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Ep 10: Outside, In: How to Uplevel Your Life by Improving Your Body
Episode 109th January 2024 • The Holly Perkins Health Podcast • Holly Perkins, BS CSCS
00:00:00 00:26:21

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Today I’m sharing an important perspective on self-development: By improving your biology, you can improve your psychology. In this episode, I share the three concepts to help improve your physical and emotional state. I explain the impact diet and exercise have on your mood and provide a mindset exercise + tips for taking care of yourself. Life is better when your body is in tip-top shape — including life’s challenges!

First, I detail how I first entered the self-development world and why increasing my physical strength bolstered my emotional capacity. I share the link between blood sugar and mood and offer three concepts + action steps (including a mindset exercise!) to improve your biology and increase emotional resilience. This is my outside-in approach to physical and emotional strength. And now YOU have the inside scoop.

Try loving your body more by taking better care of it today. And see how you feel tomorrow.

Want FREE access to my brand new four-week strength training plan, Strength Without Stress? Head over to where you can upload a screenshot of your review and gain immediate access. This is a limited-time offer before it sells for $197, so be sure to grab it now!

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Topics Covered:

  • My “outside-in” approach to life-improvement
  • How behaviors can change biology
  • My self-development entrance while living in New York
  • The link between blood sugar and emotions
  • Three concepts to improve your physical and emotional health 
  • A mental reframe exercise + tips

Resources Mentioned:

  • See the research on ​​physical activity, mental health, and well-being HERE
  • See the research on the association between exercise and mood HERE
  • See the research on the evidence about physical activity and mental health HERE
  • See the research on generalized anxiety disorder and diet HERE
  • See the research exercise and mental health HERE
  • Listen to Episode 4 of The Holly Perkins Health Podcast HERE

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Disclaimer: Content and information as part of The Holly Perkins Health Podcast is for general interest, education, and entertainment purposes only. The use of information on this podcast or materials or products linked from this podcast or website is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical or mental health condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.


Holly Perkins 0:00

Exercise and more specifically, the improvement in body composition that comes as a result is medicine, not only for your body, but also for your soul. When you improve your biology through strength training and intentional nutrition, you can literally transform how you experience the world around you. It's like taking off your readers and putting on rose colored bifocals. If you struggle with mood disorders, depression, anxiety, or even just struggled to feel 100% confident and empowered on most days, you may have turned to self help books to improve your inner dialogue and self love. And if you've struggled to find success with this inside out approach, I'm going to teach you a powerful hack to uplevel your life by improving your body. So keep listening.

Holly Perkins 0:56

out there that odd years like:

Holly Perkins 1:41

This episode is all about what I feel is a very important perspective on self development. I am a huge fan of self development. It's something that I know very well. One thing I think that the self development and self help industry misses the mark on is the fact that you can literally and very directly change how you feel by changing your physical body. By improving your biology, you can improve your psychology. This is what I call an outside in approach to life improvement. And it's the origin of why I say it's important to create the body that you need to keep up with a life that you love. If you're struggling with confidence, self esteem or notice that you just don't feel as high on yourself as you used to.

Holly Perkins 2:37

This episode will be powerful for you, especially if you're over the age of 44 and you are around the menopausal transition. If you feel the weight of life and you just don't feel like yourself anymore emotionally. My perspective in this episode is powerful. The truth is you have the power to change how you feel, and how you see the world around you. In this episode, you'll learn that what you eat and how you exercise impacts your gut biome, and that produces the very neurotransmitters that impact your brain and dictate how you feel. You'll also learn that physical activity improves the functioning of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, otherwise known as the HPA axis, so that you naturally handle stress better and feel better about the things in life that are stressing you out.

Holly Perkins 3:39

You'll also learn that you can change your perspective of the things that happen to you in life, so that you become the thing that happens to your life. I believe that you have it within you to change your behaviors so that you change the very biology that influences the physiological chemicals, directing your brain, your mood, and your perspective on life. If you want to feel alive and on fire and empowered, and hasn't found success through self help books, it's possible you simply need to approach it differently from the outside in. When you combine self help practices with the right strength training plan, and a diet that literally improves your biochemistry, you'll be unstoppable.

Holly Perkins 4:37

So let's get into the episode so you can better understand my outside in approach to up leveling your life by improving your body. Throughout my 20s and 30s. I struggled to feel well both physically and mentally. Out of sheer desperation. I was willing to try anything and everything In and I did. It was then that I started exploring the inner world of self talk self love and mindset. At the time, I lived on the Upper West Side in New York City. And my favorite thing was to spend hours at the Barnes and Noble at 82nd and Broadway, which is crazy. It's still there 30 years later, and their self development section was huge, and I loved exploring all the books, it was like going into a candy store for me. So anyway, I started getting very serious about changing my inside my emotions, my psychology, self love, and just my inner life in general. I worked my self development practices for years and years and years. And while of course, it absolutely helped, it wasn't the sledgehammer that I really needed.

