Your Mind Matters….

I have spent over 20 years in the medical health industry. The grand majority of that time has been spent specifically working in the field of cardiac health.


As a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with a background in Athletic Therapy – my “training” has been on the physical. Understanding the human body from a physical standpoint, and how to help “fix” it.


I can teach you about your heart, about your medications and all the tests you’ve had. I can tell you the exercises to do and what to eat in great detail – all the physical aspects.


But what about your mind – how does that fit into this picture? 


I have spent the last few years focusing my learning on the mind. Spending a great deal of time deliberately working to expand my knowledge about the mental side. Learning how it is truly the star of the show.


Learning how the best steps forward towards improved heart health – are not 80% physical and 20% mental – but the other way around.


Your mind needs to be first on many levels. 


The top reason is your behavior. If you are struggling to make the choice to go for that walk, or eat that healthy food – it doesn’t do me or you any good to just keep telling you to.


You have to mentally be set up with the tools and the support to keep making those choices for the long term..


The second reason is how your mind physically impacts your body. 


Your brain is Grand Central Station for all things physical.


If we are working together to reduce your risk factors – manage your blood sugars, help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure – and you are stressed and not sleeping well… the physical efforts we are putting in are not going to be as effective.


There are many factors at play here… but stress alone gets your hormones working against us.


Take cortisol as an example. Cortisol directly affects fat storage and weight gain in stressed individuals – And this is just cortisol alone.


If we don’t address the mental stress… we will be fighting an uphill battle.


Last but certainly not least is the very real reality that most people struggle mentally in some way after a health scare.


Maybe it’s feelings of guilt, lack of confidence, self -doubt. Maybe it’s feeling unsteady about the future, changing relationship dynamics, the acceptance of a “new” normal – or figuring out what that new normal even is.


The depression rates after a heart event rise dramatically – let alone enhance overall anxiety and stress.


Although making healthy choices like exercising is a great tool to help cope with these mental aspects… it certainly needs more attention than simply telling you to go for a walk.


This takes me back to the beginning of this story. While my training is in the physical – I am learning more and more about the mental side of things and I am convinced it must be priority #1. 


My advice: Get mental support. Ask for help, look for professional counseling support.  It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help –  it is one of strength – and it’s so important.


I will continue to work towards providing more and more mental support in our programs.


So next time you see a mindset Monday post, the mind work we present in our courses, or hear me talk yet again about how you think ….


It’s not that I’ve forgotten about your heart, exercise, or nutrition – it’s that I know how foundational your mind is… –  it’s where your health story starts.


Sending you good vibes!


Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.