Monday, June 1, 2009

Mind Over Matter: How Your Mind Can Affect Your Body

             I used to be one of those people who, like many others, were obsessed with losing weight. My mind was consumed with thoughts of looking “perfect” and fitting into that dress hanging in my closet that I hadn’t worn in five years.

 I’d let my compulsive, negative thoughts take over and get to me so much that I’d weigh myself three, four, or sometimes even five times a day. My behavior was crazy. It was unhealthy.

 That’s when I recently realized that being healthy doesn’t have to be so stressful and difficult to achieve. Sustaining a healthy body shouldn’t feel like a never-ending, horrifying chore. It shouldn’t feel like work… it should feel good, shouldn’t it?

That’s when it hit me. So I made a vow to myself to try to stop all those “bad” thoughts and habits, and began treating my body a little more nicely, a little more positively. And that’s exactly when I finally started seeing some real results that I-and all of you-deserve.

Here are 4 simple steps to help you use the power of your mind to get the body (and positive body image) you’ve always dreamed of!

1.   Reward Yourself:

Holiday’s and birthdays shouldn’t be the only time for presents. If you’re working your butt off at the gym, or finally lost those last five pounds, pamper yourself a little. Buy yourself a new pair of running shoes or treat yourself to a relaxing manicure. After all, you deserve it!

Little perks like this will also help keep your mind in check and keep you motivated, making your workouts a little more fun. You’ll be more apt to continue with your routine as well!

2.   Be Your Own Coach

When it all comes down to it, in the end it’s just you and your mind. You can’t rely on anybody else to be your personal coach or cheerleader. Even if you have a personal trainer or gym membership, it’s up to you whether you go or not, or how much effort you put in to your workouts.

So, think positively and tell yourself “I can do this! I know I can.” If you lie in bed, putting yourself down or tell yourself you’ll never be able get out of bed for your morning run, you most likely won’t be able to. Remember: you’re mind is a very powerful tool.

Rather, have some faith in yourself and think you can accomplish anything, whether that’s running your first 5K or completing a Boot Camp course. If you envision it and imagine it, then more likely than not, you will do it.

3.   Be Easier on Yourself:

People (myself included) are far too hard on themselves.  Whether it’s pointing out personal flaws or stressing over those last few pounds, we are usually our biggest body-critics, and that’s no way to be. You wouldn’t tell a friend he’s fat and needs to loose wait, would you? Most likely not… so don’t be so hard on yourself.

You’ll be much happier if you think more positively about yourself, complimenting the things you like about your body. That may be acknowledging the fact that you have nice, toned arms or strong legs that enable you to run for miles. If you have trouble reminding yourself of these positives, make a list and look at it when you’re feeling down.

This will help you begin to love your body and make you a much happier person in the long run. And remember: be patient. Results don’t happen over night. But, if you stay optimistic and upbeat, you’ll see results much faster than if you were complaining and consumed with negative thoughts 24/7.

4.   Take a Breather:

Lastly, remember to relax. Your body and even your mind need a break sometimes as well. If you think too much about loosing weight or squeezing into those skinny jeans, you’re just going to get stressed out over it…and the results most likely won’t come.

But, if you continue to practice healthy habits and keep up with your routine, results will come much more quickly. And if you have a minor slip up, so what! Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Studies show that unhealthy stress can actually lead to weight gain, so take a breather. 

Whenever I stop analyzing my diet and give my mind a little “vacation,” I begin to see real results. In fact, when I went to Italy two years ago, I was stress-free and wasn’t thinking about my diet or exercise, and actually ended up loosing five pounds! So, I’m living proof that giving yourself a break can work for you too.

It’s like the old saying, “When you’re not looking for it, it will show up.” Well, that goes for your body as well. When you’re not thinking about it, you’ll start to see some results.


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