If we are honest with ourselves, most, if not all, of us have a pretty dysfunctional relationship with food. We love it. We hate it. We break up with it, vowing never to see it again, and then we see it at a party and it looks so good.…all of the sudden you’re back together again. You tell yourself that this time will be different. But each time it ends, your self-esteem gets a little more fragile and you’re left wondering where you keep going wrong.
I know this sounds a little silly, but isn’t it also a little scary how true it is?!? WHY DO WE DO THIS?!
If you pay attention to the fitness world at all, you’d think nutrition came down to just what you eat, right? Diets, nutrition articles, and blogs are all about what food this celeb eats, what food that celeb swore off, which 5 foods to avoid for a flat tummy, the evils of sugar and french fries and soda, top 10 super foods….there’s even a whole series of books called Eat This, Not That.
The biggest problems with this are 1) trying to make something universal that is actually really individual, 2) chances are if you read more than one diet book or nutrition article, you’ll start hearing contradictory things about which foods are good and bad (which just gets really confusing and frustrating), and 3) because of some people’s strong convictions, it’s created a kind of morality based on what foods you do or don’t eat.
So without really realizing it, we start mentally assigning foods to the good or bad category. But the minute you put a food into the bad category it becomes forbidden fruit. The worse it is for you, the more you want it. The longer you deprive yourself of it, the stronger the cravings become and the more out of control you feel. Until you eventually give in. You binge. You feel terribly guilty. You make the next attempt even more strict in order to make up for it, and the cycle starts over. And now here we are, in this highly dysfunctional relationship that we just can’t seem to break free from.
So here’s the tough love part: it’s not food, it’s you. 😉
Let me explain by giving you 2 examples:
Guy #1: In a documentary called Supersize Me, gains 25 pounds and his health severely deteriorates while eating only McDonalds for 30 days.
Guy #2: Science teacher decides to do an experiment of his own and loses 56 pounds and improves all his blood markers eating only McDonalds….FOR 6 MONTHS.
WHAT THE WHAT?!?
It was the same “bad” food, so what made the difference? Well, Guy #1 decreased his exercise, had to say yes if they asked if he wanted his meal super-sized, and had to eat the entire meal. Guy #2 increased his exercise and had his students plan out his meals so that they always totaled 2,000 calories/day and hit a number of nutrient requirements as well.
The moral of the story: Food doesn’t make you gain weight. Behaviors do.
We’re going to get to the behavior later, but I’m starting here because this really has to do with our mindset towards food. What you think determines what you do.
Repairing our broken relationship with food will help with the behaviors to come. And it’s also SO friggin’ freeing!!! 🙂
I was at a nutrition seminar back in May and the speaker said something that really stuck with me. He said that he believes that the guilt we associate with food is far more detrimental than the food itself. He then asked how many of us had ever gone out to eat with a loved one and had a great time and enjoyed a decadent meal, but left feeling guilty because of what we ate. We all raised our hands.
It was eye-opening and saddening to realize how much shame and guilt I carried around because of food. How much we all do. Eating was given to us to be a pleasure with a purpose – to nourish our bodies. I see no other reason for taste buds. Somewhere along the way, though, it’s become more of a lose-lose situation for us.
Go to a party and eat something that’s not “on the plan” and you feel guilty.
Go to a family event and don’t indulge and you feel left out.
Give up, stuff your face with everything you want and then you feel miserable both physically and emotionally.
This false morality of “I’m good if I eat these foods and bad if I eat those foods” has done us no favors. In order for this relationship to work, we need to make peace with ALL food. And it starts with understanding and believing this truth:
Food is not the enemy. It is not good versus bad. You are not virtuous or sinful based on what you ate today. It has no actual power over you. It’s just food. Sure, there are foods that make your body feel better than others (and that is highly individual mind you). But it’s still… just food.
Isn’t that a freeing thought?!?
Or are you more like me and thinking, “I can’t think this way or I’ll for sure just let myself go and live on Lucky Charms and pizza!” ? 🙂
This is where I’m going to ask you to trust the process. Start small by dropping the guilt and allowing yourself to just enjoy food again. In other words: Have the pizza. Enjoy the pizza. Move on with life. Have the salad. Enjoy the salad. Move on with life. Ate a little too much? OK. Noted. Moving on.
