Have you ever wondered or asked yourself:
Why don’t I start exercising even though I want to?
Why don’t I maintain my exercise program when I start it or resume when I get off track?
Why don’t I eat right when I know what is and isn’t good for me?
Here are some effective ways to conquer the thought processes and feelings that interfere with diet and exercise maintenance.
How much do our thoughts and feelings affect our ability to begin and maintain an exercise program? In my experience as a bodybuilder, trainer, and psychotherapist, I have found that about 90% of one’s ability to maintain a healthy diet and begin and engage in a regular exercise routine is directly influenced by his or her thoughts and feelings.
Most people start exercising and eating right with a plan to continue indefinitely. We buy diet books and exercise equipment with good intention to use them only to see dust collect on them after a couple of weeks, or even days, because the thoughts and feelings that motivated us to buy them usually subside after we submit the credit card information to the distributor. What’s good is that the very thoughts and feelings that motivated us to buy these products are ones we can use to motivate ourselves to eat right and exercise. We have to learn how to maintain the motivating thoughts and feelings and conquer the thoughts and feelings that pull us off track. Follow these simple rules to identify which thoughts and feelings to keep and which ones to conquer and expel.
Thoughts to keep
Reflect on what made you interested in eating right and exercising and purchasing products that you planned to use in your program. You may have had thoughts such as, “I want to feel better about myself,” I want to look better,” I need to be healthy,” and “I want to live longer so I have to change my diet and start exercising.” These are typical motivators to eating right and exercising that often subside when the emotion connected to them dissipates due to some distraction such as watching television, reading an interesting magazine, or perhaps eating your favorite food, all of which result in relatively instant mood alteration. Then we make excuses for not eating right and exercising and tell ourselves we can attempt it again at a later time. This triggers similar thoughts and eventually results in self-disgust and a negative pattern of alleviating the negative mood by eating or engaging in unhealthy thinking, feeling, and behaving. The motivation to eat right and exercise soon becomes yesterday’s thought and you resume your old ways again.
So, how do we maintain our motivating thoughts and feelings and expel those inhibiting us? First, identify the emotion connected to your initial motivating thought. Maybe you felt energized, motivated, or excited to make positive changes. Maybe it was fear that continuing down the path you are on will result in disastrous health effects. Or, maybe you felt tired of being tired and unhealthy. Second, try to embrace the emotion and keep it conscious by reminding yourself daily that it exists as you embark on your diet and exercise plan. Finally, identify and embrace the thoughts that make you feel good about eating right and exercising. You can also add some affirmations to your thinking, such as, “I deserve to be healthy,” “I will make time to plan my meals,” “I will eat healthy food,” and “I will make time to exercise.” If you keep your healthy thoughts and feelings conscious, you will find that beginning and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program will be easier than you thought.
Thoughts to conquer
Everyone has negative thoughts now and then. However, some people allow them to rule their lives. Are you one of these individuals? If so, you can choose to change. Often, we think negatively because we have minimal self-respect, insecurity about our abilities and future, and lack of trust in ourselves and others. The foundation of negative thinking is in one’s perceptions of oneself. If you believe you are too far gone to be healthy, eating right won’t work for you, or you are too old to exercise, etc., then you may have low self-esteem or may be critical of yourself. This means that you have a negative perception of yourself. You also likely don’t believe you are worthy or deserving of good things. If you want to succeed at eating right and exercising, challenge these thoughts with simple statements like, “That’s my old thinking,” “I am now changing,” “there are my old thoughts again,” or “there I go again beating myself up.” You will soon find that changing your thoughts will change your feelings about yourself and you will feel that you deserve to eat right and exercise.