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Everyday Fitness

with Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

For Lasting Change, Start with a Power Mind

I’ll bet that more than once most of you have courageously started out on a journey to change yourself for the better, only to find that you continually trip and stumble over life’s speed bumps of stress, causing your journey to come to a grinding halt. We’ve all been there. We pray for change to last, and yet sustainable change seems so elusive. Your gym bag sits buried at the bottom of the closet, your pots and pans gather dust as you rush out to grab fast food, and you never did get around to listening to that meditation CD. Enough is enough. It’s time to create lasting change. The first step is to experience a mental transformation. You can’t just dive into changing up the way you eat or exercise if you don’t have the right mental state. If you’re going to achieve and hold onto a stronger, healthier body, you must have the mindset for success. This is the kind of mindset that allows you to adapt and adjust to life’s stresses, while continuing to take care of yourself. This mindset is what I call the Power Mind.

Armed with the Power Mind, you can make any positive change in your life stick. The Power Mind helps you manage stress without downing a pint of Jamocha Almond Fudge ice cream, or heading for cigarettes, drugs and alcohol to numb your mental angst. The Power Mind also helps you regroup when you stumble, so that you’re not paralyzed every time life throws you a curve ball. And this mindset helps guide you as you balance care giving others with your own self care. Begin your own mental transformation with a simple pledge:

“Today_________(date) I _________(your name) I will begin to practice healthier lifestyle habits and I will make the following commitments. I will give to myself as I give to others. I will value my health as I value the health of my loved ones. I won’t ask ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’ about matters of self care. I will just do it. I humbly accept that I must work to be the best that I can be. I will choose to work for myself, rather than abandon myself. I will take responsibility for my lifestyle behaviors and I commit to practicing them with patience and consistency. And, I will embrace adversity as an opportunity to test my newfound mental and physical strength.”

Print this pledge and post copies of it in key places – on the fridge door, inside the pantry, on your bed stand, in your sneakers – where you’ll be reminded to focus and stay mindful of your change goal. You can share with a close friend – pets count! – who supports your efforts.

The next step is to study and practice the principles that are the foundation of the Power Mind. When I wrote Body for Life for Women, I realized that the key to lasting change resides in the mind, which is why I created the concept of the Power Mind. These are universal principles applicable to men and women of any age. Here’s a quick synopsis of the principles so that you can begin to practice them right away. Remember that to master the Power Mind, you will practice these principles throughout your life, continuously refining your skills. The more you practice, the greater your successes at lasting change.

Creating your own Power Mind means to:

  • adapt and adjust to adversity without self destruction and begin to recognize that tough times are actually golden opportunities to learn about life;
  • stay mentally mindful and in the present, maintaining a focus on the goal;
  • avoid over-thinking, ruminating and complaining and instead become positive and proactive;
  • pursue progress, not perfection;
  • give yourself a license to chill by gifting yourself with Mini Chills (closing your eyes for several minutes or more) of mental rest and peace throughout the day;
  • strive to become a master of regrouping when life’s challenges threaten to derail your journey of change;
  • be self-assertive and fight for the right to take care of yourself;
  • gather and nurture your own support system to help guide you on your journey.

Use this template as a map to help guide you on the road to sustainable change. The stronger your Power Mind, the easier it is to apply new healthy lifestyle behavior changes – nutrition, physical fitness – and make them stick. Start practicing your Power Mind principles today. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be sharing more secrets about how to make your new healthy living habits last for a lifetime.

Think Small Lose Big

Posted by: Pamela Peeke, MD at 1:22 pm

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