I think you’ll be surprised by how these things actually level out as you take away the good and bad categories. Over time, the urge to binge will fade because you’re no longer coming from a place of deprivation, but from a place of I can have this whenever I want.
More importantly, instead of making decisions based on what you think you should be eating, you can actually start choosing based on what your body is telling you. You do have a choice! Food is not in control. You are. There’s no better expert on you than your own body. Trust it!
“Experts agree that we were born with the ability to eat based on our body’s cues. But often, we train ourselves to ignore what our body is telling us because it doesn’t fall in line with what we feel like we “should” eat—or what others are telling us we should be eating.”
(Excerpt from The Hunger Solution e-course)
“Have the humility to admit to yourself that, of all the things you need to know and don’t, one of the things that you don’t know well enough is yourself.” ~Eric Greitens
Last week, we established why mindset is so important for transformation and that you can in fact change it. Now let’s talk about how one might go about changing their mindset.
First, you must understand that your mind is constantly taking in internal and external input and adapting to what it learns. This is why our environment, culture, and inner dialogue are extremely powerful in shaping our mindsets.
This is why we start craving something we just saw in a commercial and also why we find ourselves becoming like our parents even when we swore we never would. 😉
Let’s take a look at the body image issue in America.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see a very specific body type being presented as what health and beauty look like. These bodies are dressed, lit, and then edited to unrealistic levels of perfection and then held up as the “standard”. This is what you need to look like to be confident and “bikini ready”.
Then, we grow up hearing women routinely complain about, pick apart, and tear down their own bodies. Instead of accepting compliments, there’s a smart remark. Instead of gratitude, there’s comparison. Instead of confidence in who they are as people, a million reasons why they’re not good enough.
Day in and day out, this is what we see and hear. So there you stand in front of the mirror and what have you been taught to do? Focus on the outside. Search for all imperfections. Compare with unrealistic images. Remind yourself why you’re not good enough.
And then we wonder why contentment feels like an impossibility, why we don’t know how to feel comfortable or confident in our own skin (no matter what our size), and why we can’t seem to dig up even a smidgen of love for our bodies.
It’s weird the way these things just kind of seep into the cracks and settle in our minds. Without even realizing it, your mindset is formed and shaped. No one is immune to it.
Once you understand this though, then you can actually do something about it.
Like it or not, this is the age and culture that you live in. It’s probably not going to change any time soon. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed, but it does mean that there’s really no room for passivity. When you just accept everything that’s coming in, that’s when you get into trouble. You have to pay attention and engage. You have to get to know yourself and become more discerning about what you let into your mind and more intentional with your thoughts, your words, and the way you live.
“Don’t wallow in the godless messages. I mean the messages in your own head.” ~ John Piper
What we think and say about ourselves is some of the most defining input our minds take in. Unfortunately, our flesh loves to point out all our shortcomings and imperfections and most of us have let our emotions take over our inner dialogue. We must do something to combat all the messages coming in. Instead of just listening, you gotta start preaching truth to yourself on a daily basis.
Here’s an example from my own life: I’ve struggled with body image for as long as I can remember. I was especially self-conscious about my butt and thighs. So I used to joke about them a lot. First, it was noticing the jokes. (Seriously, sometimes we get so used to saying certain things, we don’t even realize how often we do it.) Then I had to correct myself…..Out Loud. I’m sorry. My legs are not fat. I don’t know why I say stuff like that.
Over time, I started catching it before I said it. Then I started thinking it a little less. Now I struggle with it a whole lot less. In fact, I feel the most confident and comfortable I’ve ever felt in my own skin. Not because the imperfections aren’t still there or the thoughts never come up, but because I stopped listening and I started choosing to tell myself something different…THE TRUTH.
My legs are fully functioning and strong and allow me to do just about everything I love to do. Picking on the imperfections is not glorifying to God and not worth any more of my time. Plus, what if they never change? Do I really want to let that cast a shadow on my entire life? On my deathbed, will I be happy that I spent so much time and emotion on the size and shape of my legs?? I’m thinking….No.
