Change Talk In Relation to Physical & Mental Health (May 2019)

When it comes to beginning a fitness journey, we often times are not mindful about how critical it is to tie our mental and physical wellness together. With May being Mental Health Awareness month, it’s a great opportunity to delve into this. Why do people decide to change? Whenever anyone decides to make a life change, there are several steps we process through at a time. This is called Change Talk.

Unknowingly, anytime there is a life decision, everyone naturally goes through or stays stuck in these steps. We frequently provide reasons to do or not to something. This process looks slightly different for everyone however, the gist is still the same. Let’s use an example for changing your health. Maybe, you’re ready to begin a weight loss journey, or working through steps to eat healthier, or have set a goal to begin a steady workout routine as examples.

We start with desire. When you hear yourself saying things like, “I really want to change my eating habits or I wish I would lose some weight.” We then step into ability which is our acknowledging that this is a possibility. “I can start exercising to lose weight. I can start eating one meal that is healthier in a day.” From ability, we go to reasons. This is the inventory that we take for reasons why we feel we should do this. Maybe it is meant as a healthier habit to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Maybe it is that you have recently had a health scare that you do not want to get worse. It could be a coping skill for managing emotions. This will then turn into the need. We are now seeing the need behind our decisions. Is it important to create new habits and examples within your family and with your children? Do you need to create a healthier lifestyle to live longer? Do you want to create a new value system for yourself and make this a priority that you’ve always wanted it to be? Lastly, we step into our commitment phase. This is the moment where you have made the decision to do everything possible to make the change you’re looking for. Does this mean you will not stumble or have setbacks? Absolutely not. We all do; myself included. There will be moments where you go through these phases again, maybe multiple at a time, and that’s normal. The great news is, you can be at any stage and work towards change. Discover yourself. Be honest with yourself.

We have to learn to “roll with our own resistance” as Motivational Interviewing techniques would tell us. Every day will not feel like a great day to work towards your goal. Every day will not be motivating or full of discipline. Every day you will not have 100% to give and that is okay. What matters is that you do not step on your own toes with blaming, shaming, or punishing yourself. We defeat ourselves in mind first then body because we give ourselves reasons why we are not good enough to keep going. This can take many forms. Some people decide to eat their emotions. Some people overwork their bodies because they feel inadequate or like they did not do enough for the day. Others decide that they are done trying for the moment because they feel defeated.

Although balance is not my favorite word, I do want to take the opportunity to find the positive in this word which is that we are never going to feel 100% balanced. We, as humans, are not going to feel like our lives are balanced in every area. The bigger picture is that we learn to take care of ourselves, physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally to create a better self. We are all in this journey together and no one has it figured out. That is the beauty of mental health. Maybe you choose to exercise because you want to destress from the day and decrease anxiety. Maybe you have changed your eating to support better gut health. Maybe you have taken the time to be more mindful with your eating habits and how they tie to your emotions.

We all have a path to wellness. You are the expert in your life, we are here to collaborate, support, and help facilitate healthy minds and bodies based on the work you’ve already started to put in. Stay focused, keep a plan, and remember why you started. The kinder you are to yourself mentally, the easier it will be to stay dedicated to the physical changes you desire for yourself.