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Lamontagne: The power of pessimism

Stress Less

By Gabrielle Lamontagne

Negative thinking is a very powerful thing. French philosopher René Descartes once said, “I think, therefore I am.” So if we think negatively, we are negative people. Negative people are no fun to be around and tend to be more chronically stressed than optimists.

“Negative thinking is … tough to break sometimes and it takes time, like a habit,” said Oliver Cuell, general manager and head personal trainer at Wildcat Fitness in Durham. “It really does act like a road block, so if we can break through that road block — you know, break through it, jump over it, however you want to avoid it — and really focus on what you’re accomplishing, why you’re doing this, what you’re achieving from it, then at the end of the day when the dust settles … that’s when either you see the changes in yourself, in your body, you feel better, in your lifestyle. You’re in that routine that you’ve always wanted to be in; whatever it may be, they will see that.”

One way to offset such a powerful life block is through exercise. Stress and exercise go together well because exercise boosts eustress and helps to reduce chronic stress.

“While exercising, you can just forget about what’s stressing you,” Cuell said. “It’s a way for your mind to be distracted, a way to take yourself away from the situation where you’re feeling [stress] and take you to a better [place] where you’re going to feel better, relieved and refocused.”

Constant stress can be alleviated by following a consistent routine, taking classes or just going to the gym. A routine will re-energize and motivate you, which will help you become a more productive individual.

“The workout you’re doing to improve yourself and reduce stress: it all sort of works together,” Cuell said. “You’re getting the right type of endorphins, which make you feel good; you’re relaxing.”

According to Cuell, any high-intensity class will help take your mind off of your troubles.

Wildcat Fitness staff are always willing to help anyone understand how to use equipment or serve as guides to gym participation. Any form of workout is bound to improve your mental state of mind, as well as your physical health. Unfortunately, the gym does not offer discounts for personal training for UNH students since it is usually an add-on price to gym membership. However, monthly prices are varied and competitive based on the amount of services offered, with the highest monthly package price at $50 for a personal trainer, who can help with nutritional or work-out organizational needs. The gym also offers live instruction classes or video classes on demand that are projected in a studio. Having seen the selection, I can personally affirm that there are heaps and bundles galore of exercise instruction videos ranging from cycling through Ireland to Pilates and also varying in length to fit all of your scheduling needs. Not to mention that there will soon be a live-instruction boxing class, as well.

Exercise can help improve mental focus, self-motivation, confidence, distraction from stress and can lend a fresh outlook to problems.

“The key thing for me is that exercise is not just about the resistance, the weights, and the cardio and the nutrition combined,” Cuell said. “You’ve also got to [consider] how prepared you are mentally, how you set up for a workout, how energized you feel or how motivated you keep yourself.”

Negativity, however, can be a major impediment to physical and mental well-being. As a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, Cuell describes his perspective as, “the big thing for me is to take any sort of negative thought and turn it into a positive one. That’s going to help really drive you, and once you start doing that you’re going to start seeing results, really see things improve. It’s going to really add to your motivation and confidence.”

In the end, the important thing to remember is that exercise should not be an intimidating task looming over your head or just another boring chore to add to your list of to-do’s.

“I always think that having fun and working out should be correlated,” Cuell said.

So don’t spend your days just whining about class work and lack of sleep: Do something about it!

Gabrielle Lamontagne is a sophomore double-majoring in French and business administration.

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