I’m not sure if it ever goes away, but it does get easier the more you practice. When your mind starts to go to that dark place, when you hear the negative and harmful messages start up, shut it down. Fix your eyes back on Jesus and remind yourself of your values, your priorities, and what you know to be true. Changing your mindset starts here.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~1 Peter 1:13
We are the most sold to society in history. Everywhere you turn there are ads telling us what we need or magazines reminding us of what we don’t have. We have constant input coming at us and that input is usually not telling us the truth.
You can’t avoid everything of course, but there is some external input that you can control. You can be discerning and intentional about who you follow online, how much time you spend online, what you read and watch, and who you hang around with. How often do you really unplug and just let your mind wander and relax?? Knowing how the mind works, can you see how important this is if you’re looking to form your own opinions and thoughts and mindset?
Another personal example: I had to quit buying health magazines and following fitness competitors. For me, all they did was distort my ideas of what health looks like, both in my body and my diet, and encourage my perfectionism. I cut out a lot and got much more particular about the images of health that I was letting into my life. This allowed me to focus on my health as a whole. When I wasn’t seeing images every day of what some advertising agency wanted me to believe health looked like, it became easier to see through the lies and not let those images get into my head.
I’m not saying you have to do this exact thing. Everybody has different triggers.
It’s just so easy these days to be distracted and never tune in and figure out what works for you. I think it’s safe to say that most of us could stand get to know ourselves a little better and take a more active role in our own lives. You do have a choice as to how input makes you think and feel, but without some help and space, your mind can only withstand so much.
The point is not just to think nicer, more positive thoughts. The point is to filter input in a way that leads to better thinking and to think in a way that leads to better living.
Changing your mindset changes how you think, how you engage, and how you show up in your life. Change your mindset and you will change your life.
“But how do I get my mind to stop thinking this way?! How do I change my mindset??”
I was talking with a client who’s been struggling with her weight for years. She wants to get away from being so all-or-nothing, but it feels impossible. I mentioned that we needed to keep working on her mindset and this is what she blurted out.
The way she asked it really struck me because I totally know that feeling. That feeling of frustration and desperation, of “I really do want to, but HOW?!?!”
For years, I could see the terrible cycle I was in and yet I could not get out of it…
I would look back at old pictures of myself and think, “Wow, why did I hate my body back then? I looked pretty good!” I knew I didn’t want to go my entire life never appreciating my body in it’s current form, but I honestly could not figure out how to stop seeing all the imperfections and things I hated about it. I understand the frustration.
But is mindset really that important?? Is mindset what really makes the difference in a transformation?
Usually people with health and fitness goals struggle in one of two ways:
- They struggle to make changes, even when we want to make them.
- They struggle to maintain the changes they’ve made. (I believe the statistics are somewhere around 5% for people who lose weight actually keep it off for more than a year.)
In the first category, we have people who are completely physically capable of making the physical changes but they just can’t seem to stick to them. In the second category, as evidenced by 95% of the people who make the physical changes and achieve the physical goal, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE PHYSICAL. It’s almost always about the mindset.
Traditional eastern medicine and religions have known for centuries the vital role the mind plays in the physical. You see it woven into their everyday life with things like meditation and in every physical activity from martial arts to yoga. Unfortunately, over here, we’ve got it backwards. We’ve made our health purely about a certain look and size. So we put all of our focus and energy into the physical (working out, what we eat) thinking that if we can fix that then the mental side will automatically fix itself. We think once we look a certain way then we’ll be happier and it’ll make our relationships and our lives better.
If this were true, then there wouldn’t be so many fit & healthy people who still have low self-esteem and hate their bodies OR people who’ve lost sometimes hundreds of pounds but still can only see their imperfections. If the mental weren’t that important, if all we had to do was practice a habit for 3 weeks in order for it to stick, then we’d all be happy and healthy!!
Here’s the real truth….
“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~Romans 12:2
“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” ~Luke 6:45
What we think and believe determines what we do. True transformation happens from the inside out. This is why your mindset is so important.
