In trying to get healthy, or trying to convince yourself to get healthy, it’s easy to get stuck in thought patterns that don’t serve your best interests. Usually these thoughts begin because they offer the lazy way out, and evolutionarily we’re conditioned to conserve energy.
These thoughts masquerade as self-protective mechanisms and they might have been helpful at one time, but now they’re really just unhealthy habits to linger or the body to hold to onto extra weight.
How do I know? I’ve had them all myself, seen them in friends, and uncovered them in clients. After digging through, understanding, and dismantling these beliefs, results come quicker and easier that ever before.
Therefore, if you really want to lose weight, eat healthier, or experience meaningful changes in your life, it’s time to ditch these thoughts because they’re sabotaging your chances at truly being healthy.
“I just need a new / the right diet.”
I spent years trying diet after diet to help me lose weight and none of them worked, at least not in the long term. Why? Because finding the right diet wasn’t my issue. In the clients I worked with, discovering the perfect diet is typically not their issue either. (That’s why I recommended this).
More often that not, we already know what we should eat. But we don’t. So, it’s not a question of the perfect diet. It’s all the other stuff in our lives, our days, and our heads.
Eating right and eating healthier for many of us are tied up in our emotions, how we manage stress, the situations and environment we’re in, our habits, and in how accessible healthy options are.
So, rather than trying to eliminate all carbs or go vegan, consider trying a non-food approach to losing weight and getting healthier. Consider instead your habits, your self-belief, your stress levels, or how you’re influenced by people around you.
Is there just one of these you could change? Could addressing one of these make it just a little easier to eat what you know you should and avoid eating what you know you shouldn’t?
“I screwed that up! Might as well eat everything.”
There are many variations on this: “I messed up so I might as well give up even trying.” “I already failed today, so screw it! I’ll pig out now and start again tomorrow.”
This is very much a black and white approach, framing every decision as good or bad. But in reality, nothing is as black and white, good and bad, as it seems. Sure, you may have already eaten too much sugar, but that doesn’t mean finishing the whole cake is going to make you feel less guilty, and it certainly won’t get you closer to your health goals.
I hate to admit it, but this is one of problematic thoughts I frequently succumb to. It’s caused by a lot of complex emotions. The foremost of which for me are guilt and resentment. Usually I end up in this situation when I’ve been too restrictive with my diet, which causes me to feel resentful and angry that I can’t eat more of what I want. Then, when I slip up and eat something I told myself I shouldn’t eat, I feel guilty. And it’s that double-whammy of guilt and resentment that causes me to eat anything and everything.
These thoughts require reframing. Eating something is not cause for guilt, but rather an opportunity to experience pleasure. Eating outside of a meal plan is not failure, it’s exploration and self-discovery; it’s learning to listen to the body. Rather than thinking tomorrow is a new day, every moment is a new moment–to make a smarter decision, to make a better choice.
When these thoughts come up, the most important counter thoughts are acceptance, love, and forgiveness toward self.
This can be applied in many other health-related scenarios, too: exercising, smoking a cigarette, having an alcoholic drink, etc. Rather than “screw it, I’ll start exercising again next week,” try just 2 push ups before bed, or go to bed earlier and hit the gym the next morning. Rather than 1 cigarette leading to smoking a whole pack, smell that one cigarette–really smell it, taste it and listen to your body.
Then, accept, love, and forgive.
“It’s too much effort / too expensive to be healthy.”
Advertisements for exercise equipment make fitness seem like a burden–that’s how they sell their “simple” solution. Ads for weight loss pills and supplements scream at you to spend your way to health–but they just want your money.
In fact, being healthy doesn’t have to require a lot of effort and it doesn’t need to be expensive. There are countless simple things that can be done everyday to encourage health.
- Get off the bus a stop earlier or park your car at the farthest end of the parking lot.
- Remove the junk food from the house and replace it with veggies (pre-cut or pre-cooked, if it’ll help).
- Don’t buy (sugary, salty) snacky things; don’t keep them in your car or at your desk. It’s ok to be hungry for a bit.
- Swap out high calorie snacks with calorie-free drinks like tea or sparkling water.
- Tell yourself it’s ok to spend money on bottled water, and get that instead of a the sugary drink you would have had otherwise.
- Do activities involving movement you enjoy and don’t think of it as forcing yourself to exercise — play with the kids, go walking in nature, get the dog and you some exercise by having Fido chase you, bike to a new part of town, dance around your house, whatever you enjoy that includes movement.
- Put the candy jar out of sight (or at least on a co-worker’s desk).
- Involve your family and friends–we’re very much influenced by the behavior of the people around us.
- Visiting farmer’s markets right before closing can often mean steep discounts on fresh produce and eggs.
- Keep a glass of water on your desk to prevent confusing dehydration with hunger.
Most importantly, simply changing this belief will have a profound impact on your approach to being healthy. If you reject the notion that being healthy is expensive and requires effort, then it opens up a whole new set of possibilities.
“How can healthy be affordable and effortless?” “How can I eat healthy and cheaply everyday?” “How can I get fit without spending money?” These are much more empowering questions that open you up to ideas, solutions, and creativity. Then, it’s merely a matter of time until living well, eating better, losing weight, and feeling great fit into your budget and happen naturally in your life.
Our thoughts and beliefs are powerful influences on our reality. Fighting against those ingrained beliefs can feel like an impossible chore.
Reframing, changing your perspective, and eliminating limiting beliefs can have a profound impact on your intention to get healthy and the results you experience in your body and health. To improve your health, reconsider your thoughts.
Leave a comment: What thoughts or beliefs do you have about your health or your body that might be holding you back? And how can you reframe them to empower you to the outcome you want?