I love using motivational or pertinent quotes to inspire me to continue to improve my health. One of my favourites is the Nike slogan “Just do it”. It’s a handy one to tell myself when I start having unhelpful thoughts such as “I’m too tired to exercise”, “I don’t have time to look after my health”, or “It won’t make a difference to my health.”
These unhelpful thoughts are very powerful in creating inertia and keeping me stuck in unhealthy eating and exercise (or lack of exercise) habits. That’s where changing mindset or attitude is of fundamental significance in achieving health goals. It amazes me that the role psychology plays in assisting people to change their eating and exercise habits is minimally incorporated into the majority of health and weight management programs.
I sometimes watch the TV show the “The Biggest Loser” and I find it fascinating to see the barriers that contestants have in exercising and eating well. Progress only seems to be made when the mental barriers stop and the contestants start believing in their ability to change.
So how do you go about changing your a mindset that says you can’t change? First of all you need to recognize the mental barriers you make that stop you from realizing health goals. As Dr Phil says “You can’t change, what you don’t acknowledge”. Take some time to observe what you are telling yourself about food and exercise. Write it down so that you are aware of these unhelpful thoughts.
Next, there are many different ways to change the way you think. One technique is to think of someone you know (whether in your life or a TV personality) who appears to have good health habits. It could also be a personal trainer or a health coach. What do you think they might be telling themselves in relation to food and exercise? When you recognize an unhelpful thought, consider what they would be saying in relation to that situation.
But what if the mental barrier is actually valid? Maybe you really are continually tired or have a hectic schedule. If that is the case, that requires some brainstorming to figure out how to overcome these barriers.
Just like it may take time to build your fitness if you haven’t exercised in a while, changing your mindset can take time and practice, so don’t expect an instant transformation. Just start to free your mind from unhelpful thoughts and build up your ‘mindset’ and you will notice that results will naturally follow.
Food, Mood and Attitude © 2011