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Taming the Mind – Part I

When you wake up in the morning, what is your first thought? Do you arise refreshed and centered, prepared to tackle the day? Or do you groan with dismay that another day has begun?

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Even more importantly, what stories do you tell yourself about what you see?

When you experience a crisis at work, how do you react internally? What script do you read to yourself on the inside about how you could have prevented the drama, said something different (read: better), or been more professional?

You decide, most of the time unconsciously, what you experience and don’t experience, with the power of your attention.

Things don’t just happen to you. You are not a helpless bystander, swept along in the drama of life. You are a co-writer and a co-producer of every single one of your scenes, and it may be painful to acknowledge your participation in situations that make you uncomfortable or unhappy.

Why would I bring up such a seemingly esoteric topic, when I am writing about food and exercise? Shouldn’t you be developing a food journal or strengthening your abdominal core right now? What does this have to do with food or health?

Here’s why: How you think shapes you act, which creates your reality and how you re-act to that reality. And part of your reality is your weight, health, and body image.

Be a Co-Creator

Nothing happens to you. You are a co-creator, and it its time to make friends with that important control center, the mind, before you make a single change to your eating habits or exercise plan.

You must learn to live with yourself, authentically and fully, by loving yourself now and forever, regardless of your life circumstances, weight, or habits. Don’t worry, we’ll get to food plans, healthy habits, and realistic exercise. It’s all coming down the path, but this is important to address first.

You won’t be able to sustainably apply physical principles in a healthy way until you learn how to love and respect yourself, and put your thoughts/feelings in perspective.

The good news is that you have already ventured out on the path of self-love by reading this. You are investing in yourself, and that is priceless.

Tips for Peace

Here’s a few tips for embracing “taming the mind”:

Don’t believe everything you think.

Isn’t that just a wonderful saying? Your initial reactions and thoughts are replaceable – you can learn to edit, replace, and discipline your thoughts.

Your thoughts and feelings are not immutable and irrefutable – they come from a multifactorial, complex set of beliefs, environmental stimuli, and reactions. You have the power to change your thoughts with repetitive training, and you will have a more positive and powerful inner experience if you take the time to do so.

What you give your attention to will expand.

Here is where weight comes in. Reality is relative, remember? Have you ever noticed a bulge in your midsection that mildly bothers you, but over the course of the day it goes from being a small bulge to a God-awful-I’m-so-fat-I’m-out-of-control-of-my-weight-I’m-a-loser protrusion? Your attention is like a magnifying glass.

This effect can be positive when you are intentionally giving yourself over to beautiful experiences, like making love or being artistically creative. But it can be very negative when you fixate on something negative about your body or behavior.

You can create your dreams… and your fears.

Have you ever heard of the placebo effect? A placebo effect is when you experience positive results because you believe in a good outcome – for example, clinical trials are often run using placebos as one of the variables, because it’s important to figure out if patients can get better without the drug in question, simply by “believing” they can get better. The body’s self-healing powers can often take over in those circumstances, and it’s important to isolate the placebo effect in clinical trials so that it is not confused with medical results.

The placebo effect happens all the time in everyday life, but you’re probably more familiar with its evil cousin, the “nocebo” effect – when we experience negative outcomes because we are expecting them. The nocebo effect happens when you diet unsuccessfully, because – deep in your heart – you think that you are not going to succeed, and therefore you choose a plan that is unachievable.

Harness the placebo effect by believing in yourself, and taking control of your inner landscape.

When it’s time to make changes to your food and exercise, you will be ready.