You Are The Gatekeeper of Your Mind
Excerpt from Chapter 1: Your Summer Best
Advances in the mind-body sciences are now proving what ancient wisdom traditions have been saying for centuries – the mind-body connection profoundly impact one another.
Specific ways of thinking can literally change the structure of your brain in ways that make you less prone to cravings and overeating.
Feeling, looking and being at our best does not always involve having a weight loss goal. Skinny after all, does not necessarily mean healthy. But with summer now upon us, achieving a healthy body weight and feeling our best is a goal for many of us.
Most of us have been taught to believe that the key to losing weight relies on the simple idea of eat less/move more. Sure, eating the appropriate amount of calories for our individual size, age, state of health and level of fitness is important, but there is way more to the equation. What we eat is only part of the story. The plot thickens when we take into account hormonal imbalances, stress levels, sleep patterns, blood sugar issues, and most importantly, our personal relationship with food and how we view our body. Our daily inner dialogue has a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves. An unhealthy relationship with food can have an impact on our stress levels. This alters the way we digest and absorb the nutrients from what we eat, and can have a strong effect on our energy levels and metabolism.
In order to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, we must first establish a healthy relationship with ourselves and the food we eat. The truth is, we don’t lose weight because we’ve found the right diet plan, or achieved super human willpower. We can achieve a healthy body weight when we change the way we think and feel about food, and allow positive thinking to fuel positive actions and lifelong behaviour!
“Your thoughts form your world. What you focus on in your life grows, what you think about expands and what you dwell on determines your destiny.”
– Who Will Cry When You Die, By Robin Sharma
How many times have you said the following to yourself?
“My metabolism is naturally slow.”
“I gain weight just by thinking about food.”
“I will always be overweight.”
“It’s impossible for me to lose weight.”
“Being overweight is in my genes. There’s nothing I can do to control it.”
Our mind has the power to shape our reality. The words we speak to ourselves on a daily basis have a profound influence on our lives. Become aware of your own personal dialogue.
What are you telling yourself every day?
If we can change how we think, we can change how we eat and nourish ourselves. Rewiring your brain to change the way you think about food can impact your health, happiness, and yes, can even have an effect on your metabolism. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing, demonstrates through multiple case studies that transforming, or healing the body can be stimulated by conscious habits of thought and action, by teaching the brain to “rewire itself”. It’s called neuroplasticity, and it’s a super power we all are born with. Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways. It is the brain’s way of tuning itself to meet your very own needs. Habitual thoughts and actions over time determine our destiny. If we think negative thoughts that are filled with harsh judgments towards ourselves, our actions will follow our thoughts and we get what we focus on.
The Nocebo Effect
Most of us have heard of “the placebo effect,” a phenomenon in which a placebo, or fake treatment improves a patient’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful. But sometimes the effect goes the other way, and a placebo can cause unpleasant symptoms. The same mind-body power that can heal, can also do harm. When patients in double-blinded clinical trials are warned about the side effects they may experience if they are given the real medication, approximately 25% experience severe side effects, even when they are only taking the placebo. This is called the “nocebo” effect.
Both the placebo and nocebo effect are two types of outcomes referred to as “expectation” effects. This means that the person taking the placebo may experience a side effect they expecting to happen. If a person expects to feel better, they often do. If the person believes they are taking a medication that may cause side effects, studies show, negative side effects are more likely reported. The placebo does not cause any of these effects directly. Instead, what the person believes creates a reaction.
Negative Thoughts Really Do Harm Your Health!
Researchers in San Diego examined death records of 28,169 Chinese-Americans and compared them to over 400,000 randomly selected matched controls. What they found was that Chinese-Americans die significantly earlier than normal (by as much as five years) if they have a combination of disease and fall within a birth year which Chinese astrology and Traditional Chinese Medicine consider ill-fated.
The researchers found that the stronger the Chinese-Americans attached to their traditional beliefs, the earlier they died. When the data was examined, they concluded that the reduction in life expectancy could not be explained by genetic factors, lifestyle choices or behaviour of the patients, or any other variable. The researchers could only conclude that the early death rates were not due to their genes, but because of their beliefs. They believe they will die younger because it is their fate, and those negative beliefs manifested as a shorter life span.
Medical School Syndrome
Another study shows that 70 to 80 percent of medical students report developing symptoms suggestive of the illnesses they are studying. Focusing your attention on health problems has been scientifically proven to predispose the body to illness. Excessive knowledge about what can go wrong with the human body can create paranoia and the body complies by getting sick. Although some might consider medical school syndrome trivial, mental health experts insist it is not a light matter. Imagined health problems can lead to real anxiety and manifest actual symptoms.
Every thought we have and self-judgment we make, impacts a field of energy around us. If every thought we have about ourselves is focused on the negative, we are ensuring and reinforcing that is how we feel. Dwelling on the things we do not like about ourselves, prevents us from focusing on all the positive attributes and beauty within us. The food we eat, as well as the thoughts we think are infused and flavoured with energy. We must work WITH positive and life affirming energy instead of against it.
Beware of your thoughts, they become your words.
Beware of your words, they become your actions.
Beware of your actions, they become your habits.
Beware of your habits, they become your character.
Beware of your character, it becomes your destiny.
Next Section: The Self Love Challenge – Silencing Your Inner Critic.
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