercise, doesn’t eat healthily and still wonders why they are tired and doesn’t feel well? Share this article with them and maybe you can help them improve their quality of life. 


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