With the New Year now in full swing, many people are either trying as hard as they can to stick to the resolution they made a few weeks back…or they’ve already hit the alarm clock one too many days in a row and decided “maybe next year.”
After working with hundreds of clients over the years, you’re probably not surprised to hear that of the 45% of Americans that make resolutions, only 8% are successful in actually achieving them.
Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the idea. People tend to make super lofty goals without developing a solid action plan, often focusing on just one area of wellness and not the whole picture.
Last month I did an interview with a local business regarding my thoughts on what overall wellness really looks like:
As a nutritional consultant, it’s evident that you value the importance of food-specific nutrition, but what other factors do you think contribute to overall wellness?
Even more importantly than how or what we eat, I believe our thinking has the biggest impact on our health and wellness. I have clients that can eat the best diet in the world and still feel lousy because they are full of fear, anger, unforgiveness and/or bitterness. Our thoughts impact our hormonal systems, so if we are constantly thinking negatively, our stress hormones increase in our body and end up wreaking havoc in the long-term.
Wellness is such a broad term that we often equate to simply looking like what society deems as thin. In reality, I’ve worked with several people that outwardly appeared “skinny” yet silently really struggled emotionally or mentally. So determining how well someone is requires taking an in depth look from every angle, versus just basing it on how they appear on the outside.
As the New Year comes around, so many of us make a goal to lose weight or look better. Do you have any suggestions on how we can shift our thinking to focus less on appearance and more on how we actually feel (mentally and emotionally)? What are some activities we can do to kick start this change in thinking?
Instead of focusing on goals that have more to do with behavioral changes, focus on changing your mind. New research on gratitude shows that participants who practiced gratitude were 25% happier than the control group, reported fewer health complaints and were more likely to exercise by 30%. I remind clients that whatever you focus on grows.
For example, if you tell yourself that getting or staying healthy is going to be hard, you actually make the journey more difficult (or even impossible) than if you were to envision the process being easy or at least doable. Morning mediation/prayer is another powerful tool to help someone make better choices. Taking time to silence the mind, pray or even focusing on gratitude is a great way to start out your day.
In terms of people having specific weight loss goals—even before making food choices—I have them pause and ask themselves, “Is this going to get me to where I want to be?” Because often times the goal of looking a certain way has far more to do with how and what we really think and feel about ourselves than it does about achieving a particular number on a scale.
Based on your experience, how do physical wellness and emotional/mental/ spiritual wellness affect each other or work together?
There is a HUGE connection between our body, soul and spirit. This is exactly why people can eat really well and still feel like junk. The American Institute of Stress says that 75-90% of all doctor visits are actually due to stress. What many of us don’t realize is that stress starts in our thoughts and then translates to our physical body.
When we try to focus on just one piece of the puzzle, we end up doing ourselves a huge disservice by not looking at our entire being. I honestly think this is one of the reasons healthcare in this country is struggling. Many other countries in the world have a much more holistic view of health care and do a far better job looking at wellness from not just a physical standpoint, but from an approach that understands how intertwined the spirit, soul and body truly are.
What advice do you have for someone just starting any kind of wellness journey?
Start by taking an assessment of your thought life. What kinds of things are running through your mind? Would you tell those same things to someone you love? What are you focusing on day in and day out? The first step to change is always self-awareness. You need to know where you are starting before you can move forward.
Like I said before, there’s ALWAYS more to it than the number we see on the scale. Instead of focusing on just trying to lose weight, try to look where you’re at from the inside out. An important question to ask yourself before you get started is, “Beyond just looking a particular way, what other areas of my life would I like to see improvement in?” Am I thinking healthy thoughts or am I struggling with feeling fearful or anxious? Am I easily angered or hanging on to bitter feelings towards certain people in my life?
Questions like these are really important to consider in terms of being healthy and whole. When we look beyond the scale and the size of our jeans, we can take an honest assessment of where we’re at so we know where it is we really want to be going.