Your state-of-mind is probably the single most important factor in any weight-loss, body-building or dieting regime. You can eat healthy, run or workout but if your mind isn’t in it then you won’t get the full benefit out of your active healthy endeavours. The importance of a balanced diet, making sure you are exercising correctly and taking breaks and keeping yourself hydrated are basic elements.
However, sometimes people find their motivation lacking. It happens to everyone but there are actions individuals can take to stem the tide of negativity in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, let’s look at the potential barriers both physically, mentally and environmentally which could affect, in negative terms, your successful endeavour to start, continue or further your healthy living lifestyle choices.
Researchers from Sidney, China to Chicago have found that positive behavioural strategies surrounding positive motivation mentalities have the highest impact on individuals adjusting their lifestyle choices to incorporate diet and exercise (Donnelly, 2004: p1016, Cheng et al, 2009: p1032, Wolfson, 2000: p882). The world of sport science and the wider community of fitness enthusiasts all agree that a positive and healthy outlook is the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle. So let’s look at different actions that people can undertake to better tackle the issue of negative mentalities and attitudes in a healthy lifestyle.
So what can you do to help?
Don’t focus on the bad stuff. It’s that simple.
A lot of people fixate on what they can’t eat or do. Whilst it’s important to keep going for that run or a session down the gym and to keep off the sugary foods, simultaneously it’s bad for you to focus only on the negatives. This negative mentality will feed into your psyche. This will have a negative effect on your biomechanical and psychological attitude and performance. So what can you do?
The experts say goal setting is a great way to negate unsupportive thoughts and actions. By planning your diet and workout in a way that sees you being rewarded with treats for your endeavours and conversely punished for failure will in combination help your create a balanced mentality. The healthy activities will a) help you lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst b) it will help you focus on what you want and don’t want out of life.
Therefore, instead of focusing on the fact you can’t eat that chocolate bar, and have that slice of Pizza or that pint. Moderate yourself by giving yourself a ‘treat day’. This is your day-off. The body requires a day off and as such by planning your ‘treat day’ around your day-off it will be seen as a physical and psychological break from the norm. This will mean that psychologically you will enjoy that glass of wine, that slice of pizza or that bar of chocolate more as it’s been something you’ve been building up to all week.
Get help from you friends and family
Some people don’t like people knowing they want to lose weight or even that they go to the gym. By being secretive or putting-up with people – loved ones or ‘friends’ who are not supportive of your life goals – mean you need to reinforce your goals and ambitions in terms of your social circle. The more outward you are the more gratifying the reciprocation will be.
You could use the myriad of social networking fitness ‘apps’ available for Smartphone’s to help keep your friends and loved ones up-to-date with your fitness and eating endeavours. Researchers have found that negative support, as oppose to positive support, from families (i.e. feeling like you have to lose weight because your family thinks so) has an inverse effect on weight loss outcomes (Mullan, 1997: p349-352). By being surrounded by positive support your own motivations – and therein your own mentality – will be greatly improved. So don’t take any rubbish of friends and family – make them aware of your goals and how important they are to you.
Go to bed and get some rest
Sleep and rest are your friends. Your body needs sleep and rest to repair the biomechanical wear and tear of the gym or outdoor activity and diet you are undertaking. You need to relax and you need to have a good night’s sleep. These two elements are a big part of your body’s repair cycle and as such you need to think about managing your time more efficiently. If you think you don’t have enough time for sleep or rest then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your lifestyle? If you want to start working out or are a seasoned fitness enthusiast then you need to know that muscle growth occurs during periods of bodily recovery. Your muscles don’t grow when your pumping iron, they start to grow and tone once you finish your workout and rest.
You might be thinking; wait, that can’t be right! After I workout my muscles are pumped! In reality, the blood and bodily muscle fibres are inflamed and this gives you the mental burst of being pumped. When in fact the real growth happens during your sleep as this is where the science occurs. It’s called HGH (Human Growth Hormone), and during your sleep – more technically during deep sleep your body releases growth hormones, cells are replaced and muscular tissue and fibre is strengthened. The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. Researchers claim “improved healthy activity will in turn improve sleeping behaviour and patterns” (Rochelle, 1999: p1021). This win-win approach means that if you exercise regularly, take a day off every week to rest your body, and get a good night’s sleep every night whilst eating healthy, your body, biologically, will work even harder to maintain your healthy lifestyle.
Having an Addiction and a healthy lifestyle: A Challenge?
Some people have healthy and some people have unhealthy vices. Remember that smoking, drinking in excess and taking illegal substances will all affect, negatively, your mental state during exercise. If you have recently given up an addictive drug – like cigarettes – your motivation and mentalities will be challenged and as such you need to re-evaluate your needs and targets. There are some people who believe smoking will aid weight loss, the science however is certain that smoking does not help in terms of weight loss or creating a healthy lifestyle (Strauss, 2001: p128). The research conducted on smoking and weight loss surround the lack of eating and increased nicotine intake as adversely affecting eating behavior. However, the long-term effects of nicotine poisoning which are well documented and researched outweigh the short-term behavioral response to an increased nicotine intake.
Focus on doing more, not less in life
Your body can get used to activities and tasks rather quickly. This means that your diet and your workout, if it remains stagnant, will be pointless. However, a vicious constant reappraisal which sees you cut calories constantly and workout for longer and longer will also see negative results. You need to focus on doing more – what this means is that to avoid a plateau in your activities you need to mix it up constantly. This can be done by doing a short run on Monday, for thirty minutes – followed by a high carb meal. On Tuesday you could go for a swim and eat a salary, Wednesday could see you hit the weights whilst eating a chicken dinner, Thursday could see you go for a 5k run whilst eating a lamb curry whilst Friday could be your day off and a nice pizza with a cold beer.
If you mixed these different behaviours around it would affect your metabolism and your body’s reaction to working out. By continuously challenging your body you can effect a greater change and better results. The research behind this claims “improved metabolism occurs when individuals combine numerous activities in order to counter neutral biomechanical responses” (Stephenson et al, 2006: p332).
Mentalities are important in defining your character. The very individual you are in life is constructed upon you motivations and attitudes. Therefore, by challenging negative mentalities and attitudes in order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, individuals can greatly increase their mental and bodily responses to a healthy lifestyle. The best actions you can undertake to help mentally and therein physically be better prepared surround getting positive support from friends and family, fixating on the positive not the negative, getting rest and a good night’s sleep along with focusing your attention of diversifying your activities and dieting habits. By following these four rules individuals can achieve greater success by being better and more engaged in their workout activities through being more psychologically motivation in their own positive goals and targets.