Emotions From Inside Out, Pt. 5: Stop Being Sad?
We made it! The final stop on our fitness feels trip through the emotions from Inside Out: Sadness! It might seem like a bit of a grim way to end our trip, but stay with me on this. Most people probably associate a fitness lifestyle with eliminating the feeling of sadness, and there is definitely validity to that. You’ve likely heard that exercise is one of the most under utilized treatment methods for depression and anxiety, to help you stop being sad. Let’s take a closer look at sadness and how it can impact you, in good and bad ways, before and during your fitness journey!
Emotions From Inside Out: Sadness
As one of the most highlighted emotions from Inside Out, we get to know how sadness operates. She’s slow, blue, shaped like a tear drop, sighs often, and seems to have a knack for pointing out what could, or did, go wrong. Throughout the story, sadness actually ends up being lost, with Joy, in the depths of long-term memory after tainting one of Riley’s precious core memories with her sadness. It seems like all sadness does is bring the mood down, like one might expect, and I think anybody watching Inside Out will be able relate the Debbie Downer in their life to Sadness’ character.
Like I mentioned earlier, fitness is considered to be a common method that helps us stop being sad. Staying active and eating the right foods tends to improve mood, and seeing results from these habits improves confidence. So how does sadness even apply to fitness?
If you’re on a fitness journey right now — think for a minute about how you felt prior to making the decision to make a conscious life change. We talked about this when we visited Disgust, but even prior to feeling disgust, most of us probably felt some level of sadness as a result of our overall health and lack of motivation to do anything about it. For many people, thought not all, food becomes a cure for sadness. Sadness can, of course, come from anywhere — a breakup, a death, financial difficulties…you name it.
When I recall the time in my life when I felt the most lonely, and sad, I know that it was also the time in my life I, for sure, ate the most take-out, and generally nasty food. I had just moved to a new place where I knew nobody, so I didn’t feel like I had very many social connections – but it was much easier to go to Taco Bell and KFC when I had free time than it was to take the time to put myself out there, and meet people. Tacos and fried chicken are delicious, and did a decent job of filling the void at the time, but when I started gaining weight, I had another reason to feel sad. So, what did I do? Ate more nasty food, of course. It’s a vicious cycle that’s extremely difficult to escape, and it’s one that precedes a ton of fitness journeys.
Alright, we know sadness is ever-present prior to a fitness journey — not exactly mind-blowing news, I know. We also know that eating well and staying active are proven ways to help us stop being sad…but is it possible that we could also feel sad while doing all the “right” things? Absolutely. Want to know what makes me sad? The absence of pizza in my life. I love pizza, and I cannot tell a lie — sometimes I get really sad when I have to say no to it.
When you make a true commitment to a fitness journey, you’re essentially giving up the “freedom” to eat whatever you want. Could you still eat anything you can get your hands on? Of course – nobody’s going to stop you, but you – in the event you care more about seeing results than you do about pizza and all its wonderful qualities *sigh*. Cheat meals are a great way to stop being sad about missing your favorite naughty foods, and maintain your sanity (provided their done correctly). Giving up this freedom to eat whatever, whenever can be very difficult for some people, and can certainly lead to feelings of sadness.
Since food is so delicious, let’s stick on that topic for another minute. Remember when I was lonely, and instead of feeling sad about it, just ate tacos and fried chicken? This is an extremely common strategy people use to avoid having to deal with the sadness and difficult situations they’re facing in life. If this is somebody’s former lifestyle, and they’ve now eliminated these bad, “comfort” foods from their life — what are they supposed to do when they feel sad? Working out might help, but what if they’ve already done their workout for the day, and they’re laying in bed thinking about their ex who just got engaged? It’d be an awesome time to head to the kitchen for some late night Oreos and ice cream, wouldn’t it? Not anymore. Now, the only option left is to feel. Since food no longer covers up the sadness, the only choice is to feel it. This can be very stressful for those experiencing it, but also therapeutic as well.
If you ever watch the major weight loss shows (Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, etc.), there is almost always a sad story behind each contestant that led them to the lowest point in their life, as a result of finding comfort in food. When the food they used to eat to stop being sad is no longer available to them, they hit a breaking point, where they need to talk about what’s really going on, and deal with it. While not everybody has a parent die, is a victim of abuse/neglect, or experiences some other traumatic event, we don’t generally eat excessively for no reason at all. So, what are you supposed to do about this? Feel. The answer is: allow yourself to feel.
So – Should You Stop Being Sad?
I don’t know that this counts as a SPOILER ALERT, but if you don’t want to know the overarching message (really, not a big deal) of the movie, you should stop reading now.
My favorite thing about Inside Out is the overall message that it delivers. The whole idea is that throughout the movie, the emotions, particularly Joy, work endlessly to make sure that Riley is always happy, and never has to experience any sadness. However, by the end of the movie, the emotions realize that sadness is actually necessary in order to have the full human experience. Without sadness, we can’t fully appreciate and experience, joy.
So, what are the final tips I’m going to leave you with today? I can’t forget to point out that if you have ongoing feelings of sadness that impact your daily functioning, you should seek guidance from a professional to help you work through those feelings until you feel equipped to handle them on your own. For run of the mill issues, however, the advice is simple — feel. Allow yourself to feel, every day. It’s OK to feel disgust, fear, anger, joy…and yes, even sadness. Experiencing all of these emotions along your fitness journey is what makes it difficult, and also, what makes it great.
Is there an emotion from Inside Out that you’ve experienced the most along your fitness journey? Maybe a different emotion that wasn’t represented in the movie? Have you experienced sadness creeping back in after you’ve changed your habits? Comment below — I would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences!
Until Next Time….
Founder: MCP Total Fitness