We’ve all heard the phrase "mind over matter" – the idea that a person's mental outlook can affect his or her ability to overcome challenges in all facets of life. Popular advocates of this mantra include bestselling author Deepak Chopra, whose extensive body of work promotes the belief that habits and attitude are the main determining factors behind health and happiness. According to Chopra, "Positive input promotes well‒being; negative input impairs well‒being."
When applied to diet and exercise, this mind‒body connection has a huge effect on an individual's chances of making and sustaining lifestyle changes. While you cannot simply wish yourself thinner or fitter, a positive attitude can help you reach your health and fitness goals by doing the following:
In a recent post, we discussed at length how stress contributes to weight gain by elevating cortisol levels and increasing fat deposits around the abdomen. By committing to a positive mental state, making a conscious effort to see the silver lining in every situation, and distancing yourself from negative people or circumstances, you can reduce stress‒related cortisol production and eliminate this invisible stumbling block.
Helping develop good habits
The Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that excellence is not a single act, but rather the result of habit. "We are what we repeatedly do," he wrote.
This same principle holds true with eating and exercise, too. By deliberately reaching for carrot sticks instead of potato chips every time you crave a crunchy snack, or making yourself hop on the treadmill after work instead of simply plopping on the couch, you'll soon develop the healthy eating and exercise habits required for sustained weight loss and fitness.
Believing in your own success
A key element of having a positive attitude is believing in your own success. Otherwise, what would be the point of buying home fitness equipment and setting off on this journey towards better health? Once you truly believe that you can lose 20 pounds or that you really can work through the Couch‒to‒5K program, you'll be mentally prepared to succeed and the real‒world results will quickly follow.
Positive thinking is not merely a fad dreamt up by New Age gurus as a means of marketing self‒help seminars. It's a proven path to success in many of life's toughest endeavors, and should be part of your formula for better health. How have you experienced the effects of positive (or negative) thinking?