Change the way you think, and you’ll be well on your way to changing your health – and your life
The Power of Mindset in Achieving Health Goals
How often have you said, “The day just got away with me!” or “I just don’t have time!” before opting out of your workout?
The missing link actually has nothing to do with time. It has to do with the most underutilized muscle in our body: our mind.
It’s often the hardest muscle to tap into. You can’t do it in the gym, and you can’t meet it at the track. But it can be the difference between long-term good health and a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.
Unlocking the Potential of Your MindUnlocking the Potential of Your Mind
Mindset work is essentially the process of thought management. When you tune in and start paying attention to your thoughts, you can begin to identify how they shape you, what influences you, and essentially what you want.
These thoughts become the stories that are interwoven into our daily lives in the actions we take, with both positive and negative outcomes.
Shaping Your Thoughts for Positive Outcomes
For instance, smokers often associate with other smokers. They meet friends who smoke during their breaks, and they might reroute on the way home from work to buy cigarettes. Their mindset is that of a smoker, and their behaviour follows. The outcomes speak for themselves.
Imagine what you could do with a mindset focused on better health. You wake up and decide to become a runner. To become a runner, you must be a runner – you’ll need shoes and supportive socks, you need to find a trail or a route you like, and you might need a training plan and a device or app to track your time and distance. Those are the actions you take based on one thought you had – “I am a runner” – so you start to act like one. The outcomes also speak for themselves.
10 Mindset Shifts for a Live-Well Lifestyle
Here are 10 live-well mindset shifts you can make today to get your thoughts aligned with where you want to be.
Bookend your day with strong morning and evening routines.
How you begin the day can shape how the day plays out. When we wake to the news on the radio; an abrupt, alarming sound blaring from a phone; or a crying baby, we are thrown into chaos before we’ve had time to unscramble our thoughts. Consider waking 10 minutes before your family or setting your alarm to a gentle sound to help you ease into your day. Practice that same intention as you wind down. Instead of flopping into bed, exhausted with the news or a movie on in the background or scrolling mindlessly through social media, intentionally calm your nervous system for 10 minutes with a good book or a warm shower. Close the day in the same peace that it was opened.
Use the quiet of the morning to set the intention.
As you build your morning routine, decide how you want to show up in the world and define what matters to you. As you pour your coffee or lemon water, fill your mental cup with gratitude and tune into your goals. To go back to our runner example: how many miles will you get in today? Jot it down on a sticky note and place it on your mirror or in your car so you can be visually reminded of what you said was important to you before the world pulled you in every direction.
Sky before screen.
If you can, take your morning routine outside and let the fresh air help you start the new day. Allowing yourself to be sucked into clients, social media, your boss, your friends, emails, and text messages before you’ve prioritized yourself can cause you to make decisions that you just might not be ready for. Any negativity that comes your way will shift how you show up that day. Remember that you are the master of your time and where and when you give it.
Perfection is a lie and often goes hand in hand with all-or-nothing thinking, especially when it comes to food and fitness!
- The more restrictions and discipline we throw at something, the bigger the fallout will be. When we tell ourselves we’re never eating fast food again, it leaves us in a pickle when we’re on a road trip in the middle of nowhere with hungry kids and a flashing McDonald’s sign ahead. Shifting your mindset to making smarter choices instead will serve your health long term. Adopt the good-better-best way of thinking. “Good” is that you picked a grilled chicken sandwich or traded fries for fruit at the drive-thru window. “Better” is that you stopped at a gas station and found great choices in the refrigerated section. The “Best” scenario is that you packed your own food for the road trip. Instead of writing off the week, think about the next best thing you can do for your health.
Small shifts make for big changes.
- Identifying a few small, actionable habits you can start today will immediately drive momentum. When you drink one more bottle of water or walk for 10 more minutes, you’ll be more encouraged to do the same thing tomorrow, the next day, and the next. You’ll develop trust in yourself and confidence in what you’re doing. When you go all-in on day one and the goals are too big, you simply won’t do it again because you feel defeated. Start small and build from the bottom.
Two things can be true at the same time.
- Good health is hard at times, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. And it’s okay to be uncomfortable! Making healthy choices can be different from what you’ve always done and also still be effective. If changing your workouts to include more strength training is what your coach recommends but you’ve been a diehard elliptical fan for years, that can be a hard pill to swallow. It goes against what you “know”, “believe,” and what you’ve told yourself, but a good coach will find a way to weave in what you love once in a while. Believing that change can be hard and also worth it will push you to the next level.
We can’t turn good health on or off.
- There is no off switch, and your health doesn’t stop and start around vacations and holidays – your body doesn’t know if it’s your birthday or if it’s Christmas. When you shift your mindset to the long term and spend less time working on getting in shape for that one wedding/party/vacation, you settle in and remove time constraints and unrealistic expectations. When on vacation, you’ll start to want to go for a quick run on the beach as your family snoozes, and you’ll inevitably stop the cycle of crash dieting before swimsuit season. The intention, the ritual, and the habit are there, and consistency is the key.
- When it comes to living well, being aware of who brings what to the table will ultimately allow you to protect yourself and your goals. If you often say that you “don’t have time to work out,” look at where you spend your time and what or who sucks it from you. If you find that weekends throw you off your game, look at where you’re spending your time and who you’re spending it with. Start creating boundaries, clean out your friends list, turn on your sleep notifications, silence group texting, and remove yourself from unnecessary email lists. And literally, clean your house! It helps keep you organized while you clear your mental clutter.
Get a coach.
- When searching for fitness and nutrition help, always ask for credentials and references, since a good coach will have both available. Hiring a coach takes the guesswork out of the “how” and will solidify your “why,” freeing you up to just do the work. They will have a roadmap for you, and you simply have to follow it. They will offer support and accountability, provide you with different approaches and opinions, and be the driver of change with a like-minded healthy outlook on life that you can lean into.
Above all, living well means having fun and finding joy in your health.
- If you dread your run, your knees hurt, and you’re bored, it might be time to try a dance class instead. On the nutrition side, sharing cooking and meal prep with your kids could break up the monotony, or if you love your yoga, try finding a new studio. When healthy living is fun, you’ll do it, and you’ll do it more.