Monday, 23 November 2015

Iron minds

A new show started on TV here last night
Called Iron Minds
The premise of the show is all about the correlation between physical and mental health
The show is presented by Niall Breslin
Better known as Bressie 
Bressie is the former lead singer of the band The Blizzards 
He is also a judge on the Irish The Voice
And has spoken out very publicly about his battle with depression and anxiety
Bressie is regarded as a well rounded individual here 
He also happens to be a 6'2 hunk which gets him a lot of female attention
But more than that 
He is just a really really sound guy
And genuinely wants to help others 

In recent years 
Bressie has turned to health and fitness to help him battle his demons
He runs, swims and cycles
Regularly competing in triathlons and Ironmans
To see if he could help others in the same position 
Bressie recruited four people from the four corners of Ireland
And Jade
And put them through a series of endurance challenges 
All under the watchful eye of medical experts of course 
All the participants had varying degrees of mental illness 
Jade suffered from depression and tricotilamania 
Both the guys suffered from depression 
And Orla probably had the saddest story 
She had recently lost her Mum to cancer
And her sister to suicide 
She is also a single mother
Orla is actually from my area
She is a Pilates instructor
And attended the same yoga class I did last year
I never really said more than hello to her
But I remember my sister saying that she was a cold fish 
But it turns out she wasn't 
She was actually dealing with a hell of a lot
Her whole world was caving in 
And was probably going around in a complete haze 
It just goes to show 
You can't judge people 
As you just don't know what they are dealing with
Someone who appears unfriendly or distant or cold 
Might actually be going through the wars
Usually if someone is like that with me
I usually presume it's me they don't like or don't wAnt to talk to
As I remind myself regularly 
It's not all about me 
This is a huge lesson
To make allowances for others 
You never know what is going on in their heads 

The four participants all had a base line of fitness
The all ran regularly 
And Mark was a former competitive cyclist 
So they weren't couch potatoes as such
At the beginning of the show
All four spoke about their illness
The crippling low moods 
The heavy feeling in their body
The weariness 
The feeling of being swamped by negative thoughts
I could relate to every word 
I thought they were so brave 
To go on national TV 
And talk about their deepest darkest issues 
It was clear that they all wanted to move forward 
And their strength and honesty shone through

The participants were put through a fitness test 
They were also tested medically and psychologically 
And deemed fit and well to take part 
They were under the care of a team of professionals 
And of course Bressie
Who was there for them every step of the way 
The next challenge 
Was to swim in a body of open water 
Bressie brought them to a lake in the Midlands 
And had them swim 1km
They will all very anxious about the task 
But were determined to finish it
The two girls did well
And completed the swim first and second
The guys however 
Really struggled 
And one had a mini panic attack half way through the swim
They had a mindfulness session 
And also cognitive behavioural therapy
I was blown away by their willingness to talk so openly 
It really was inspiring

At one point in the show
Orla hit a real low point
And was struggling to cope
The psychologist visited her at home for a chat 
She spoke of how she was struggling to get over the death of her mother and sister 
She was asked if her mother was there 
What her mother would say to her
Orla replied that she would say
'Relax and enjoy it'
She was then asked if her sister was there, what Orla would say to her
She had one simple question 
Why did you do it?
Why didn't you speak to one of us?
Why were you so proud?'
It was heartbreaking to watch 

A few weeks later 
And Bressie set their next task
To compete in a half Iron Man
Which comprised a 1km swim
A 20km bike ride
And a 5 km run
They were all extremely nervous 
But they had all trained hard 
And we're ready 
They all finished
With Jade coming first 
I could see they were on such a high
The feeling of accomplishment was clear to see on their faces 

I really enjoyed the show
And probably more so because I knew one of the participants 
I think the concept is a great idea
As I firmly believe there is a strong link between mental health and physical health
I can see it working in my own life 
I walk every day 
Lea especially is always keen to go for a walk 
And that's great for me
As some days it's hard to leave the house 
But I would never refuse my dogs a walk
I also started back swimming recently 
And go once or twice a week
I actually hate the thought of going swimming 
Having to organise myself to go
Getting in to the cold water 
And taking ages to warm up
But once I am there 
I really enjoy it
And I always feel great after pushing myself 
It's great for my mental health 
My confidence
Self esteem 
And it generally gives me a good feeling
I would also love to take up running
But my body doesn't seem to want to let me do that 
So I will stick to walking 

The show also showed 
How important it is to get out there and get stuck in to something 
Be that exercise
A support group
Being around other people is good for us 
It takes us out of ourselves 
It's talking to others 
And getting out of our own heads 
It definitely helped me see that I need to do this more 
Get out of the house
Get involved in activities 
Meet people 
Learn new skills 
I am a loner at heart 
But I also love people 
So it's something to think about 

The show is on again next week
So I wil update you then

With all that said 
I was wondering about you
Do you believe that there is a link between mental and physical health?
Have you seen that work in your own life?
Do you find that getting out and about helps you?
What role does exercise play in your life?
Inquiring minds want to know....


