Change How You Think For Better Health
You will only take an action after your mind first approves it. And if you don’t have control of your mind, then your mind will be much more susceptible to outside influences and you will also be governed by neurochemical stimuli like when you get those dopamine hits from eating donuts, and from internal instinctual motivators like fear and self-doubt. And that never leads to good things.
A recent AI Fitness survey of 2,000 adults found that nearly 100% of respondents wanted to be healthy. However, nearly 68% said that because it took so much work to achieve the desired results, it felt overwhelming and so they would rather just avoid it altogether. And nearly the same percentage said they didn’t even know where to start even if they wanted to try. This means they become more susceptible to many of the fitness, dieting and supplement quick fixes that come and go, leaving them in a state of “weight cycling” – being caught in an endless carousel of dropping then gaining weight from inconsistencies in healthy eating habits and in exercise. So, what’s
the moral of this story? There are never any “quick fixes” to achieve good health!
Understanding Why We Struggle & Fail
Most everyone knows that consistent weekly exercise and eating healthy foods are the cornerstones to long-term good health and there are hundreds of medical studies to back that up. So why is it that less than 20% of our adult population meets the minimum 21/2 hours per week of moderate exercise? Because, as was said earlier, it takes work, discipline and perseverance to eat right, exercise and stay healthy.
Problems occur because most people who develop and practice bad habits probably do know better, but they are not long-term thinkers and if their behaviors do not have immediate negative consequences, then they do not perceive that their actions are detrimental to themselves. They are not thinking five, ten, twenty years down the road; they are just living day to day. And, according to entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn, “…failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day.” The sky didn’t fall on us because we gorged on pizza and beer and just hung out and played video games all week, so all must be good! Well, we shouldn’t become complacent about our health because failure’s most dangerous attribute is in its subtlety.
Four Mindset Changes That Will Transform Your Life
After saying all of that, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. But it is important to understand what you are up against, before you can make those waypoint changes. Here are four ways to retool and rethink, so you can get on the right mental track for a sustainable, healthy life:
1. Be Aware and Understand the “Motivational Triad”
Our super-powerful middle brain, called the limbic system, is the area of our brain that keeps us alive day after day, and contains our emotions, memory and our present-time “fight, flight or freeze” motivators. It is our protector, but it also is very risk-averse. Here, our three main survival functions called the “Motivational Triad” reside. They are:
- a. To seek comfort or pleasure.
- b. To avoid pain (mental or physical).
- c. To conserve energy.
These three basic and primitive survival functions often get in the way of us practicing healthy behavior because much of exercise flies in the face of these three motivators, and poor eating habits are sustained because it is more pleasurable to eat that tasty comfort food! But thankfully, as humans we also have a higher functioning neocortex that allows us to reason and overcome the primal urges to lay low or eat bad. So if you are ready to hit that snooze button instead of go to the gym, you’ll at least know what is motivating you to do so.
2. Think “Infinite” Not “Finite” Develop a core Life Mission Statement that becomes your ultimate driver. This infinite approach to your life will sustain you through many tough times and will keep you grounded on your lifelong health journey. For example, saying, “I want to lose 30 pounds in 6 months,” is a finite approach, and is fine as long as it is a goal that fits within your overall Life Mission. Saying, “I want to be healthy and athletic for my two grandchildren,” is taking the infinite approach, and gives you a much stronger and emotional “Why” to reference time and time again.
3. Reprioritize Your Health! If you ask most people what their top three priorities are, chances are that their own personal health isn’t on that list. You only get one body to live in, and you can’t trade it in for another, so why is your health not ALWAYS your number-one, top priority? The fact is should your health fail, then it may not matter what your other priorities are. So reshuffle and keep your health at the top of the list. Create keystone habits that are the support habits that bring other areas of your life into order, and you’ll find that those excuses that previously kept you from exercising and eating well go away, and you’ll make time to do the right thing!
4. Adopt a Training Mindset Exercising hard when you’re tired, or eating raw broccoli instead of a PB&J sandwich can sometimes suck! But the military has a term that all of us should adopt – to “Embrace the Suck!” Not everything goes well, but if you are of strong mind, you will overcome obstacles instead of stopping short of them. Just embrace the things that can move you forward, even though you may not want to or feel like it.
Once your new mindset gets you back on track and you have a solid Life Mission Statement to shoot for, make sure you develop a plan and persevere by continuously working to overcome bad habits and become the best that you can be by growing mentally and physically stronger just a little bit more each and every day!
Article by Greg Mackey, Director of the 3LIFE Wellness program and co-owner of Pure Core Health and Fitness in Mishawaka.