We are constantly inundated with nutrition tips, exercise strategies, diet plans and ever emerging weight loss and health trends. Some work, most don’t….at least not long-term. But there is another very important element when it comes to diving into a health improvement or weight loss regime that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves….and it is one of the most popular underlying reasons why the more stressed and busy we are, the more difficult it is to reach our health goals.
Mindset is simply the story we keep telling ourselves in our head. It’s our attitude towards the different elements of our life and our inner belief whether something is achievable or not. The bad news is, if we don’t take control of our mindset, it can derail us from reaching our goals very quickly. But the great news is, we have TOTAL CONTROL over our mindset. We have the power to adopt a positive mindset over a negative one. It takes practice but it will be so worth it!
More and more research is showing that the health of our mindset is one of the most accurate predictors of the future health of our body and mind. Without the right mindset, any health improvement or weight loss change will constantly feel like you are pushing a boulder up a very steep hill!
Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study. Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s different states of health and their nutrition and lifestyle habits. What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active! How is this even possible that people who simply believed they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true? Well there are a couple of likely reasons….
One is that perhaps if we feel like we’re less active, within our mind we are not happy with our efforts and we feel down on ourselves which results in feeling stressed. And we know that stress isn’t good for our mental or physical health. We all likely know someone who has had to fight a serious illness, perhaps cancer right? Think about how often important it is that these people adopt a positive attitude towards their treatment and their survival. I was one of those people!
At the young age of 26 I had to undergo a rigorous treatment regimen for Hodgkins Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which thankfully has a high cure rate. My oncologists, nurses, family and friends all imprinted on me the importance of “staying positive”. And I did. As difficult as that journey was, and as vulnerable as the experience made me feel, I chose to wake up every day and “think positive” that my treatment would work as planned and I would one day get my health and life back.
Which I did! I 100% believe that, in addition to the amazing care I received, my unwavering positive mindset helped to keep my body strong, keep my stress hormones under control and ultimately aided my recovery.
Second, there may be a bit of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” at play. Often when we tell ourselves something over and over, even if it isn’t true at the time, we end up manifesting it become a reality. This highlights the power of the mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes. Similar to how our mind tells our gut when it needs to prepare for digestion when our mind starts thinking about devouring that next, tasty meal. Researchers don’t fully understand all the reasons why or how this works although more and more research is coming out to back up this connection the more we learn exactly how the body works.
So, if you are looking for some extra motivation to get you into the right mindset to stick to a health improvement or weight loss regime, let me give you a couple of strategies to help you do just that.
Positive Mindset Strategy #1 – Aim for “good enough”
It is next to impossible to always eat perfectly seven days a week. If you are constantly obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything you eat or drink, you are not doing yourself any favours. This type of constant perfectionism wreaks havoc on your stress hormones which can lead to binge eating and feeling unnecessary guilt and shame. Yes, you want to be AWARE of what and how you should be eating and living but if you have the occasional slip up here and there, let it go! Remember the 80/20 rule! Do your best the majority of the time but allow yourself room to slip up on the rare occasion. Your mind will appreciate the flexibility to be human and this will help keep your mindset in the right place to succeed. Focus on getting healthier by making better nutrition choices and building better lifestyle habits ONE STEP AT A TIME. Health improvement and natural, sustainable weight loss needs to be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint! So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, try aiming for “good enough” to empower yourself to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.
Positive Mindset Strategy #2 – Stop making trade-offs
How many of you have followed a diet that promises a “treat day”?
When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you’re making a trade-off, you’re telling yourself that, as long as you’re good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend. Unfortunately that kind of thinking is not good for your health mindset because it is jumping from one extreme to the other. You’re controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Without realizing it you are branding eating healthy as “punishment” and going wild on the weekend as a “reward”.
Unfortunately, we see this mentality even when raising our children. How often do you hear a parent say to her child, “if you eat your vegetables, you can have ice-cream for dessert.”?
What we are essentially teaching our children is that vegetables are the enemy and ice-cream and sugary treats are our friend. Neither our children or ourselves should adopt this mindset. Because when we do, it will make it all the more difficult to believe that eating healthy can also make you happy. Instead you want to live as though you’re trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. You’re doing your best, and that’s “good enough”.
In summary, our health mindset can be a powerful tool to achieve healthy, sustainable weight loss and long-term mental and physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure and continues to evidence. Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.
So ask yourself, what is YOUR health mindset? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life?
Here’s a simple but refreshing beverage recipe you may also want to try!
Recipe (Morning mindset refresher): Chia Lemon Water (Serves 1)
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ lemon, sliced
Instructions: Add the chia seeds & lemon to your favourite water bottle. Fill to top with water. Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Shake before drinking.