I called my HOA today for the umpteenth time to try to get them to fix the concrete on my front doorstep. Instead of being demanding, I decided to be endearing and grateful. Lo and behold – I got what I asked for and more! Epiphany – if treating people well gets immediate, positive results why not extend the same kindness to ourselves in our quest for better health through nutrition and exercise?
Compare the principal that positivity produces results with our normal approach to health, wherein we are conditioned to think of nutrition and exercise as a chore, the means to an end of an unrealistic goal of a flawless physique. We motivate ourselves with hatred of our jiggly arms, double chins or love handles (be honest – you have an unflattering pictures of yourself as motivation); by fear of cancer and diabetes and shame at being part of the obesity epidemic. How is this working for us? Are we succeeding with this approach? Let me be blunt: negativity breeds failure.
I searched for a tool to developing a more positive outlook and I found this video from Sean Anchor which you can watch here:
I was immediately drawn to Sean's approach and research that I shamelessly adapted his 21-day challenge for being happier at work to 21-days to be happier with your body and health. In less than a week I felt better about myself and was exercising more and eating better with minimal effort. I shared it with a few of my clients who noticed similar results. Here are the details to the challenge:
1. Write down 3 positive things about your body or health for which you are grateful. This teaches our minds to see positives vs. negatives.
“I love my sexy back!”
“Sore muscles mean I am getting strong!”
“I am grateful that I can walk!”
2. Write down one positive, health-related happening from your day. This allows our minds to re-live a positive experience, floods our minds with the neurotransmitter dopamine which makes us happier and makes it easier to learn new habits.
“Passed up the bowl of M&Ms in my office lounge!”
“I am sore from an incredible workout with Dennis!”
“I have so much energy today!”
3. Exercise daily. This teaches our minds that our behaviors matter. I am a dietitian, not an exercise guru so I will leave details to my trainer, Dennis at www.fortcollinsfitnesscoach.com. However, I will share one tip I have learned about exercising is that If you make exercise fun, you are more likely to stick to it! Find an active hobby that brings you joy like playing racquetball or walking your dog. Re-frame your focus from “have to” to “get to.”
4. Meditate. This reteaches our minds to focus on the task at hand and retrain ourselves away from what Sean calls “cultural ADHD” This does not have to be a drawn out Zen hour. I suggest that my clients start with one meal per day (dinner is usually the best time). Turn off the TV, radio and cell phone. Put down the book, magazine and newspaper and just eat. Focus on every single bite. Notice how it tastes and feels and when you are satisfied. Take your time and push the plate away when you are satisfied.
Being mindful as you eat and stopping when you are satisfied is the simplest way to cut calories.
5. Do something nice for yourself. I am not talking about treating yourself to a piece of pie. Food should never be a reward! Treating yourself could be something intangible such as giving yourself a compliment, forgiving yourself for a slip-up, allowing yourself an hour alone to relax; or it could be something tangible such as treating yourself to a new song from iTunes or a massage.
Does this resonate with you? Are you ready to stop fighting against your body and start respecting it? I challenge you to complete these steps for 21-days and in so doing, change your body by changing your mind. Instead of investing your precious energy on negativity, focus the same energy on positivity and you will be transformed. Get your Pollyanna on! I can’t wait to hear your success stories! Please share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.