Thankfully, our mindsets are not fixed. I promise. While you may feel like you lean heavily one way, that’s just because you’ve been thinking that way for a long time. But the mind is constantly taking in it’s environment and developing and adapting from what it learns. Change how it does that and you can absolutely change your mindset.
You just have to be willing to put some focused time and effort into it. You have to cultivate it in your heart and in your life.
For how to do this, check out part 2—> How do I change my mindset?
To be honest, I haven’t been feeling super jazzed about the new year. January 1st didn’t feel like a fresh new start, but just another day really. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a lot on the calendar yet for this year, so there’s not a whole lot to look forward to and a lot of unknowns for the Burns’.
At first, this was kinda depressing. But as I thought about it, I realized what a gift God has given us. How is not having anything to look forward to a gift, you ask.
It’s the gift of making it just a little easier to surrender all our tomorrows and live in today.
I feel like this new year God is asking me, do you trust me enough to let go? Do you trust me enough to just live in today and let me worry about tomorrow??
The funny thing is that there’s really no way to know anyways, right? There have been years that started out looking so promising and then things went sideways and ended up being really hard. Then there have been years that looked more mundane that ended up being really great and exciting. But I still like to think I can figure it out apparently. 😛
Of course, I do have some hopes and goals for this year. But this year, I’m just very aware that I have no idea how or if they are going to come about.
God has simply taken away my timelines and illusions of control.
And what a blessing it is!! The trouble with goals is that it tends to make us a little too focused on the future and a little less present and content in today. As someone who can easily slip into hyper-focusing on what’s to come and trying to figure it all out, I have a tendency to fall into the wrong thinking that things will be better when this or that happens. The end result is that I feel anxious and stressed out and the day at hand is completely emptied of contentment, peace, and focus.
We never know how many days we have on this earth. I don’t want to spend them always looking ahead and never enjoying where I’m at right now and I know that’s not what God wants for me either!
So it’s not so much a resolution as it is a focus for this year and that’s to not focus on this year ;), but just on today. Not just focus but to truly live IN today, content in Him and all that He is for me in this day. Daily surrendering and holding all my hopes and goals with an open hand and asking that not my will but His be done.
I came across this quote just last night and couldn’t believe how perfect it was for everything going on in my head right now: 🙂
“The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be LIVED – not always looked forward to as though the “real” living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.” ~Elisabeth Elliot
Christian or not, this applies to the health and fitness journey too.
I’m not saying don’t have goals. If you’re feeling refreshed and motivated right now, then by all means, use that energy! But if you focus too much on the goal, you’ll feel impatient and easily defeated at every little hiccup (and trust me, there will be hiccups). It’s in surrendering the outcome (or at least, the timeline) and focusing on today, that you’ll learn how to love it and make it a lifestyle.
This is the day (and life) that the Lord has made….for YOU.
Don’t waste it watching and comparing what others are doing. It’s OK to not be plugged in all the time, to not know what everybody else is up to. I know it’s so easy to get sucked into, but you won’t miss anything huge or important, I promise!
I want to encourage you today to spend a little more time in your own life. It will be SO worth it! Let your mind wander. Let yourself breathe and relax a little. Focus on you….better yet, focus on Christ and what He has done for you! Let that determine how you want to be (and what you do) today.
“Therefore, my beloved…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
When I first became a trainer, I really thought that if I could just get people to try working out for a couple of weeks they would be hooked just like I was. Needless to say, I was shocked to find that this was not the case. I still remember the first time a client said to me, “I just don’t get that high. I don’t feel amazing at the end of a workout. I don’t notice all these benefits you guys talk about.”…….
Anyways, if you’re reading this and know exactly what this client is talking about, then this post is for you. Having been in the business a bit longer, here are the most likely reasons I’ve found for why you haven’t fallen in love with it….YET 😉 ……
1)Your workouts are too intense
There’s a good possibility you’re starting too hard or pushing yourself too hard if….
