September 1, 2014

Personal Best: Fuel for Thought — Redefine to Redesign

 

In order to redesign yourself on the outside, you must redefine yourself on the inside. The first step in this transformation is listening to your self-talk. This is the voice inside of your head that rules the roost and makes most of your daily decisions.

For many of us, that voice is often harsh and self-defeating.

The next step is to make the decision to let go of that familiar voice in order to change the conversation. If you’ve been gulping out of the glass that’s half empty it’s going to take some effort to allow yourself even a sip of the glass that’s half full. But, no worries, you can change your thinking.

What we say to ourselves is who we become.

Developing positive self-talk is a muscle that you build no different than your biceps and triceps. It is the committed, repetitive lifting of weights that sculpts and tones skeletal muscle. It is the committed and repetitive speaking of positive self-talk that sculpts and tones the new positive energy pathway that will lift your life from ordinary to extraordinary.

This self-talk doesn’t involve looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m amazing! I love myself!” which can be uncomfortable for a lot of people.

This self-talk is a list of what I term ”Health Mantras,” a short list of catchy phrases that you can incorporate into your everyday conversations with yourself. Notice that they are objective, not subjective statements. There are no pronouns and no emotions attached to these words. They are simple, they are facts and they will change your life in a very positive way.

Here’s how it works: Remember having to write, “I will listen to the teacher,” on the chalkboard 100 times? Well, it’s just like that only you’re “writing” the words in your mind over and over again until they become your new reality.

The good news is you don’t even have to believe them at the outset. Trust me, just by repeating these mantras over and over again in place of your negative self-talk, you will create a new positive energy pathway and find that you’re making healthy choices for yourself without any effort.

“Food is Fuel“

This mantra replaces all of the chatter about food, dieting and weight issues. When you hear yourself saying phrases such as “I’m so fat,” “I’ll never lose weight,” “I need chocolate now!,” “I need to detox,“ repeat: “Food is Fuel.” When you are in your kitchen, at the market food shopping and at a restaurant perusing the menu repeat “Food is Fuel. “

Food’s sole purpose is as fuel for biological function. The better the fuel, the better the function. You don’t need soda, candy and chips to function. The food industry and Madison Avenue created the emotional connection to food with promos that have happy people eating fast food and candy bars. Take control over what you put in your body by eliminating processed foods with long ingredient lists and artificial additives. This includes so called “health foods” such as protein bars and energy drinks. Ideally the food you buy should have one ingredient. Need a quick snack? Eat an apple or a banana or a handful of nuts.

“Exercise is Energy”

This mantra replaces all of the chatter about being too tired to work out. There is nothing more uplifting for the body and the soul than getting your heart rate up by doing exercise. When you get home from work and think you need and deserve to crash on the couch in front of the TV or computer screen, repeat, “Exercise is Energy.” Most of us are sedentary at work. This causes much of the fatigue we feel throughout the day. Combat that fatigue by moving your body and getting circulation to all of your vital organs, especially your brain.

“Movement is Mandatory”

This mantra is for those of you who say “I hate to exercise,” “I hate to sweat,” “I don’t have time.” [I gave some helpful hints in my last article “ Fitness in Fifteen,” regarding incorporating exercise into a busy schedule.] The human body is designed to walk, run, jump, climb, reach, carry pull, push and lift. Since most of us no longer do that in our daily tasks for living, we must replace this basic biological need to move with planned exercise regimens. Take the stairs at work, walk everywhere, join a gym, find a great dance class. Just get moving!

“Sleep is Sustenance”

This replaces the absolutely ridiculous statements regarding sleep that are out there, “I don’t need sleep,” “ I can get by on 4 hours.” Yes, you do and no you can’t! Sleep is vital to mental and physical health and as a society we are not getting enough shuteye every night.

• Research is linking obesity to sleep deprivation. And why? 1) The body burns fat at rest, yes at rest. Sleep deprivation also raises Cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that when out of control adds girth to our waists. Sleep to lose that belly! 2) Sleep is when we repair and rebuild tissue, such as muscle tissue after a workout. Rest to build those biceps.

• Dull skin, bags under the eyes, pallid skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles are all exacerbated by lack of sleep. Save on expensive creams and potions with a good night’s rest on a satin pillowcase.

• Overwhelmed? Not able to handle life’s ups and downs? Go to bed! Sleep helps us sort through and process information, clearing out what we don’t need.

The average man needs 7-8 hours, while women need 8-9. Yes, we require that much sleep to function at an optimal level during the day.

Here’s some help getting to bed earlier.

• Shut off your electronics and read.

• Take a warm (not hot) bath.

• Eat foods at night with L-tryptophan such as nuts, sunflower seeds, soy beans, milk, yogurt, turkey slices and bananas.

“Age is an Attribute ”

For those you of struggling with the physical and mental changes brought on by aging this is a great one to put life in perspective. With age truly comes wisdom so when you hear yourself saying “I’m too old!” repeat “Age is an Attribute.” You can’t know about life unless you have lived a life and the longer you live the more you know. Age gives you the chance to slow down and enjoy the process instead of the outcome. Take this time to worry less about what others think and do more for you. This is the time to let unfulfilled childhood dreams come true. There is nothing you can’t do if you choose to do it with your heart and soul.

Try these mantras. Have fun with these mantras. Create your own mantras.

You’ve got nothing to lose but a half-filled glass!

Deborah Brooks is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Fitness Instructor through UCLA. She is the co-owner of edgeworX sport-fitness, a company founded on the belief that there is an athlete in all of us. Deborah is also an International Adult Figure Skating Gold Medalist.