I’ve written on the topic of change before and I’m sure this is not my last blog on this topic, as deliberate change in our habits may be the biggest challenge that I, and most of my clients, have to overcome.
Why can change seem so hard?
Some people will say it’s a lack of will power or that you don’t really want it “bad enough” but is it really that simple? Do we need to have a “will of steel” or hit the proverbial “rock bottom” before we start to change our lives for the better?
What if there’s an easier, or at least, less aggressive, maybe even fun 😳, way to create lasting change?
I’ve been pretty open about my weight-gain-to-weight-loss-to-weight-gain again cycle and all of the struggles I’ve had with disordered thinking around food, exercise and my body image and, at my highest weight to date, I am the most fulfilled, and confident, than I have ever been 🤯!
I have made the greatest change of all, I’ve changed MY MIND!
And now I’m ready to have a body that aligns with my overall vision of holistic health so that I can have mobility in my 90’s (yes I plan on being a bad-ass centurion). But weight loss can feel pretty daunting right now if I focus on the pounds and I definitely don’t want to go back down the road of disorder, so I’m taking the easy route!
I’m starting my fitness journey in my head!
That’s right! I’m going to think my way to a healthy weight.
I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous and gimmicky but please hear me out...
Can you recall a time that you made a big decision that changed the direction of your life completely?
Most likely what happened was you thought about changing long before you actually made the change. You envisioned how great it would be to have different circumstances, whether it was a new job, a new relationship, a new home, etc. You played it over in your mind until the new scenario was so much better than the life you were living and you said “to hell with it it, I’M IN!” Or “enough of this, BRING IT ON”.
And in that moment, the decision was made and your life was forever changed.
What really happened though, was you practiced it hundreds, if not thousands, of times already and everytime you did, your body was catching up with your brain until both were aligned and you were ready. Professional athletes do this all of the time, they practice their sport on and off the field becasue it’s been proven to increase their skill.
This “dress rehearsal” that we do in the privacy of our minds often happens unintentionally when we are able to zone out. For example, when we drive the same way to work everyday, our brains become so used to the journey that they are able to turn off certain areas so they can conserve energy, which is our body’s ultimate goal so it can save it for when we need to run away from those tigers (or maybe our bosses 🥴).
Often this is when most of us start to ruminate about all of the things we need to do or worry about. One way I was able to identify my mental illness was when I recognized that I would spend my morning drives thinking about the death of my loved ones and I would often be trying to hold back tears so I wouldn’t ruin my makeup. I knew that (at the very least), this was unhelpful thinking. I was triggering the fight-flight-freeze mechanism in my body and would start my day off in stress mode.
Referencing the weight loss example, stress mode is the enemy of weight loss as it spikes cortisol, a hormone that causes us to become insulin-resistant which, in turn, increases blood sugar levels, so HELLO BELLY FAT! And even if this isn’t an issue for you, according to Dr. Joe Dispensa, stress has been linked to nearly 95% of all disease 😳.
So let’s talk about an alternative.
What if we started using this mental “downtime” to practice a new wonderful version of our lives just like athletes practice their wins. How would that change our future?
I’ve been practicing it with blind faith.
Everyday I meditate and I start by practicing gratitude, visualizing moments that have already happened that lift me to feelings of joy and appreciation. Next I take this feeling into future moments that I can maintain excitement for, kind of like being a kid on Christmas Eve picturing opening my presents the next morning instead of sleeping 😜, the lead up was even better than the main event most times. I give thanks for the moments I desire ahead of time with the positve expectation that I will, in the example of my health, run the ten mile race in October with ease and I will wear that gorgeous LBD again.
For some of you Uber-rational types, you may be thinking, “how do you know it’s going to happen? What if it doesn’t, won’t you be let down?”
I can’t prove it’s going to happen but I somehow know it will 🤷♀️. Either way, the odds go WAY up if I have the positive expectation. This is because our minds and our bodies will always try to align. By day-dreaming about being healthy, I’m finding myself making healthier choices, I’m choosing fruit over chocolate most days, green juice in the mornings and I workout 3-5 times a week.
And if it doesn’t happen, at least I’ve had several moments each day of joy, and in todays stress-full world, isn’t that enough in itself?
Any way I look at it, it’s a WIN-WIN!
Even if you don’t feel like you have the time or if you feel like meditation is not for you, why not join this experiment and use your driving time, or whenever that moment of rumination happens for you, and deliberately practice your ideal future? See if you can get some happy, exciting vibes going and, at the very least, inject a little more joy into your life and, if you do it enough, before long, you may just find yourself floating around on your unicorn inflatable in the middle of your indoor heated pool!
Always with love and light,