Managing Your Mental and Physical Health
- Newly surfaced photos of actor Jonah Hill, 39, show off his incredibly slimmed-down body.
- It seems he’s been able to transform his physical health by prioritizing his mental health.
- Hill’s Netflix documentary “Stutz” spotlights his journey to improve his mental health.
- Research published in Psychiatry Investigation Journal found that “depressed people had a 58% increased risk of obesity.”
- When it comes to dealing with anxiety, Dr. Marianna Strongin says it’s important to have a healthy relationship with your anxiety and get to know it rather than fear it, avoid it, or push it away.
Newly surfaced photos of actor Jonah Hill, 39, show the dramatic transformation he has had during his continuing weight loss journey. It seems he’s been able to achieve such change to his physical health by prioritizing his mental health – something people facing all kinds of health challenges can learn from.
View this post on InstagramRead MoreHill was spotted earlier this month enjoying the California sun with a different look from what people were used to seeing a few years ago. The actor, known for “21 Jump Street” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” now has a scruffy beard and a significantly leaned build.
Recognizable tattoos helped eagle-eyed fans confirm it was indeed Hill carrying a surfboard into a surf shop in Malibu, California. Hill wore a blue t-shirt, thigh-high green shorts, and slides on his bare feet.
Hill deleted his official Instagram account last year amid mental health struggles. However, fans of the star admired his weight loss on fan accounts showcasing the movie star comedian.
“Impressed dude! Looking good!! This is inspiring,” an Instagram user wrote.
Hill’s Netflix special “Stutz” gave fans an in-depth look at his childhood and his weight loss struggles. He shared how being overweight impacted his mental health.
“Stutz” shared an intimate conversation between Hill and his mother. Hill revealed his mom reinforced messages he was overweight as a child, which left a lasting impact on him.
His mother would often say things like, “You’re big like your dad,” not realizing what those words did to her son’s mental well-being.
“I was just doing what I thought was right,” Sharon Lyn Chalkin said in the film.
Hill revealed he “avoided exercise” into adulthood because of how it served as a reminder he was overweight growing up.
“Stutz” primarily recaps Hill and his therapist, Dr. Phil Stutz, working together to overcome the actor’s anxiety struggles. Hill’s anxiety attacks grew worse as his career progressed and, according to IMDB, “turned his dream job into a nightmare.”
Throughout Stutz and Hill’s therapy sessions, they engaged in a different approach than your traditional therapy method, in which you talk about your feelings. Hill credited Stutz for helping him accept the person he sees in the mirror.
Stutz uses the “life force pyramid” approach to therapy, in which he addresses a person’s relationship with their “physical body…with people, and their relationship with themselves,” media outlet Decider explained in its review of the film.
Hill also said he wished “diet and exercise had been framed through a mental health lens for him growing up, rather than as a problem with his appearance.”
“Through this journey of self-discovery within the film, I have come to the understanding that I have spent nearly 20 years experiencing anxiety attacks, which are exacerbated by media appearances and public facing events,” Hill described in an open letter sent to Deadline.
There are many life lessons we all can learn from Hill’s journey to prioritizing his mental and physical health. Many cancer warriors can find inspiration in focusing on their mental and physical health, as it can help improve their cancer journey.
WATCH: Treating depression after a cancer diagnosis.
The Link Between Your Weight and Mental Health
Your mental health can have a wide range of impacts on your everyday life. Positive mental health such as feelings of gratitude can help you weather life’s tough challenges. Conversely, poor mental health can actually make tough times worse.
Depression is a common mental health condition. It can impact how you feel, think, and act, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Research published in the Psychiatry Investigation Journal found that people suffering from obesity had a “55% increased risk of developing depression over time and that depressed people had a 58% increased risk of obesity.”
Cancer and Mental Health
As many cancer patients know, being diagnosed with cancer or disease can also conjure up a ton of emotions, including depression. In fact, the American Cancer Society says, “Feelings of depression are common when patients and family members are coping with cancer.”
SurvivorNet expert Dr. Shelly Tworoger also adds that other emotions that impact cancer warriorscan include “anxiety, depression, financial toxicity, social isolation, and PTSD.”
PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, and referred to the negatives thoughts and feelings someone experiences after a traumatic event.
Knowing the potentially damaging effects of poor mental health can hopefully inspire you to constantly work on improving your mental well-being.
As for Jonah Hill, he focused on improving his mental health by tackling anxiety issues. Hill’s focus on his mental health helped him improve his physical health.
Maintaining Good Mental Health
Psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin shared some simple tips to help you maintain good mental health and reduce stress in a healthy way.
When it comes to dealing with anxiety, Dr. Strongin says it’s important to have a healthy relationship with your anxiety and get to know it rather than fear it, avoid it, or push it away.
“By learning more about your anxious thoughts and tendencies, one can begin to answer their anxious thoughts even in moments when there aren’t any answers. For cancer patients, the worry thoughts tend to be, “Will I survive?” It’s important to let those thoughts come in and really be able to tolerate them before answering them. This is a very powerful coping skill,” Dr. Strongin explained.
Dr. Strongin suggests medications to help with anxiety and depression if other approaches are not as effective. She also urges cancer warriors to explore telemedicine.
“Every psychologist these days has a telemedicine option. Ever since COVID-19 we have all adapted our practices to telehealth and it can be incredibly powerful to be able to receive help from a practitioner in the comfort of your own home or while receiving treatment in the hospital. As a clinician, I find it comforting and connecting to be able to treat my patients and have an inside view of their life,” Dr. Strongin said.
Expert Resources for Prioritizing Mental Heath
The Value of a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining good physical health is just as important as good mental health, and this is especially true for cancer warriors.
SurvivorNet experts stress there is no “cancer diet” but proper exercise and a balanced diet can help you along your journey.
“I’m going to want you to be doing at least two hours a week of some exercise, and walking counts,” said Dr. Kenneth Miller from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Miller lists four simple guidelines to help cancer survivors lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Exercise at least two hours a week–and walking counts.
- Eat a low-fat diet. The Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study, which looked at early-stage breast cancer patients, found that a low-fat diet was associated with reduced risk for cancer recurrence, particularly in those with estrogen receptor-negative cancers. Other studies have found that foods with a high glycemic index that are digested quickly and cause a spike in blood sugar may lead to tumor growth in lung cancer patients.
- Eat a colorful diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. The American Cancer Society recommends aiming for two to three cups of vibrant vegetables and fruits each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that being obese can increase your risk for several types of cancer.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you find yourself struggling with a diagnosis or helping a loved one cope with their emotions, consider asking your doctor the following questions:
- How can I go about improving my outlook/mental health?
- Are there any activities I can do to encourage positive feelings?
- When should I seek other interventions if I’m still struggling?
- What are the steps to finding a different therapist if the one I’m using is not working out?
Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.