Q: Peter, first off I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me as we discuss the relationship between exercise and a person’s mental state. But before we get into that, talk a little bit about what you do and the path that brought you to this point in your life?
A: Sure thing Keith, thanks for having me. I’ve been in the field 40 years and during that time I got a LCSW, which is a master’s level degree and kind of the fast track to psychological practicing. I can pretty much do the same thing as a PhD but had to go through a lot less heartache.
Starting at a young age, I knew I had a natural ability in talk therapy, so when the time for schooling came it wasn’t about the credential, I just wanted to get the green card so to speak so that I could start practicing. There are about 300-400 talk therapies and the license gives me permission to work with any of those recognized, but I am kind of more self-taught. I’ve received an awful lot of training and have done a lot of reading but some of my biggest lessons have been from my clients. I started out with EMDR (Eye movement desensitization reprogramming) developed by Francine Shapiro, and the therapy mimics rapid eye movement sleep in a wakeful state. Currently, I primarily specialize as an attachment trauma therapist.
Q: Can you prescribe medication?
A: No, and I wouldn’t even want that responsibility, but I work in conjunction with physicians who can.
Q: What was it that made you want to become a therapist?
A: Well, you know there isn’t one of us in the field that isn’t recovering. We’ve all had our own axes to grind and I thank my mother for my career;-) So I had my own trauma background, but I was always a natural, even as a kid, being able to do some rough fashion of what I do now.
Q: You and I are fully aware of the value in exercise and understand how it positively affects so many aspects of a person’s life, but discuss with our readers more specifically how exercise can positively affect a person’s mental state and the relationship between exercise and a person’s mood?
A: Let me first say that there are 4 things that make you ok in life…Being a securely attached person versus being insecurely attached.
1. Stress hardy
3. New-found creativity
4. Acceptance of body image
Q: Just by looking at you, a person can tell you are a big advocate of health and wellness. Talk about some of the different facets of your life that contribute to you staying in the kind of shape that you do.
A: As I’ve mentioned to you before, when I look good, I feel good! I think that I have an innate desire to move, but not everybody does. For some people with a lot of trauma you couldn’t put a bomb under them in order to get them to move. In one of my past lives I was a hand writing expert. For instance, one indicator of a person’s activity level is whether or not a person makes lower case loopy “p’s.” If so, I know that person craves physical activity. Now there are a lot of other indicators you must compare it up against but that’s just one. Additionally, I’ve always exercised vigorously and go “balls to the wall.” That’s kind of how I live my life and at the age of 63 I feel it’s a necessity to have an anti-aging program. Exercise is a big part of this. When I turned 55 I decided to really get into exercise and at that time I hired a personal trainer. As a writer, I’m pretty sedentary outside of the gym and part of my madness is that if I go all out in the gym I’m going to need the down time to recover.
Q: What did you like about your personal trainer and what advice do you have for someone who’s looking to hire a personal trainer.
A: To tell you the truth, the first few workouts there was nothing that I liked about my personal trainer. I thought I was going to die. However, as my body adjusted to the circuit training, I actually started to crave the physical exertion.
As for hiring one, my #1 rule of thumb is they have to look good. If the person doesn’t look good, that’s your first clue. Next, I think you need a trainer that understands how to train the core as well as shape the body. If you’re not training the core, you’re missing the boat completely. So you have to be able to marry the two.
Q: What do you personally struggle with in your path to live long and strong?
A: I must admit that sweets are my downfall. Talk about being addicted to something, if I taste sugar I’m off and there’s no stopping me. So a lot of my effort is to stay away from that stuff. But once per month I will go to Extraordinary Desserts.
Q: Excessive exercise can be a bad thing and exercise can sometimes become an addiction. Is there a term to describe this and why is it that these individuals (who look great) are never comfortable with how they look?
A: Yes, there are a lot of disorders in regards to a person’s body, but generally speaking I think what you’re referring to is body dysmorphic disorder. In my experience, these kinds of people tend not to come into counseling. They’re pursuit of perfection is so strong that to step out of that for a second and come talk to somebody is very against the grain of what they’re trying to accomplish.
When you talk about an addiction to exercise I think what you’re really talking about is compromise. I measure addiction on how compromised is that person. Have they compromised their relationships or finances or themself legally & if you find someone who has a lot of compromise in their life, then they’re addicted in a negative way.
Over the past twelve years, Peter has been developing a trauma model and his recently completed written manual will allow him to go on the road and train people. Stay posted for Peter’s soon to be launched website and more information pertaining to the availability of his manual.
Peter’s office is located at 4452 Park Blvd Ste 304, San Diego, CA 92116
About the Author
Gym Owner and Personal Trainer, Keith Diedrich has a B.A. in Exercise Science and has been professionally involved in health and fitness in various capacities since 2005.
"My initial thought about Keith was that he seemed very casual and not as frenetic as other professionals. I quickly learned that he was gauging my stamina, movements, and technique. He wasn't after a fast burnout, but he wanted to exhaust every muscle every time. He said we were working on a "mind to body connection." With this connection I'd be able to gauge whether a set was 15 reps or 20 reps regardless of the initial "goal of 15!" I believe much of my gains came from Keith always seeing my potential even when I couldn't." ~ Saul "Mr. Biceps"