I’ve found that whenever I try something new or challenging, it requires a shift in my thinking, which in turn, creates a shift in my choices and behaviors. When I set out to improve my eating habits and get healthier, I was unprepared for the mental shifts required to make it happen.
First, I had to conquer the “I can’t” thinking. You might not be aware of how often you say the phrase–I can’t. I’m willing to bet it’s more often than you realize. Note the next time you say it, and ask yourself if it’s realistic or are you selling yourself short.
Here’s an example from my life. I’ve never been a runner. All of these years, I told myself–I can’t run to the end of the street. One day my husband, who is a marathon runner, challenged me. He took me to the local track and said, run! I was determined to show him my limitations so I trotted off, expecting to make it a few yards and then fall from lack of oxygen. As I began to run, I was surprised that my prediction didn’t happen. I ran and ran and ran. Before I knew it, I had made it around the entire track. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but resolved that I didn’t need to re-experience it again. Then he suggested I do it again. Argh! But I made it around the track again without much struggle. Yay me. I felt on top of the world. That day, I learned an important lesson, and that was to challenge myself anytime I think– I CAN’T. I’ve since gone on to run a 5k and actually enjoy running.
Next, I had to change how I view food. Most of my life I looked at food as a source of emotional fulfillment. I had to shift from seeing food as a source of enjoyment to a source of physical nurturance. I still love food, but I don’t rely on it for emotional satisfaction. I’ve found other ways to fulfill my emotional needs. I make mindful choices and am aware of my emotional states such that I’m no longer vulnerable to eating based solely on emotion. (read previous email on emotional vs physical hunger)
I never enjoyed exercising, but I’ve learned that I have to. It does amazing things for the mind, body and soul. Every time I try to convince myself that I don’t feel like exercising, I give myself a gentle reminder, that I need it. I focus on the positive benefits and how great I feel afterwards. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t get some form of physical exercise. If I’ve been sitting for an hour, I get up and move. I don’t look at exercise as torture of something that I should do. I see it as pleasurable and something that I want to do.
I’ve also learned to place higher value on my self. Eating out of control, not exercising, and giving up before I try, are all indications of a person who has low self-esteem and worth. I had to change that and did. I’ve learned not to people please and to focus on all aspects of my well-being–physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. Once I did this, with intention, I began to experience greater self-acceptance and it made other things a lot easier.
These simple yet, powerful mental shifts have helped me tremendously. Not only have I seen changes in my physical health, but I’ve also been able to accomplish more on a personal and professional level.
Here’s to your mental shift and improved overall health.