Copyright © Mary DiCaro. All rights reserved.
Photography by Marisa DiCaro
"You cannot solve your problems with the same mind that created them." Albert Einstein
Board Certified by the AADP (American Association of Drugless Practitioners), Licensed by the Az. State Board of Physical Therapy, Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by NSCA.*
*( National Strength and Conditioning Association).
4 STRATEGIES TO MOVE FROM RESOLUTIONS TO REAL SOLUTIONS.
We are 1 month into the New Year, do you know where your resolutions are?
Perhaps you started the New Year with motivations running high and a sense that a new crop of 365 days was just what you needed to propel yourself toward healthier habits. You may have set a few worthy goals such as lose 2 pounds, begin a certain diet, exercise more, eat healthier foods, manage stress.. and so forth. If you are beginning to feel a sense of ‘love lost’ when you think about your goals or you can’t really find the spark that once ignited your motivation, you are in good company. When it comes to life changes, most people have the attention span and focus of a squirrel, and when it comes to will power, well, what is that good for anyway?
In fact, most people who begin a “diet” or attempt a lifestyle change will be unsuccessful without the right tools. When it comes to having the right tools, and understanding what leads to success, there is some good news and some bad news.
I will give you the bad news first.
There may be reasons why you have fallen short when trying to change a habit, but they are not excuses.
Now here’s the good news:
There may be reasons why you have fallen short when trying to change a habit, but they are not excuses. Thankfully, you are still responsible, and what you acknowledge you can change.
It sounds simple, and it is, but simple does not mean easy.
I have outlined 4 simple strategies that will put you on solid ground and move you forward. That is where we want to go, right? Therefore, looking back or dwelling on past failures is no longer an option. That would be like trying to drive your car, looking in the rear view mirror.
1. YOU WILL CREATE WHAT YOU BELIEVE-
There is no other force as powerful, creative or destructive as your thoughts and own belief system. Therefore, if you have struggled with maintaining weight loss, or a healthy eating lifestyle, the question you need to ask is: Do I believe that I deserve to lose weight and feel good? This is not a question you pose to your head, but to your heart. Your intellect will always tell you what you want to hear, but the heart knows only the truth.“ You cannot solve your problem with the same mind that created it.” If you are not getting the right answers to chronic, recurrent problems, this may simply mean you are asking the wrong questions.
In order to achieve any lasting changes in your diet, exercise or lifestyle factors, you have to dig deeper and ask some difficult questions to uncover the limiting beliefs that are keeping you from rising higher. Some or most of our limiting or destructive beliefs are subconscious, but specific tools and an honest inventory will assist in Identifying, Acknowledging, Challenging, and Releasing negative thoughts and allow you to create a greater vision for yourself. Your belief system is directly related to your thoughts. Guard your mind like Fort Knox.
The battle is won or lost in your mind, so that is where it must begin.
2. GET CLEAR AND COMFORTABLE-
I would encourage you to get a crystal clear vision of what you want for yourself. This will be your mental map or GPS. You can be assured that you will have times when you will fall of the track, not if, but when. Here’s the point, just because you get derailed, you don’t have to crash. Immediately, divorce yourself from the tendency to dwell on the bad feelings, feel guilty, blame or engage in self- recrimination. Having a vivid vision of what you desire for your self will keep you from losing momentum during the challenging times. There are many ways to do this. Some people do well with meditation, picture boards, positive affirmations or journaling and writing out their goals.
The second part of this exercise is to assign a numerical value to how comfortable you are that you will follow through with the goal. For example, if your goal is to ” exercise 5 times per week for 1 hour” and you assign a 2 to your comfort level ( 0 to 10, with 0 representing not comfortable at all) this is NOT a worthy goal for you at this moment. Modify it until you are at an 8 or better on the comfort scale. Your previous goal may change to, “I will walk for 20 min a day, 4 days a week.” Then give it life by putting it on your calendar. Don’t break a date with yourself!
3. WILL POWER IS NOT VERY POWERFUL-
The nature of will power is that it is not a powerful motivator or catalyst for change in the long run. It may get you started initially, but it is rarely a faithful friend to the end. Instead, you have to cooperate with some natural laws at work here.
Our brains are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Pretty basic for survival, back in the day. The main motivator for any behavior is based on this principle and so self- gratification and self- protection are the two most powerful activists. Unfortunately, portions of our brains, ( namely, the Amygdala and Nucleus Accumbens) are easily hooked on various forms of pleasure, some good, some not so good.
In the ‘not so good ‘category are sugary, salty and fatty foods which trigger the same centers in the brain as some drugs. The food industry knows the sneaky secrets to turn on the reward centers in your brain and activate the release of the neurotransmitter, Dopamine. In fact, Dopamine is often referred to as the “Master Molecule of Addiction.” Studies have shown that while animals will work hard for a sugar or fat reward, they will work the hardest for a combination of sugar and fat. In the ‘good’ category are people that obsessively engage in rigorous exercise to achieve an endorphin release. The so called “runners high”.
