Continuing on our series about “why” we make the choices that we do, today we will be talking about internal messages. Trying to eat healthy, exercise, and make other good choices works for some people, but not most. It is those people who have the strongest “why” that get the most effective success. It is through the messages that we tell ourselves that we create our “why” that leads to the long term sustainability of our results. If you are one who has maintained a longstanding walk with wellness, chances are that you have learned to harness a deeper reason for your choices. Maybe it is to be a healthy example for your children or grandchildren. Maybe you have survived and illness and maintained health since because of new choices. Whatever your walk, there is always deeper “why” that creates sustainability. If you are one of those people, KUDOS to you for harnessing something that so many struggle with. Please pass this on to someone that you love who may be struggling to stay on track. Remember that at Heart In Motion, we not only focus on the physiology of food choices for optimal weight and health, but we feel that it is important to focus on the psychological/emotional/thought process piece of life change as well. All of our behaviors and habits originate from inside of us, so examining and working on our internal self is critical to maintaining our results long-term.
Have you every stopped to think about why you make the choices that you do? For most people, the answer is of course, no. We get busy and wrapped up in our lives and develop a lifestyle of autopilot, making choices mindless choices that we think nothing about, or making choices that we quickly justify so that we can move onto the next thing. Here is what I want you to understand…..every choice that we make originated with some thought process that then formed into a habit. The habit may be something that is now mindless, but it did not start out that way.
Think about your habits. Whether healthy habits like going to the gym or less healthy habits like overeating cookies before bed, they all started with a thought process. By reading this article, I want to open your eyes to the power that the mind has over not only our behavior, but our physiology as well. Try this, sit in your kitchen and start thinking about your favorite food. Imagine what it tastes like, smells like, and even looks like. Chances are that after doing that, you can almost taste that food and are starting to want it. That is a demonstration of the power that our thoughts have on our physiology. Just thinking about our favorite foods sets off a chain reaction of leptin, ghrelin, insulin, and salivary function. Yes, our thoughts have the power to control our hormones. It may sound crazy, but it is true. The more you think about something, the more you want it. This is the psychological/physiological connection between thought processes and actual behavioral choices.
Now that we have identified that there IS a connection, it is prudent to start to consider how this is at play in your own life. Do you do really well for a few weeks, even months and then slowly start to become “less motivated” and get off track? That is almost always due to a breakdown in our thought process cycle. Consider this scenario:
You are doing really well with eating and exercise and feel like you are getting into a good pattern. Out of the blue, one of your children gets sick. The first night, you order pizza for your family because you are too busy to cook. The second night, you order Chinese sweet and sour chicken because you just need something easy. The third night, you grab fast food sandwiches for everyone and maybe add in milkshakes because you’re just too tired and it made you feel better.
Do you see how quickly our thought processes break down when our lives are under stress…..which is by the way completely unavoidable so we should really be planning to protect our thought processes when stress occurs. Stress will happen, so learn to be proactive with your thought processes. Consider this alternate scenario:
You are doing really well with eating and exercise and feel like you are getting into a good pattern. Out of the blue, one of your children gets sick. The first night, you send your spouse out to the grocery store for rotisserie chicken and have him/her steam some veggies because it takes just as much effort to make a better choice and you know you will feel better to deal with your sick child if you feel better. The second night, you order Chinese steamed beef and broccoli with the sauce on the side because you know this situation is temporary and you can still make good choices. The third night, you grab salads from the salad bar at your grocery store and pizza for your kids because a chef salad is just as quick as making a fast food choice.
Do you see the difference in the 2 scenarios? On the surface, they just look like one person who “fell off the wagon” and one who didn’t, but look a little deeper. The bold statements signify the thought processes that drove the behaviors. Scenario #1 was more of a “victim mentality” thought process that allows circumstances to dictate choices. Scenario #2 is more of a victory mentality where the person understands that they ALWAYS have power over their choices.
I want you to read through this article and see if any of it rings true for you. Everyone has a level of thought process breakdown that leads to choices that don’t necessarily support our goals. It is when that pattern becomes a habitual cycle that it becomes a problem.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- If this sounds like you, spend some time alone thinking through your thought processes under stress. Write them down. Evaluate whether they are getting in the way of your sustainability. As outlined in the scenario above, our thought processes have great power to shape our choices. The first step is identifying them. That may take some time, but if you are watching carefully, you can spot them. Learning to shape your inner self talk is the first step to gaining control over your choices.