think your way to good health
“What You Think You Become"
First, let's define what good health is. The World Health Organisation describes it as the following:
“A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
In other words, good health isn’t just about not being unhealthy. Good health is when both the mind and body are healthy together. But what needs to happen first? Does good physical health lead to having a healthy mind or vice versa?
Well, both are true, but first getting your mind healthy always leads to a healthy body, where a healthy body doesn’t always lead to a healthy mind.
So how does one use their mind to achieve a healthy body?
Research has found that people have either a ‘growth mindset’ or a ‘fixed mindset’.
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
A growth mindset is one that sees change is possible through hard work, grit, resilience and can be achieved through learning what is needed to be done.
A fixed mindset is one that believes that change is difficult, challenging and therefore it is not possible to improve on what you have, and that habits of a lifetime can’t be changed.
When trying to improve your health, what you currently are doing (habits/behaviours) need to change to doing something different that will lead to you achieving the results you want.
So depending on what type of mindset you have will determine how hard or easy it will be to make and keep the changes necessary.
A third mindset does exist though. A mixed mindset. You might have a growth mindset in certain aspects of your life, such as work or raising children, and have a fixed mindset when it comes to your health, or personal development.
Our mindset is on a continuum and we can easily go from having a fixed mindset to having a growth mindset or mix of both.
So how do we know what mindset we are in? And how do we change from one to the other?
Your actions and language can quickly tell you what mindset you are in. When it comes to your health, what actions are you performing and what language are you using?
If your actions are in conflict with what you want to achieve i.e having that glass of wine at dinner or getting to bed late, or the language you use is negative and defeatist i.e I have tried to get in shape before, but it didn’t work or I know I should eat less sugar but one small piece of cake won’t hurt. Then you are likely in a fixed mindset.
When you are in a growth mindset your actions help you progress towards your goals through being compliant to the habits and behaviours that have been proven to achieve them i.e you will always brush your teeth in the morning and just before you go to bed. You will also use language which is positive and assertive i.e “I know I can change if I learn more about what I need to do”.
A mixed mindset will have you performing actions that help but also conflict with what you are trying to achieve i.e you always go with your gym buddies to the pub after a workout. Your language can also sound mixed i.e “I know I can achieve the change I want but it is going to take to long to achieve it”.
What Mindset Do You Have?
The first thing you need to do to change your mindset is to recognise you need to change your mindset. Here is a simple online assessment you can do to see what mindset you are more likely to be in, Mindset Assessment
So once you know your dominant mindset, how do you change it to one that is more useful in improving your health?
To move towards a growth mindset think about your goal and what you could do to stay on track to achieving it.
Then make a plan to achieve it.
Don’t just make a plan though. Where will you follow your plan? When will you follow through on your plan? How will you follow it?
Think vividly about where, when, and how you will achieve your goals. This will lead to higher levels of follow through, which increases the chance of success.
With any change though comes difficulty and challenges. It is easy to have a plan and know what to do to follow it, but what happens when the plan doesn’t happen the way you hoped it would?
Someone in a fixed mindset sees difficulty and challenges as a reason to stay the way they are. Difficulty and challenges prove to them that it is not possible to learn the skills needed to change and they are going to fail like they always have.
A growth mindset tells you that difficulty and challenges is part of the change process and are needed to make the changes needed. That more progress is achieved through failing then succeeding as failing tells you what you still need to learn. Only through continued learning can we truly change for the better.
On one of the walls at my health clinic I have the following plaque:
“Some people want it to happen”
“Some people wish it would happen”
“Some people make it happen”
So before you think about what nutrition changes you need to make, or you go out and buy new running shoes, first change your mindset. Only then will you truly see a long-term change no matter what nutrition and exercise plan you are told to follow.