So what does this all mean for us common mortals? Why are bad habits, like not exercising, eating poorly or smoking, so hard to change despite the knowledge of their detrimental effects and contribution to disease? No, it does not mean you are weak. or lacking in willpower and doomed for failure.
“Everything we do comes from either love or from fear.”
Many health coaches and scientists have studied this question and countless methods to facilitate lasting behavioral change. A fairly daunting task, indeed. Lately, many theories converge on the principle of Love versus Fear. What does love have to do with it, you ask? Everything we do comes through motivation from either love or from fear. If you are not enjoying your life, or if fear is an emotion you feel more often than love, joy or peace, then you are probably operating from a primitive, lower brain function which seeks to avoid pain and seek gratification through external means. .
The take home message is that all lasting change starts with self- love. The love of self, knowing and accepting your true nature and spirit of greatness, gives rise to love of others and thrusts you to a higher level of function. Emerging from the powerful intrinsic power of self love as your motivating force, you will naturally seek and gravitate toward healthy foods, habits and the positive reinforcement they create, which is feeling good, healthy, vibrant and strong. That is our birthright.
“Nothing succeeds like success.” As you create positive habits, they reinforce themselves. It is true freedom to make choices that are life enhancing and that affirm self- love.
Think back to the last time you felt pure contentment, a lightness of being, joy or peace, what were you doing? DO more of that! It’s time to give yourself permission to re- discover or find ways of creating more joy. If you are feeling stuck, don’t forget to check in with your belief system, strategy #1.
4. START SMALL, END STRONG-
The most common mistake when embarking on a life change for health or personal reasons is to set goals that are unreasonably difficult to stick with and therefore will have a limited degree of success.
An example is beginning a ‘diet’ that is based on the principle of deprivation and elimination. I am certain you can relate to this. You can also most certainly guess why this sort of plan is doomed to fail. If food is a source of pleasure for you and you decide to eliminate every food you are currently considering ‘bad’, you will be miserable. Remember what happens when your brain is miserable? It is pleasure seeking. Is it any wonder why most diets fail?
A simple rule that I will share, is to consider that there are no foods that are off limits. ( exception of course, are foods that you may have an allergy or intolerance to).
Does that mean you can have your fill of donuts and French fries? Of course, the answer is a resounding NO!
As a general rule eating ‘clean’ 80-90% of the time allows time for your body to chemically adjust and down regulate the dopamine and hormonal systems ( insulin, leptin) of reward, cravings etc. Have you ever noticed how when you eat sweet or fatty food, you crave more sweet and fatty food? The formula your body uses is: eat junk, want junk. It’s not in your imagination. It’s a downward spiral due to changes in the chemical and hormonal systems of the body. Your body is very much like a chemistry lab and is inherently good at maintaining status quo and enhancing survival mechanism.
"Concentrating on building your meals around Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, Local ( S.O.U.L) food."
Fear not, eating clean is a way of life that will eventually be as automatic as brushing your teeth.
Concentrate on building your meals around Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, Local ( S.O.U.L) food .This is the foundation of healthy eating habits. Increase your consumption of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and oils. Consume foods in their most natural and unaltered states. For example, a baked sweet potato, not French fries. Use the method of ‘crowding out’, that is, filling up on the most nutrient dense and healthy foods first and thereby reducing the consumption of the calorie dense, processed, and unhealthy fare. Remember you will always allow yourself the 10-20% ‘free choice’ for a night out or a special occasion. No guilt allowed!
Make it a practice to increase consumption of water, drinking at least ½ ounce per pound of body weight. A simple practice that has enormous, and far reaching health benefits.
Beginning an exercise program gradually, and ramping up intensity slowly, is the kinder more sustainable approach. This will allow you to feel the positive changes without experiencing the negatives of forcing your usually sedentary body to complete a full session of P90x.
If you are new to exercise, use your smart phone’s app to track the number of steps you take in a day. Set a goal to increase the number of steps weekly until you reach 6,000 steps per day, which is the average for most people, or strive for the 7,000 to 8,000, recommended by the CDC. (Centers for Disease Control). Eventually you may get to 10,000 steps or beyond which is associated with the most health benefits.
Who needs resolutions?
These simple solutions will provide the positive force that moves you forward and allows you to experience success. Success experienced early in the process of life change, is indicative of future and continued success.
If next year at this time, you would like to see yourself in a better, healthier place then you need to start making different choices starting now. Do the next, one right thing, one small step at a time, one day a time.
If you keep your vision in front of you, stay focused on the feelings of accomplishment and the health benefits that will inevitably follow, you are sure to end 2015 a happier, healthier you!
Be Well, Be Blessed <3
I would love to help you make this transformation a reality. If you have particular issues that you need assistance with, contact me:
Content is for informational and educational purposes only.
Articles are the property of Mary Dicaro, all rights reserved.