Holly Perkins 6:01

It wasn't until I got more sophisticated with number one, my strength training, and number two, strategic and intentional nutrition, that things actually really started changing. Once I found my feel good formula, I was on fire. As my body improved my perspective of the world improved. As I got physically stronger, I felt emotionally stronger. As I developed my physical resilience, I naturally had more mental resilience. As I transformed my physical body, I transformed my physical world reality. So there are three broad concepts that I want to address today and give you some actionable things to help you improve your biology. So that you get that chemistry driven boost that transforms the outer world around you.

Holly Perkins 7:04

A common mistake I see other women making is to recognize their inner struggles, and then take action to change those struggles by working either on their mindset alone, or on their deep emotional wounds. Now listen up, I want to be crystal clear on what I mean here. The Self Help self development leaders and experts out there will tell you that your external world is shaped by your internal life. And I totally agree with this, where I offer a different perspective is that trying to change your life by addressing deep emotional wounds from childhood, let's say, is really challenging stuff. And that can take years and years. And it's extra hard, because there is also a part of you that just doesn't want to go there. Or I really probably should speak from personal experience. That's how I experienced it.

Holly Perkins 8:06

Most of us don't want to dig up the deep emotional wounds or even minor upsets that we've had in our life, understandably, right. Our emotional wounds from earlier times in our life can feel terribly upsetting. And for some people, our lives can't afford the heaviness that comes from stirring up these upsets. I believe that is always good work if you're ready, willing and able to go there. So please do it's valuable work, and I believe in it. But I also believe that feelings follow thoughts. And that while it's hard to change how you feel and how to change your emotions, you can change what you're thinking about. Thoughts are malleable, and you're always able to find a new thought that feels positive, optimistic and empowering. How you think is how you feel. If you think good thoughts, you're going to feel good emotions. And if you think negative or sad or worrisome thoughts, you're gonna feel those things as well.

Holly Perkins 9:16

But here's a different perspective. We know from volumes of research that exercise and diet play a significant role in your biochemistry. This means that what you eat, and how you exercise impacts the gut biome that impacts the various neurotransmitters that impact your brain and dictate how you feel. For example, what when and how you eat either improves your blood sugar regulation, or causes poor gluco regulatory control. In simple terms, this means that your eating habits do directly influence your blood sugar slash blood glucose levels.

Holly Perkins:

If you want to better understand this, be sure to listen to episode four. When eating when you're hungry is backwards, I talk a lot about blood sugar regulation. Several studies suggest a relationship between nutrition and mental health. I've linked some of that research below. One very simple takeaway here is that when your blood sugar is unstable, you'll feel unstable. Unstable blood sugar is linked with emotionality, anxiety, depression, and mood disorders in general, all speak from personal experience here and I am a mess when I am eating in a way that causes dysregulated blood sugar, I literally look and feel like a crazy person. And after three to five days of being intentional with my eating and my nutrition, to specifically stabilize my blood sugar, I look and feel like a superhero. True story. It doesn't take much other than eating to regulate blood sugar. Now, that's my personal experience. But I also see this in my practice. And as I said, research supports this. So let's explore this just a bit, because I see it in my coaching practice all the time. Imagine that your diet is off track in a way that your blood sugar levels are erratic, even mildly unstable blood sugar causes fatigue, decreased mental focus and energy and adult mood. And let's say that you're unaware of this connection between your blood sugar and how you feel emotionally. After a while, you'll begin to think you need to address those mental and emotional symptoms that you're experiencing. And let's say you find yourself in the self development section of Barnes and Noble just like me, and you read all the books and you work on your self love your self talk and your positive mental attitude. What do you expect will happen if you don't also address the underlying blood sugar issues? Chances are that you'll notice some improvements in how you feel because of the self help and because of the thought work absolutely. But you'll never really conquer it unless you also address and fix your biology. And what I'm mostly talking about here is blood sugar. Now this is just one very simplified way to highlight how your eating habits impact your emotional inner life. And I could dedicate probably 15 podcast episodes to this topic alone. But for today, I just want to illustrate the idea that you can transform your life in big ways, simply by improving your physical body first. And listen. It is also true

Holly Perkins:

that if your biology is perfect and optimal, you may only need to address the emotions that are coming up. If you're in great shape, peak performance, eating for blood sugar regulation and doing all the things and you feel blue from time to time, when there is an obvious indirect cause. You may just want to grab your journal and start exploring what's upsetting you and why exploring the thoughts behind your emotions is powerful stuff and very important. And what I'm offering here is, we can lessen that load and make the work a lot easier if you first work on your biology to improve blood sugar regulation, which then impacts how you feel and how you think.

Holly Perkins:

Here's an action item for you. The next time you feel any old familiar negative mood stuff, or if you just struggled to feel good emotionally, try examining what and when you're eating specifically what you're eating and when you're eating. Is it possible that your biology is impacting your moods and your emotion? Of course I know it does. But I want you to explore this for yourself and ask yourself are you eating every four hours? Are you skipping meals? Are you actually having breakfast to stabilize blood sugar at the start of the day? Are you fasting until one o'clock and just having caffeine? Are you combining protein and carbs every time you eat? Do you need to cut back on caffeine sugar or alcohol? Start using your nutrition as a looking glass into your inner life. and emotions. Up next, you'll learn how to uplevel your life by rewriting your definition of yourself.

