Welcome to March! As we usher in a new month, we are redirecting our focus from self-care to another topic near and dear to my heart – mindset. This month we will dig deep into how our thoughts can either work for us or against us in our quest for health.
All too often we think of health and wellness only in terms of nutrition and exercise. What I have come to realize is that being healthy is so much more than this! To be truly healthy and well, you must first work on your thoughts.
“A Healthy Outside Starts on the Inside” (Robert Urich)
Working with clients has really brought this quote to the forefront. Rarely do clients come to me because of their mindset. Rather, clients approach me asking for help to work on improving their body, their outside.
Spending time digging deep into the barriers and challenges these clients face in terms of eating well and finding time to exercise, often results in a change of conversation around session three. It is at this point that the client becomes frustrated that the strategies are not working for them on a consistent basis. While the ultimate goal is an improved way of eating and finding time to exercise, it becomes apparent that our time is best spent focusing on something more foundational, their thoughts.
Have you ever paused enough in your day to realize what you are saying to yourself? All of us go through our days talking to ourselves. This self-talk can be either positive or negative. If we think thoughts that fill us up and bring life to our hearts and souls, our attitudes and behaviors follow in a positive suit. However, if our thoughts are negative, our attitudes and behaviors also follow in this negative pattern.
Stress eating is the perfect example of this. Having a bad day at work may solicit a thought such as, “I’m so stressed and overwhelmed. There’s nothing I want more than a big bowl of rocky road ice cream.” What end’s up happening? You stop at your favorite ice cream shop on the way home, get your favorite ice cream, eat it, and feel comforted.
Can you relate? Without a doubt, I can!
Can you see how changing a behavior, like eating better, doesn’t start with finding healthy recipes or buying healthy foods? It starts with your mindset. As soon as your thoughts sway towards “I’m stressed, I need ice cream,” your feelings shift to an “I don’t care attitude.” Ultimately, your weakness towards ice cream wins out.
So, getting healthy requires you to keep and maintain a healthy mindset.
How do you this this? It starts by being more aware of your thinking patterns. To really get an idea of what goes on in your head, get a small notebook and set a timer for every hour or two to pause and reflect on your thoughts. Write down what you are thinking and feeling at the time the timer goes off. Continue to do this awareness exercise for several days to get a clear understanding of the talk you have with yourself. Is the talk mostly positive or negative? Are there reoccurring negative statements you say to yourself?
Once you are more aware of your general thought pattern, you can then develop several positive self-thought statements to combat the negative thoughts. Let me give you a few examples:
Negative to Positive Talk Example 1:
“ I hate the way my body looks.”
“I am already beautiful. My body does not dictate my beauty!”
Negative to Positive Talk Example 2:
“I never have time to exercise.”
“I can make exercise a priority and be creative around finding opportunities to move.”
In order to see benefits from this exercise, it is essential that you write out your negative thoughts as I did above. On the right side of the paper, you then write out the positive thought to counteract the negative. Then, keep this paper with you at all times so that when those negative thoughts come, you can quickly recognize and redirect them. Overtime, you will no longer need the paper as a reminder of your positive thought. Rather, it will be so engrained into your thinking that it will become automatic.
This foundational habit will then serve you well as you begin to redirect your attention back to eating healthy and finding time to exercise.
Dear friend, if you are serious about getting healthy, start by making your thoughts your top priority. If you have tried to be more healthy, but know your thoughts sabotage your success, please contact me! Together, we will get your mind, body, and soul healthy.
Yours in Health and Wellness,