back to basics | a positive mindset

There are numerous studies about the effects of a positive mindset on our physical health. Start with the positive mindset’s effect on heart health or just Google “positive mindset effect on health.”

And a positive mindset is one of the principles of Integrative Nutrition® health coaching.

As a reminder, quarter 1’s Back to Basics theme continues with an exploration of the basic principles of Integrative Nutrition®. While I don’t think anyone at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition® ever set down the principles à la Moses and the Ten Commandments, this style of health and wellness coaching comes down to a few basic tenets.

Here are the principles as I see them:

You can search the blog (or the internet at large) and find tons of posts about our inner critic and inner voice.

And today, I want to talk about how those voices affect our mindset and, in turn, our reality.

you used to what???

You used to what??? That’s what most people say when they learn that my first career was teaching Mandarin Chinese. It’s true. I did.

I also grew up speaking Russian and studied Spanish, French, and Latin in high school.

And what I learned from all that time and effort was not just tons of vocabulary (Want to be considered marginally literate in Chinese? That will cost you 3,000–5,000 memorized characters.) and grammar (I still remember amo, amas, amat and -us -i -o -um -o, -i, -orum, -is, -os, is, puella amat agricolam, puellam amat agricola….)

Even arithmetic is different in Chinese: in the West, we think of numbers in groups of three (units, tens, hundreds; thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands; millions, etc.); in China it’s in groups of four (units, tens, hundreds, thousands; ten-thousands, hundred ten-thousands, thousand ten-thousands, millions). Yes, it’s a bit mind-bendy to say the least.

The most important lesson I learned is that when you speak a language other than your native one, you also see the world through a different lens.

The fact that I had this sort of meta view is thanks to the best career advice I ever got as a senior in college: Don’t think of yourself as a Chinese major; think of yourself as someone who majored in Chinese.

Meaning that if you focus on the content of what you learned, you limit yourself to a very few jobs. If you focus on the skills you honed while learning the content, there’s a whole world of possibilities out there.

See? Teaching Chinese really does have something to do with health coaching! Coaching is really like teaching people a new language about health by shifting their perspective around the topic.

change your mind(set), change your health

Want to change your health? Change your mindset first.

I work with a lot of people who have hit rock bottom as far as their health is concerned.

It’s wicked hard to sell prevention. People generally wait until they experience a medical crisis or get some really bad numbers from a doctor’s visit before they get serious about changing their food and lifestyle choices.

Even then, some expect that they “just” need to take a pill or have a procedure. The wiser ones recognize that while a pill or procedure might help in the short term, they also need to make some serious shifts in their habits for longer-term sustainability of good health.

And those habits cannot shift until they change their mindset first. I’ve actually turned down clients whose head is not in the right place for working with me. Looking for a diet, detox, supplement, smoothie, workout, or woo practice that will make it all better? We won’t work well together, I guarantee it.

Ready to put in some serious work on your mindset while changing your habits and food and lifestyle choices? We’ll get on great.

a new mindset around health

Here are just a few mindset shifts that can make a huge difference in your health journey

  • Being unhealthy is normal these days. => Being unhealthy is common these days.
  • Being unhealthy is normal for me. => Given the right nutrition (primary + secondary), my body can do amazing things.
  • I’m broken and I need to be fixed by an outside force. => I am whole, creative and resourceful when it comes to improving my health.
  • There’s a magic pill out there that can solve my medical problem. => Making better choices every day will move me closer to my goals.
  • I just need to do this intervention for awhile, then I can go back to my old habits. => Forming new habits will help me get and stay healthy in the long run.
  • Getting healthy is impossibly hard. => Being unhealthy robs me of so much that I want.

making mindset shifts

How can we make these shifts?

Often, it’s through our language—the words we use that shape our reality. If you want to learn more about this, check out the very first episodes of my podcast. I did a series about “mental hygiene”—the second one urges you to “Watch your language!

In that episode, I give you four simple reframes for everyday use:

  • but => and
  • have to => get to
  • happening to => happening for
  • should => choose to

They seem overly simple, and (not but) I have plenty of clients who can testify to how life-changing they can be!

shift your mindset, shift your energy

The energy completely shifts when you use them:

  • I planned to work out five times this week, but I only managed to do it three times. (I’m a failure.) I planned to work out five times this week, and I managed to do it three times. (Go, me!)
  • I have to take the shuttle to work. (I hate that it adds 30 minutes to my commute.) I get to take the shuttle to work. (I can catch up on my reading/sleep/email/meditation.)
  • Why is this happening to me? (Poor me!) Why is this happening for me? (There’s a lesson in here somewhere.)
  • I should go to the gym before work. (That feels heavy and unpleasant.) I choose to go to the gym before work. (I have agency over my choices.)

Do these reframes feel artificial? Do they feel like you’re trying to “fake it ’til you make it?”

That’s okay: keep reframing how you “language” (ack!) your world, and I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how well these simple language shifts change how you perceive your world.

make the connection

If you struggle with changing your food and lifestyle habits, take a step back and give some consideration to your mindset first. Do you think about making these changes as something difficult/unpleasant? 

The healthy choice must be the easy choice, so how can you make the change feel easy in your mind? And THEN, how can you set your environment up to make the choice easy?

If this all feels too vague/theoretical for you, schedule a free YOURstory session, and let’s talk through it!