Physical Wellbeing & the Mind - Kimberly Thompson

When women want to be at the top of their game physically, they usually think of things like working out more regularly, improving their diet, increasing their water intake, and being more faithful in seeing their physician. I wonder how many women realize the huge role that their mind plays in physical health, particularly their attitudes and the beliefs that they have about healthy behaviors.

My mantra is: It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you believe about it. Mind over matter is a real thing. If you work on your belief system about health and well-being, you have a much greater chance of success in cultivating a healthy lifestyle.

Sure, there are some things that come against our body that we can’t avoid. That said, an awful lot of the illnesses that plague us have to do with lifestyle, and that is something we can change. Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are two “lifestyle” illnesses that are rampant.

Here are some ways that mind really is over matter.

1) If you believe that you can change your diet, your stress level, your exercise habits, and the way you comply with doctor’s orders, then you can. If you don’t believe you can, then you can’t. It really is that simple. You may stick with changes in your health behaviors for awhile even if you don’t believe wholeheartedly. But when it gets hard, if you don’t really believe you can, you will say to yourself, “This is not worth it. I am struggling so hard for nothing. I can’t do this.” And then you give up.

2) The difference between something that is stressful and something that is a challenge lies in your attitude. A challenge lies within your grasp if you spend enough time and effort. A stressor is something that you are doubtful you can do even while you are trying valiantly to do it. A challenge is interesting and exhilarating even if it’s not that much fun. A stressor is boring and upsetting.

3) How bad do you want it? Often the difference between success and failure when it comes to lifestyle changes is what motivates you. Extra poundage is not enough to motivate some of us. Being in the first stages of insulin resistance might be, though. Then there are those of us who cherish their junk food diets and couch potato ways far above their very lives. They may wish to be different – to feel different – to be back at the top of their game, but they don’t want it badly enough to work or sacrifice for it.

4) If you’re willing to look at a healthy lifestyle as a process, rather than something you do once and for all, then you’re more likely to stick with it. Well-being is not something that you do and then put a notch on your belt. It’s something that you keep doing over and over, day after day, year after year. It literally is a way of life. That’s why going on a diet is so ineffective at permanent body change – it’s an approach that works for one-time accomplishment (getting into that fancy cocktail dress) but not for ongoing health (staying strong, flexible, and active into old age).

If your mind is standing in the way of important lifestyle changes, here are some ideas to unblock yourself and get on your way to success:

* Adopt a growth mindset rather than a performance mindset. Instead of comparing yourself to others who are thinner, stronger, or in better health, compare your actions today with yesterday’s. Did you move more? Drink more water? See your doctor for that physical you’ve been putting off? Then do a little inner happy dance and take another step tomorrow.

* Imagine yourself succeeding. Take time every day to create a detailed imaginary picture of you living the life you’ve always wanted. Imagine yourself being able to lift, bend, breathe, or sleep peacefully all night. Hold that image in your mind constantly.

* Reward yourself regularly – but not with food or alcohol. If those are the only things you find rewarding, your life has shrunk down small indeed. Instead, make a list of small things that you love – a trip to the library or to the farmer’s market, a bouquet of flowers, a walk on the beach or in the mountains. Make those your rewards and do them often!

Change your mind … and change your future. Happy healthy living!