In this session we are going to take a look at different psychological habits that are common when starting out on a health journey - awareness is key here. If we understand why our thoughts are following specific patterns we are much more likely to be able to overcome them.
Introduction to Expectations and Limiting Beliefs
The experiences we have become part of the beliefs and values we hold – positive or negative. Our beliefs are what unconsciously govern the choices we make and the actions we take.
In this industry it is common that we come across dietary practices that aren’t sustainable which trains your mind to expect deprivation, restriction and suffering. When you push your body to the limit and force yourself into strict rules such as dramatically reducing calorie intake or avoiding “bad foods” the chances of making a mistake is much higher. This is a ticket for negative thinking and is the cause of many people’s bad experiences around their health and weight loss.
Lets look at an example –
Claire decided to follow the latest diet in the media which consisted of consuming shakes twice per day and only eating an evening meal. After just one-week Claire noticed a significant weight loss, that she hadn’t managed to achieve on her own. She believed the product was working; however, wasn’t feeling too good in herself, she was experiencing mood swings, she was feeling over tired and her skin was breaking out - so only managed to achieve 1 week. After that week her weight started to creep back on as she went back to her usual lifestyle choices. Claire decided to approach her weight loss using a different method and enlisted a personal trainer to support her. After 1-week Claire hadn’t achieved the weight on the scales she had expected due to her high expectations created from the unsustainable diet. She labelled herself as a failure and gave up training – only to try a different quick fix diet months later that followed the same pattern as before.
Claire now must overcome this limiting belief that she is a failure when it comes to her health and move away from the fact that she is only feeling motivated when making rapid progress. We are going to expand on managing expectations in our next session.
When we look at the barrier’s we face often our own limiting beliefs aren’t mentioned, however, play a huge role in whether we make this next attempt a successful or unsuccessful journey. Self-confidence is critical when making changes. Replacing these thoughts with beliefs that are going to support you and your goals will help you to live the life you want to live and be the person you want to become. It is worth spending some time to explore whether you have created any limiting beliefs for yourself and what these are. Awareness is key.
Introduction to Perfectionist Mentality
The perfectionist mentality can be a positive trait when it comes to our working life – everything we submit is always perfect and a mistake is unheard of. It takes you a little bit longer than your colleagues to submit a paper, but your Manager always knows it will be worth the wait.
A lack of knowledge around nutrition and fitness, plus a world where quick-fix and unsustainable diets are forced into our media causes the perfectionist mentality to spiral negativity into our fitness and health journeys - creating bad habits and limiting beliefs that can stick with you for a lifetime. When we don’t see our diet as a positive lifestyle change but a temporary measure to get to our end goal, we allow ourselves too much energy into creating a restrictive system.
“What is the maximum I can get away with, to get results as quickly as possible? After all it is only temporary so I can go all out – I can cut carbohydrates out of my diet, I can make sure I eat at a certain time, I can categorise food as good food and bad food, I can get up at 5am to walk for an hour before work, I can train 6 times a week etc.”
By setting such a restrictive and unsustainable plan they are almost certainly going to make a mistake, as a perfectionist a mistake is seen to be a really bad thing and the beliefs that they are no good at nutrition or fitness begins to manifest. This pattern is repeated throughout their life and every time a mistake is made the belief is reiterated causing unconscious patterns and behaviors that will destroy any other future attempts.
Making a long-term commitment to your health and nutrition rather than a temporary effort will allow you to perceive a bigger picture where blips are inevitable and accepted, so there is no need to terminate your efforts for the rest of the day, week or even month when we make a small, inevitable mistake.
Introduction to Emotional Eating
There are two types of hunger. Physical hunger, which is your body responding to the need of nutrients or fuel and Emotional hunger, which is eating for any other reason.
Every time we consume food our body changes physiologically our blood sugar changes, and our brain chemistry changes. Sometimes we crave these changes when put under stress, it is used as a distraction and to create a sense of numbness to the stress being put on us. If you respond to stress enough times by eating, you begin to create a sequence of nerve impulses that get more and more efficient as repeated.
Eventually, the nerve impulses become that strong that any time you come under stress you have an uncontrollable craving for food – this is labelled an emotional craving. Emotional eating is extremely common and can hold you back on your journey to health. We all have external stresses in our lives which sometimes can not be controlled - in these situations we need to identify a positive outcome to move towards, instead of a negative outcome to move away from. Replacing the emotional craving with another effective method of distraction such as taking a walk or changing your environment is a great tip to begin creating a positive response to stress.
If you can resonate with any of the psychological habits we have spoken about - begin creating an awareness around these habits and instead of instinctively reacting, take a minute to understand the reason behind this behavior and whether you want to choose a different path instead.