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Transform Your Thinking to Transform Your Body

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“Each of us has the opportunity to change and grow until our very last breath, Happy creating,” M.F. Ryan. 

There are so many ways that we can begin to invite a healthy lifestyle into our lives.  Yet, without the belief system underlying our efforts, we will continuously fall back on old habits.  That is why I believe, and research corroborates, that changing your thinking goes a long way to changing your habits.  Why is identifying what we believe important to our lives? Let us take someone who may be trying to lose weight.  Let us say that after some early successes this individual could not figure out why she reverted back to old habits of binging on food that caused her weight loss to plateau. With some investigation she discovered a belief in her mind that she agreed to long ago and forgot about. She had agreed to feeling deprived if she did not eat everything she wanted. Since our minds naturally direct us to avoid the unpleasant feelings like “deprived”, she ate food to avoid these feelings.  Beliefs in her mind she was not aware of were driving her to unwanted behaviors.  So, how exactly do you go about identifying a belief?  Below are some steps I outlined to help you transform your thinking in order to transform your body.

Your main beliefs fall into three main camps.

  1. Beliefs about yourself inform the way you understand your own self-worth.
  2. Your beliefs about other people and how they may react to you.
  3. Your beliefs about life in general and how the world operates help determine your general attitudes.

Sometimes, finding your beliefs can be difficult.  Often you may not hear your beliefs in their absolute form.  Usually you are more aware of your negative automatic thoughts.   For example, if you held a belief of being a failure you may not actually say this to yourself very often.  More likely perhaps you say things to yourself like ‘here I go screwing up again’ or ‘I never do anything right.’  A helpful method to discover your beliefs is the downward arrow technique outlined below.  First, pick a situation.  An example may be losing weight or starting an exercise regimen.  Then follow the steps by asking yourself these questions.   The downward arrow technique is really quite simple.  You start by identifying the situation or event in which you felt an unhealthy negative emotion–such as guilt, shame, or depression.  What happened and who else was involved?  The emotions you feel in response to unpleasant events are more likely to be unhealthy ones (like deep depression rather than healthy intense sadness) when your core beliefs are unhealthy negative ones.  Next, ask yourself what the situation means about you, others, or the world.  Your answer will probably be a negative automatic thought.  Keep asking yourself what your answers mean to you until you finish with a global label or statement.  The statement you finish with is your main belief.  I have provided an example of someone who is trying to motivate herself to go to the gym.

Going to the Gym: Felt anxious and depressed 

That I am lazy and unmotivated. 
What does this mean about me:

Other people have tons of motivation and are not lazy.  They are better than me. 

People will criticize and look down on me for being lazy.
The world:

If people criticize me that means I am bad. 
What does this mean about me:

I have to defend myself against other people. 

The world is unfair.  
The world:

That I am not worthy of success. 
What does this mean about me:

Other people are more successful than me. 

No matter what I do I will fail.  
The world:

I am a failure
What does this mean about me:

The first step in changing a core belief is to actually identify what you had originally agreed upon.  In this example, the person has a main belief that they are a failure and no matter what they do, they will fail.  So, in order to avoid feelings of anxiety and depression that come from this person thinking they are a failure, they may decide to skip the gym.  Why? Because, “What’s the point? I will fail anyway.”  Is this belief a realistic belief? Of course not!  But it can hold us back from really accomplishing our goals.

Remember, real life change involves changing main beliefs. One of the fastest ways to change main beliefs is by shifting your point of view. This task can be a little challenging in the beginning but gets easier with practice, practice, practice. Once you finish the job you will have added a little bit of awareness and a shift in perspective outside what you currently believe to be true.  So, what are you waiting for! Begin the process of change and watch your body and mind transform. Happy Transformation!

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