Holly Perkins:

But first, so another misconception you may have is that you've defined yourself by your emotions. For example, we all have a friend who believes that her lot in life is to be depressed, or negative or anxious. It's as if this is just how she is, or it's just how she was born. I personally believed this for a long time myself, I struggled with depression and mood issues for most of my adult life. And for many of those years, I actually believed it's just who I was, that I was a moody person or something like that. And again, if you believe that you're emo or have low self esteem, you might be inclined to look to self development for relief. That's what I did. It's all around us. And when we acknowledge and notice mood related or emotion related ripples in the water, if you will, there's a tendency to start to go to that and start to address those emotional issues through thought work or emotion work or self development. But instead, what if these were just symptoms of your daily habits, and that you could actually rewrite the script and change how you define yourself? Exercises medicine, and we know this from research.

Holly Perkins:

We know that number one, exercise is often neglected as an intervention in mental health care. This has been proven through research. Thankfully, doctors are getting better about this. And we do hear many doctors prescribing lifestyle modification to treat depression, anxiety and mood disorders. But still, mental health issues are most often treated as just that mental health constructs.

Holly Perkins:

We also know that number two physical activity improves the functioning of the HPA axis, which causes a reduction of cortisol levels, which then restores hormone balance. Once again, HPA stands for hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, and it reflects how the central nervous system and the endocrine system adjust the balances of hormones in response to stress.

Holly Perkins:

We also know that number three, exercise improves self esteem, cognitive function and mood and decreases the impact of stress. And our body manufactures opioids and endo cannabinoids that are linked to pleasure. In short, exercise increases the feel good chemicals that reduce pain and create a euphoric state. Again, some research is linked below.

Holly Perkins:

So if you're someone who is struggling with mood issues or self esteem, I invite you to reevaluate your current exercise habits. Have you been exercising consistently for the past four to six months? And be honest, yes or no. And if you have Are you including strength training, moderate state cardio, and some form of feel good activity like yoga, walking or stretching, exercise in general is important to improve mood states. But I'd like to add that strength training in particular is exceptionally powerful. As you improve your physical strength, you'll notice an improvement in your personal strength. When you feel strong physically, you'll be strong out in the world. When you improve your physical resilience. You'll notice more emotional resilience out there in the world that can be terribly upsetting and challenging these days.

Holly Perkins:

So your action item here is to ask yourself, honestly, have you been taking good care of your physical body so that it can take good care of your mental and emotional life? A good place to start is two to three strength workouts each week, every week consistently. With three to four moderate intensity steady state cardio activities, on the days opposite to your strength workouts that's important for you. And aim to include one or maybe two feel good activities like walking with a friend a loved one or a Pet, or something like yoga, or even just stretching.

The third concept here is to reframe how you see the day to day happenings in your life? Are you someone who believes that life happens to you? Or are you someone that believes you happen to life, and that life happens for you?

Holly Perkins:

Listen, it is really normal, to feel as if life is happening out there on its own, and that you are just left to respond to it. There was traffic on your way to work, and it made you feel frustrated, or someone said something insensitive to you and made you feel mad. Most of us feel as though the events in our life are unfolding without our intention or consent. And while it's true that there are things that happen in your life that aren't good, and indeed do happen to you, you still have a choice and how you want to respond to them internally. I think it's understandable for you to feel sad, or mad or upset when things happen in your life, you're human. And I can also tell you that you've got more influence over how you feel than you realize.

Holly Perkins:

The truth is you choose the response that you want to have to life's events. You can work to reframe how you respond to your annoying boss, or annoying co worker or you can upgrade the hardware so that your software operates differently. You can improve your physical body, the hardware, so that your emotions, the software run differently. Here's a great exercise for you called mind a recent event that upset you. Maybe there was something that happened over the holidays that made you sad or mad, frustrated or angry. See if you can recall how you felt at that moment. Now, let's reimagine that same event. Only this time if you were experiencing it again. You were super fit, super strong, energized and well nourished. If you reenact that same scenario with your superhero version of yourself. Can you see how you might have responded more positively? Isn't it true that when you feel awesome in your physical body, you handle life's challenges much more gracefully. Everything in life is better when your physical body is in tip top shape.

Holly Perkins:

This is exactly what I mean when I talk about and outside in approach to improving your life. When you improve your biology, your machinery, your hardware, your body, you automatically auto magically up level your life. If today you're feeling a bit beat up, broken down or burdened. Remember, simply taking a walk and eating a better meal is a huge step in improving your mental and emotional life. If you struggle with doing the inner work to love yourself more, try loving your body more today by taking better care of it and see how you feel tomorrow. Then come on over to the blog page for this episode at Holly And tell me what you discover. I'm cheering for you my friend. Stay tuned for another brand new episode on Tuesday of next week. Stay strong my friend.




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