Have you ever heard the saying, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional?” What this saying is really speaking about is that we always have a choice to make in our lives. Sometimes our choices may be many or just a few, but ultimately we always choose. That is the nature of being human, your ability to choose in any given moment. You may be asking, “So what Dr. Russo, how is this important for my fitness and nutrition goals?” Simply put, because most individuals trying to create a healthier body and lifestyle tend to choose to suffer through the process. Suffering is usually the result of catastrophic thinking and distressing emotions such as anxiety, irritability, anger, fear, frustration, and hopelessness. Add in the mix the Negative Thinking mindset and you just took a challenging situation (beginning your new workout routine) and turned it into something painful. Furthermore, many people can ruminate on something by continuously and unproductively replaying it in their minds or magnify the negative aspects of it. Our thoughts have the capacity to make us miserable, and negative thinking can be especially destructive, feeding on itself, with the potential to become a self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophesy. Below are some tips to help you choose happiness and change helping you to stay focused on the helpful thoughts that help create change.
1. Stay firmly rooted in the present moment. Unhappiness occurs when we obsess about the past or worry about the future. Peace and serenity are found in the present moment. Practice deep breathing, meditation and other mindfulness techniques to establish presence.
2. Take excellent care of yourself. Take care of your physical (exercise, play, stretch) and mental health (meditate, connect with others, have some alone time) as if you were your own precious child whom you love very much.
3. Think about the meaning or origin of your reactions: There is a reason that you react as you do. It can be very helpful to understand your reactions, and perhaps even their origins.
4. Know your motivations, and be sure they’re strong. Write them down and be very clear why you’re doing this (exercise routine, eating healthier, etc.), and the benefits of doing it need to be clear in your head. If you’re just doing it for vanity, while that can be a good motivator, it’s not usually enough. We need something stronger. You want to stay healthy because of your kids or because you do not want to be in a wheelchair in your old age.
5. Write down all your obstacles. Write down every obstacle that’s happened to you, and others that are likely to happen. Then write down how you plan to overcome them. That’s the key: write down your solution before the obstacles arrive, so you’re prepared.
Finally, the key to continual progress towards your healthier lifestyle is in your ability to choose. At any given moment you can choose to look at your health and nutrition goals as a challenge that will catapult you into a healthier, happier, and more balanced you! The choice is yours. Will you choose to suffer or will you choose the challenge of change? As always, grow the love!