  1. I've said it many times, weight lifting pushed me into recovery and if it hadn't been for a trainer back home taking me under his wing I would have been worse off and even slower to recover. When you're there you can't just whine and be scared because then you're not going to succeed Mehr link between your mind and how much you can lift with your body is so string it's unbelievable. I've been staring at 190 pounds that I needed to dead lift and did it twice and then there's times I walk in feeling down and I can't even get it off the ground when just the week before I was looking at going for a new max. The body itself is far more capable than what our minds allow it to be and when I'm in the gym lifting it feels good because I have goals and I work hard to meet them. Not only lifting heavier things, I look so much more muscular and I have a confidence to me, thus assurance that I know it's going to be hard and I know I'll be struggling, but I can overcome everything I'm faced with its not always that way, but when I'm not seeing growth or results it's a direct link to my mental state and focus. In the case of fitness there are no excuses because you wear your discipline on you. There's no one to blame but me and I can step up or I can whine. It's such a, man, I don't know the world to use besides spiritual experience going in because you gave to acknowledge that you're there with your weakness and you have to lay that down and believe. Besides the mental portion, I've learned that truly, muscle does weigh more than fat and that the scale doesn't really matter, it's about the pinch test. I can be proud of my accomplishments in the gym and I can be proud of my needing to keep a healthy state of mind and working actively to pursue that. Weight lifting and bodybuilding have become a passion of mine that I never want to quit. It's a healthy "never enough" feeling because there's always goals to be made and as long as it doesn't become an obsession or I start taking steroids (not happening) it's a great outlet, especially when I'm counseling people and needing to release the negative energy from my clients. Being active is amazing and I fully support it.

    1. I love your story Eve
      It's so positive and life affirming
      You really are an inspiration to me
      It's clear from reading your comments
      That you are in a good place
      Physically and mentally
      And you have worked and continue to work so hard
      You deserve every bit of success and happiness that comes your way

      Love to you x

  2. I met another ex-bulimic a while ago and she said "I am like a dog, I have to be walked every day or I go nuts". I can relate to that. Exercise brings us into our bodies - and keeps me sane. I am so glad you did not delete your blog. Keep writing. x

    1. Ha!
      Love that Angela!
      I am so like that too!

      Thank you
      I will keep writing
      Good to hear from you
      And hope you are well x

  3. I firmly believe that sport has saved my life. When I was really ill, I played hockey and although the girls didn't know the hell I was going through, it gave me routine to my week and knowing that I was the only right-midfeild on the team gave me a huge sense of purpose.

    Last year, when I was in the thick of an eating disorder, I decided to take a shot at recovery. I knew that I wanted to be in London for my Master's, so I gave myself 15 months to get strong again. Part-way through that 15 months, I began to think about what I wanted to get out of being in London. Of course, I am here to study, but wanted to get involved with university life. So I decided that I wanted to row, and so at the beginning of this year I joined my local rowing club, and now I row for 14 hours a week for Imperial College London. It keeps me sane, I've met some lovely people, and overall, it has kept me well. I have a habit of working all hours of the day and burning out, so rowing each week forces me to stop and do something different. There's also the 'crew' aspect of rowing, the fact that we are all in it together, we all get cold together, have blisters together, laugh together. And it also forces me to keep eating, as I would not be able to sustain my training if I didn't. A crew of 8 women is only as strong as it's weakest link, and so if I am the weakest then the whole boat suffers. So yes, all in all, I am a big believer in physical health making such a difference to mental health :)

    Louisa xxx

    1. Hey Louisa,

      Such an amazing story!
      You are one of many who has said that sport has saved their lives
      I am so happy for you
      That you are well
      And you discovered something you are passionate about
      And yes
      That feeling of being part of a team
      And really belonging
      Does wonders for our self esteem and self worth
      Thank you for sharing this today x

  4. That show sounds awesome. I'd love to watch it.

    Cycling and running have often been a great help to me, especially when I'm making it a social thing and doing races or group events.


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