Positive thinking, bad behavior?
The positive thought movement has created a sensation in the self-help genre of topics, books and articles. This practice has been popular as far back as the writing of the United States Declaration of Independence where the pursuit of “happiness” was a welcome statement for our country after years of war and hardship. The positive thought practice ebbed and flowed over our history but has become a more common tenet within the health and fitness industry in particular.
It is true that positive thinking has historically been a good thing in general, especially in the area of physiology. More recent studies reflect benefits like lower blood pressure, faster metabolism, more resilient immune systems etc. No doubt about it, a more positive thought process can have significant effects on your life and your mood and yet it may be sugar coating certain character flaws that have been known to sabotage successful outcomes. Especially in the area of weight loss. Concepts like denial, anxiety or ignorance. Just as long as we are thinking positively about who we are and what we want in our world we will get it, correct? Not really, this thought process doesn’t acknowledge a very important part of positive outcomes in any situation; action and work.
There is a popular myth that if you think “thin” you will be thin. A popular intuitive medium recently claimed “Just eat and have faith knowing your body will perform perfectly to turn the food you’ve eaten into the energy you need.” This is may be true but the statement implies that you already know what to eat and how much you need and that you have eaten the perfect amount to supply you the energy you need to accomplish your daily tasks. Most people living in the United States have difficulty with this thought. If they have spent the time to research what is right for them they usually realize that the right food in the right amounts may be different than what they had anticipated. This is especially true for people who want to lose weight. Making a blanket positive statement about weight loss or nutrition without the education and science behind it is irresponsible.
I admit I am first to point out the intelligence our bodies have and the importance of following that intelligence. However, if you suffer from food addictions, bad habits and a sedentary lifestyle your body may find it difficult to function properly no matter how positively you may be thinking at the time. This very often turns into a negative thought process of failure and being undisciplined not the positive one you may have started with.
I see clients who frequently bring up this issue saying things like “Well I really focused on thinking positively about my new diet but I just can’t do it.” Or a client who admits they did nothing since our last training session but they feel with positive thinking they will lose weight anyway. The first case scenario represents a stage of change that implies they simply weren’t ready for, nor did they do the mental processing of the reality of what it takes to change. The latter demonstrates a bit of a naive outlook that excludes the importance of an active lifestyle. In either case they both are missing vital links to their success, the need for action and a bit of work.
I have always felt that if I am doing “the work” taking those actions and laying the foundation for positive outcomes and I back it up with positive thoughts and talk about those thoughts then I will get the best outcomes. Positive thinking can be the shortcut to success but if we haven’t laid the groundwork, become lazy or unresponsive to our own plan then it’s not likely we will succeed. When there is simply no fertile ground for positive thoughts to grow in then we’ve missed the point of positive thinking.
Allow a positive thought process to empower you and your goals not enable you to continue negative habits. This is easiest when the actions you take are clear, definable and have a time limit. Start by asking yourself what you want. If you want a weight loss goal then write it down and be specific. Then write down what exactly you will do to get that goal and within what timeline. For instance your goal could look like this:
Goal: To lose 10 pounds by April.
How: I will begin by cutting out processed foods
I will eat approximately 1600 calories a day mostly vegetables and proteins
I will increase my cardio vascular plan to 5 times a week working at a heart rate between 125 to 155 beats per minute.
I will add strength training 3 times a week to increase my metabolism.
And I will repeat this positive thought every day “I am losing more weight every day. I am my perfect weight. I am happy and fulfilled when I workout and eat well”
Your positive thought should reflect your truth and accent and assist your already preplanned and well executed program. Use positive thinking to help you change those bad behaviors you started with. Thinking and acting in this way can only have a successful outcome and propel you toward your most fulfilled self. Go be Great!