You may be familiar with the phrase, “perception is reality,” and it’s never more true than when developing a healthy mindset. Mindset is the first pillar of the EXOS 4-pillar approach to human performance, an essential foundation for healthy lifestyle change. Use the following guidelines to practice a month of gratitude and mindfulness to change your perception and recognize the power of a positive mindset to help you reach your goals.
Week 1: Give thanks
Gratitude is often overlooked when developing a healthy mindset, but it’s a foundational element for unlocking the power of positive thinking. Instead of dwelling on challenges, make an effort every day this week to recognize something in your life for which you’re thankful. Say it aloud, or use a gratitude jar to collect little notes every time you have a positive experience. At the end of the week, reflect on all you have to be thankful for, and how that list greatly outweighs any other challenges in your life.
Week 2: Replace comfort foods
We all respond differently to challenges and stress. Our relationship with food can be complicated by emotional eating. Instead of eating your feelings this week, recognize that food is fuel for physical activity, and try to only eat when your body sends you hunger cues. When you’re tempted to eat out of boredom, habit, sadness, or social pressures, choose a non-food activity to replace eating in that situation. It’s best to choose a single activity that replaces food in every stressful situation.
You can try:
- Listening to music
- Getting a massage
- Calling a friend
- Meditation or yoga
- Participating in a hobby you enjoy
Week 3: Slow it down
When you do eat to fuel your brain and body, consume your food at a slower pace to facilitate improved digestion and your ability to sense when you’re no longer hungry. Sit down to eat. Chew your food thoroughly and really taste each bite. Pause between bites to set down your utensil(s) and take a drink of water. Set a goal to make each meal last at least 20 minutes and enjoy the break from your busy day as you nourish your body and mind.
Week 4: Practice mindful eating
Enjoying a slower pace at mealtime gives us ample opportunities to practice mindful eating. Instead of scrolling through your social media feed or working while you eat, lift your eyes and be fully present in those moments. Pay attention to your meal, engaging your senses as you see, smell, and taste your food. Notice the food’s texture and your own physical and emotional responses to each bite.
Practicing gratitude and mindfulness can help combat stress, anxiety, depression, and even food-related issues. Those who incorporate exercises such as those described above often have lower BMIs, improved health markers such as blood glucose and blood pressure, and even improved symptoms of chronic diseases such as IBS.
Learn more about developing a positive mindset by setting up your Individual Wellness Pathway. It’s a benefit of membership at Mercy Fitness Center that includes an initial assessment and goal-setting session with a nationally accredited, EXOS-certified fitness professional. Your trainer will then meet with you to develop a plan to help you reach your goals and will follow up with you to check on your progress.