Like Body, Like Mind

Worth Living Ambassador Niko Colletti

Hey there! I’m Niko, 20 years old, of Southern Ontario.  I’m on a journey to find myself and discover what truly makes me happy, while continuing to learn how to function in this complicated world around me.  I was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at a very young age, and it’s been a long haul living with a brain wired so differently.  I intend to continue bettering myself while sharing my experiences with those who are feeling overwhelmed in their struggles, showing that with enough determination and patience, you will persevere no matter what demons share your company.

I’ve made a lot of progress in these last few months, both with getting my negative thoughts into a more manageable order, and developing strategies to help me maintain order in my life with my unmedicated ADHD brain. While I still have a long way to go in my recovery, this is the first time where I can truly see progress has been made, and I’m finally beginning to genuinely enjoy life for the first time in years.  Today I’m going to touch a little bit on my physical health, and how making some changes to my lifestyle have really played a role in a clearer head so far.

Between my visits to my therapist and research I did on my own time, I learned the importance of physical health in our ability to think and reason and how much it contributes to living a longer and fuller life.  Mental and physical health are equally important; you can’t have one without the other, and healthy living is not simply about thinking positively or eating salad every day.  There’s no secret formula, and no one-size-fits-all approach for everyone.  It takes work, persistence and determination to make a difference in your life.  Commitment is the best way to sum it up.  You need to be committed to bettering yourself and resilient to failure, as you will be weak at times and have to try again, but thats okay!  Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Changing your character takes time, and you will have to be careful choosing your actions. Remember, your actions become habits, and your habits become character. Before you know it, making healthy choices for your body and mind will simply be who you are!

About a month and a half ago, I started going to the gym.  Because of my lack of self-confidence, I wanted to try and change that by improving my physical appearance.  In addition, my therapist had made it apparent that while regular physical activity improves brain function overall, it makes a huge difference in those with ADHD, curbing impulsivity by a long shot, allowing clearer thought-processing and better emotion-regulation. This was enough for me to finally look into a membership.  By mid-December, I had gotten used to the machines and was religiously working out about five times a week.  The transformation already has astounded me!  Not only am I starting to see muscle tone, but as a result I am always hungry!  I started challenging myself to eat at least three sources of lean protein everyday to help put on size, and to help my ADHD brain function better day-to-day. I avoid sugar as much as I can.

As a result of eating healthier, I have more energy, and I find myself to be sharper than before.  I’m still clumsy but I find myself already generating solutions as I’m making mistakes. By the time I’ve messed up, I’m already correcting whatever it is that I messed up on.  I’ve started taking magnesium supplements to help regulate my emotions, and fish oil supplements to help further improve brain function.  I started doing all of this as a result of simply going to the gym for half an hour nearly everyday, and while I knew all of this was going to help me, simply starting to work out helped motivate me to further improve my health. Taking the first step is always the hardest.

While I enjoy going to the gym, I wanted to find other ways to be active that were fun and allowed me to learn a new skill and find a hobby I could enjoy with my friends, and make new ones!  About a week ago, I tried snowboarding for the first time.  I fell in love with it.  If  it was up to me, I’d be on the hill every weekend!  I love the thrill and for someone who has such a difficult time getting out in the winter, I am ecstatic that I found something to do that won’t keep me cooped up at home.  Even if I can’t get to the hill and I’m feeling down, going to the gym for a good workout always seems to get me into a better frame of mind.

I guess what I’m getting at is that healthier eating and regular exercise have helped improve my self confidence, physical health and brain functioning in the small amount of time its been, which is my motivation to continue!  As sticking to something is difficult for an ADHDer, I’ve been keeping track of my healthy habits, which I’ll talk about more in-depth in a future post.  Nothing good comes easy, and there are days where I feel like I’m sinking again.  If you’re reading this, you know exactly about what I’m talking. Just know that if you’re persistent and patient, you can make a habit out of everything and you will overcome what you’re dealing with. I promise, we’re all in this together!  That’s all for this month.

Don’t be afraid to give the gym, or that sport you’ve always been interested in a go.  Remember, starting is the hardest part.  It only gets easier and more enjoyable from here!  🙂

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”  -Jim Rohn

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