Most of us know what to do to lose weight, yet we still don’t do it. It seems so simple, just eat healthy food and get regular physical activity, but our weight loss goals get further and further away, making it almost impossible to think we’ll ever reach them. What gives?
Although it is definitely your consistent outward actions and behaviors that will determine your level of health, true change starts on the inside. So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?
That thing is mindset.
Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset. And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.
Health Mindset Study
Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.
Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers. What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active!
How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?
There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we’re less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn’t good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.
Researchers don’t know why, but what matters is that there is a positive, healthy mindset. So what can you do to boost your mindset for health? Try these strategies.
Think Health Versus Weight
It is extremely easy to make your weight loss a battle of you versus the scale. Especially for us women! However, a scale doesn’t provide the whole picture because it doesn’t differentiate between fat, muscle, and water. So, you’re going to get further ahead in developing a healthy mindset if you aim to achieve better health instead of a lower weight.
If you’re like most people, your weight fluctuates as much as five pounds a day, if not more. Therefore, it is easy to become discouraged when you did “all of the right things” yesterday, such as using your portion control plates and getting a little bit of exercise, just to step on the scale today and find out that you gained. Talk about deflating!
Although your primary goal may be to drop your weight, it should be focused more on health. This makes every positive decision you take a step in the right direction. And then you’re not focused on trying to make some square box that sits on the floor in the corner of your bathroom happy. You’re just helping yourself feel better and live longer, which is more satisfying of a goal anyway.
Good Enough and Have You Want (within reason)
Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. It’s inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn’t a great mindset to have. Instead, aim for good enough and if you need to have a treat just do it within reason.
Obsessing over perfect eating can bring on binging, shame, and guilt – none of these are great ways to get healthy and feel good about yourself. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally – one step at a time.
So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices more often instead of perfect choices all the time.
What if I told you that for the next week you can have anything you want, but you cannot under any circumstances have chocolate cake. You can have candy, pie, or any other sweet dessert but a piece of sweet and creamy chocolate cake is out of the picture. Now, what just happened?
Did you find that you suddenly craved a piece of chocolate cake even though you weren’t thinking about it until I mentioned it? If so, you aren’t alone. In our minds, the basis behind a diet is restriction. It is deprivation. And it is also what often leads to weight loss failure.
A healthy mindset doesn’t revolve around any of these things. Instead, it focuses on eating healthily most of the time, but also giving yourself a treat every now and again too. The key to doing this successfully is portion control.
Being a healthy person shouldn’t mean never enjoying the foods you love or feeling guilty because of it – even when it comes to chocolate cake.
Stop Making Trade-offs and Looking for Short Term Solutions
When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you’re making a trade-off. You’re telling yourself that as long as you’re good most of the week, you can go hog wild, face-down in a pizza on the weekend.
Now your mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You’re controlling what you do all week while thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Just live as though you’re trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. You’re doing your best, and that’s good enough.
One of the most damaging things you can do to your mindset is to try to convince yourself that your healthy changes need only be short term. For example, if you believe that you only have to watch your portion sizes or control your food intake during the weight loss phase, your changes aren’t the only things that are going to be short lived – your results will be too.
Having a healthy mindset requires that you realize that your changes need to be permanent. Therefore, you’re going to have to commit to doing things that you are okay with for the rest of your life; not just during the week, for the next month, six months or a year.
A positive mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health and there’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.
How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
Recipe (Morning mindset refresher): Chia Lemon Water
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ lemon, sliced
Add the chia seeds & lemon to your favorite water bottle. Fill to top with water. Shake before drinking.
Serve & enjoy!