- you never feel good or more energized at the end of a workout
- you’re always sore
- you go back and forth between feeling really strong and awesome in a workout to feeling really lame and weak the next workout
You don’t need to run yourself into the ground to benefit from working out. In fact, you likely won’t if you’re doing too much. Most people only need 2-3 hard workouts in a week. THAT’S IT. I’m not saying you can’t workout more than that, but the other workouts should be less intense. Dare I say, easy to moderate. 🙂
2) You’re not getting enough rest
Being able to balance stress with rest is a critical step towards fat loss and overall health. While working out can be a mental stress reliever, it is also a physical stressor that your body still needs to recover from.
Two of the best ways to balance out stress is by getting adequate quality sleep and restorative movement like walking or yoga, etc.
3) You’re not eating enough to fuel your body
You need to be giving your body enough fuel to actually make it through the workout. If you’re too low in calories, proteins, or carbohydrates, this can cause lethargy, weakness, low energy, and an inability to properly recover. All of which will lead to not feeling so good at the end of the workout and not feeling the benefits of exercise.
4) You’re doing something you don’t enjoy
You had to know this one would be in here! 😀
Life is too short (and consistency is too important) to force yourself to do something you hate, especially when there are so many other options.
Yes, there are certain types of exercise that can probably help you achieve certain goals faster. However, ANY movement is great for your body!!
Before the age of technology, nobody “worked out”. Yet people were generally pretty healthy and there was no such thing as an obesity problem (much less an epidemic). How is this possible?? People simply moved more….a lot more. When you are up and moving, it’s also a lot harder to eat at the same time!
Anyways, the point is that if you’re looking to be healthier and feel better and you know you need to move more, forget what you think you should be doing and just do something (anything!!) you enjoy and do it daily. Most importantly…. Just move.
5) Your mindset
Instead of focusing on how hard it’s gonna be or how much you don’t want to be there, write out all the benefits you get from working out. Instead of focusing solely on the changes you want in your body, list of all the other reasons you’re working out.
Read through it before going into a workout. Focus on them when it gets tough. Remind yourself what a gift it is to be able to move and of all the things that it allows you to do.
Just like we have to maintain our homes and cars so that they don’t fall apart on us, our bodies require the same thing. The cool thing is, unlike the house or car, we get to maintain our body through fun things like playing or exploring or dancing or lifting (that’s right, some of us actually find that kinda fun. 😉 ). God made it in such a way that movement actually gives back to us on so many different levels.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be crossfit or biggest loser. It doesn’t even have to look like exercise!! Just be kind to your body. Show it a little bit of respect and gratitude by making it a priority and putting in a little daily effort. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for all that it does for you.
Which one of these most applies to you? What’s one thing you can do this week to change that?
What is your hope in and how does this affect motivation?
I dunno about you guys, but I lived a large part of my life being paralyzed by fear. What I finally realized was that this fear came from placing way too much of my hope and my identity in the outcome.
So if the outcome was good, I was worthy and acceptable. But if the outcome didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I was a worthless failure who sucked at everything.
With such high stakes as that, the outcome had the ability to crush me. I think this is the case for many of us. Therefore, we end up just staying in our comfort zone or doing things for the wrong reasons (like for the approval of others or even our own self acceptance).
HOWEVER, if Jesus is your hope, if you believe that your identity lies in him, if you seek the approval of God and not men, then you are motivated by freedom….
Freedom to act without fear of the outcome because you know that whatever the outcome it is for your good.
Freedom to enjoy the process because you know that Jesus is working in you through the process and his timing is perfect.
Freedom to not worry because you believe that He will give you enough grace to get done what needs to get done.
Freedom from an identity in anything that is as temporary as beauty or wealth or approval of others.
Pray this with me today friends….
Lord, as we begin another week, may our hope and our identity be in you alone. For we know that without you, we can do nothing. You have given us a spirit of love, power, and self discipline. We ask you for the grace to throw off every hinderance and be the people you want us to be today. May we trust you, and believe your promises, so fully that it leads us to act unhindered and without fear of the future, then be at peace with whatever the outcome. May our choices reflect our hope in you and not our fears. You are the great helper and healer. Thank you for another day to live for you. Amen.
How does this apply to your life? And specifically your health journey?
What is hindering you? What are you placing too much hope or identity in?