Archived Story

Better health through a stronger mindset

Published 7:34pm Saturday, September 21, 2013

By Mike Hayes

Having worked in the fitness arena for more than three years now, I have witnessed hundreds of people walk through our doors with a tremendous level of frustration with their own state of health. I know, because I was one of them. The vast majority of people who have either become deconditioned or gained weight over the years walk into our facility with a sense of anger for allowing their overall health to deteriorate. Not able to find a place to start, they arrive at a point where they ask themselves: how do I begin to reclaim my body and my health?

Like most aspects of our lives, we hold the answers we seek within ourselves. Objective information regarding calories, nutrition, and types of exercise are available through various media forms and websites. The hard part is filtering this information and finding out what works for you.

I would like to suggest that while this health reclamation process isn’t rocket science, it does require a sort of mental framework from which you can understand how you got to this point and how you are going to move forward. Intellectually, this process is easy to grasp. The tough part is the emotional struggle that we have in coming to terms with those answers and what they say about us and what we have done to ourselves.

This process entails five key concepts:

1. Pressing the reset button — It seems strange to talk about forgiveness as a key concept to managing your health, but I believe that part of what holds us back lies within our own hearts and minds. The only way you are ever going to resolve your own internal conflict about who you are and what you are capable of, is to understand that however you got to this point cannot be changed. Period. You must forgive your own past mistakes and see the possibilities ahead of you instead of dwelling on what has already taken place. Decide that today is Day 1. There cannot be a change in behavior without Day 1.

2. Priorities — Defining what is important to our daily existence ultimately determines whether we are willing to do the work necessary to create permanent change in our lives. Ask yourself what is truly important to you. Your ability to maintain any of those priorities consistently is directly connected to your own health. If any of those priorities involve taking care of others, remember that you cannot take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself.

3. Planning — I would like you to look at this concept of planning on a couple of different levels. Executing a physical fitness plan requires goal planning in order to set achievable short-term goals. It also requires a long-term strategy as kind of a road map for the journey ahead of you. Planning takes the guesswork out of what needs to be done. It also gives you the awareness of how important establishing a good routine is to a consistent regimen.

4. Production — This concept is all about how you define your terms of success. While  “weight loss,” “the number on the scale that stares back at you” or “inches lost” may be your determining factor of success, I would suggest that the priorities that you have established do not have a physical number attached to them at which point you will be successful. Being successful at weight management is determined by your ability to participate fully in your daily life.

5. Passing it on — As you feel more and more empowered by your own physical progress, people around you will notice a positive change in you. People that go through the same struggle will notice a difference in how you carry yourself. You will get asked: “How did you do it?” and “What are you doing?” This is your opportunity to participate in the concept of “paying it forward.” Remember how lost you have felt at various points along this road. What a blessing and source of encouragement you will be for others as you share that wisdom you have experienced.

Clinically, weight loss is an easy equation to figure out: eat less, exercise more. You and I know that if it were really that simple, the weight loss industry would not be making billions in profits. That being said, remember that this process of understanding your own weight management requires more than just joining a fitness facility, walking on a treadmill a few days a week or lifting a few weights. It requires an internal understanding of how you process food and exercise, as well as how you process the stress of your everyday life from both a physical and emotional perspective. The answers we arrive at along the way may not be the answers we want, but they will provide the necessary framework from which we can move forward toward a better sense of health and self-control on every level and throughout every day.


Mike Hayes is a personal trainer at the Vidant Wellness Center-Washington and can be reached at 975-4236.


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