Mindset: The Secret to Making & Keeping Health Resolutions
by Maarten Van Nus
Have you ever really wondered why people start a fitness program or healthy eating plan feeling positive and inspired and yet – within only a short period – end up feeling frustrated, start losing focus, and then give up entirely, again and again?
Consciously, you know you want to feel better and you know it’s the right thing to do for your body and mind yet, for some unexplained but deep-in-the-soul reason, you fall off the path to fitness each time. Why does that happen?
Mindset is the key. Here’s why and here’s how to use it to have success.
The tendency to fall off a path to fitness could very well be because you are living with a disempowering belief system that doesn’t match with what you are trying to achieve.
“Crazy,” you say.
“No,” I say. “Profound.”
Our mind has significant impact on our body’s abilities.[i] What you subconsciously believe about yourself affects your self-perceptions and those perceptions most definitively affect your health and fitness abilities.
If, at your core, you believe you are a poor athlete, can’t control your eating, are ugly, can’t move, look funny, or any other demoralizing reason you can’t succeed at being active and healthy, you have a lot of negative self-talk in your subconscious. That negative understanding of what you can achieve in a quest for a healthy, fit body constrains you and will, often, cause you to sabotage your efforts, particularly when you don’t start to get the results you want.
The Body Follows Your Mind
You must start understanding that your body cannot go where your mind hasn’t been. In other words, consciously you want that fit body, that ideal weight, that strength, that healthy life, etc., but your subconscious belief or identity won’t let you have it. The subconscious is stronger than our conscious mind because it is the animal part of our brain. It is designed to protect us and keep us doing what is familiar and safe, which is based in understandings imprinted in the subconscious when an animal is young and still learning from its mother or caregivers.
The problem is that our human brains don’t just stop at the animal stage. We have egos, memories, and intricate communications that animals do not have and the way we bring up our young has changed drastically over time.
We develop both positive and negative impressions of who we are based on our interpretations of our experiences and we store those away and remember them. When subsequent events happen that reinforce those impressions (both positive and negative), the impressions become beliefs about ourselves that are engrained in our subconscious and we accept them as true without thinking about it.
Thus, your unconscious beliefs that you are destined to be fat, unhealthy, inactive, or need that tasty junk food to feel good, etc., work away at your conscious efforts to change your habits and activities to become healthier.
This is more than a psychological issue. Our subconscious beliefs affect us at a cellular level and affect our body’s reactions and actions, as well.
The Mind-Body Connection
To get technical, your body listens and reacts to a cascade of small chain neuropeptide amino acids released by the brain’s hypothalamus to dock in receptors in each of your trillion cells.
For every feeling we have, no matter what it is – good or bad – the hypothalamus has a peptide that mimics that feeling. These small peptides go directly into your cells and actually change the cell structure! Thus, it can be said that your feelings about yourself influence more than our psychology; they affect us at a cellular level.
Moreover, it doesn’t stop there. After a long period of feeling the same way about things or yourself, your cells actually become addicted to the peptide matching that feeling. They can actually send a message to your brain and fool you into doing what it needs to get its chemical fix. Then, over time, the only peptides that can enter the cell are the ones that match the addicted feeling, so your cells stop being able to take in all the things they need, like other feeling-related peptides and protein, to be healthy.
So you can now see how vitally important it is to change and then keep your feelings about yourself positive and life affirming. Over time, it becomes your natural way of thinking about and talking to yourself and embedding your new empowering identity. Your cells can then become addicted to the good feelings.
Changing Your Subconscious Mindset
So, you have a nasty subconscious mindset that is inhibiting your efforts to maintain your new commitment to health. What do you do?
The first step is to analyze just what identity you currently have around your health and fitness. Your identity is based in your beliefs and has evolved, in most cases, out of what other people – both authority figures and peers – have said to or about you. Maybe they described you as unathletic, uncoordinated, too small, too weak, or told you that you’d always be overweight, skinny, or weak.
Write these things down. Really take note of any word, statement, or event that caused you to take on a negative, wrong, or unhealthy self-image with regard to fitness and well-being.
Look at the list you’ve created. Those words, statements, and events do NOT represent the incredible, powerful person your REALLY are. You are strong just for embedding those wrong beliefs in your subconscious and continuing to live!
Look at the list and accept that it is time to let go of all those words, statements, and events. Decide to stop letting them define you. It’s time for you to consciously create a new identity to replace the subconscious identity that has hurt you.
So, how do you change that old identity to a new and empowering one? One that not only gets you started on a fitness and/or diet program, but also keeps you on it until health and fitness become second nature? You must change your subconscious beliefs!
I AM Statements
One of the best ways that I’ve found to support your new identity is to infuse your thinking with new positive “I AM” statements.
I AM fit.
I AM worth it.
I AM getting stronger.
These statements and others like them will get you thinking about and re-defining what you are capable of. They will slowly begin to crack the walls of that old identity and will seep in to instill new and positive feelings and beliefs about who you REALLY are.
It was and is never important what they said about you. PERIOD. It was, is, and will always be important what you say, feel and think about yourself. It’s time to take control and build your own identity, one that empowers you as the healthy, fit person you so deserve to be.
Building your new identity takes dedication. The fastest way I have found to get it started is to repeat what you would like your identity to be while you are eating and exercising
By simply using the two most powerful words in the English language: “I AM,” you are telling your body and its trillions of cells that at this moment, right now, I AM healthy, I AM strong. I AM youthful, I AM pain free. I AM (put whatever personal POSITIVE statement you wish here).
Investigate your mind-body connection by identifying the subconscious mindset you hold about your own abilities to be health and fit, decide to change your mindset, start consciously doing so by using “I AM” statements until they become subconscious beliefs, and your success at being healthy and fit will exist in your cells and your mind.