Ep#102 How Your Perception of Health Impacts Your Health – Mindset Matters
There is an abundance of research that shows that adopting healthy behaviors alone won’t get us where we want to go, we need to find ways to cultivate healthy thoughts too. It’s quite profound to think that by simply challenging our own perceptions we can see improvements in our health. On this special solo episode, I share why health messaging needs to move beyond nutrition and exercise and take the role of mindset just as seriously.
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.
Christine Okezie (33s):
Hello, and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening. So on today’s special solo episode, we’re going to talk about the power of mindset. So when a prospective client comes to me through the door of nutrition, whether they want to release excess weight, resolve, or mitigate a health condition, what comes out is that our coaching work will first and foremost, focus on the deep change work at the level of mindset. It’s simply not enough to say eat this. Don’t eat that, do more of this and less of that parallel to nutrition, education and learning about the body’s functioning must be a gentle exploration of attitudes and beliefs about food, their body’s health, and usually life itself.
Christine Okezie (1m 18s):
But this approach is not just woo or for the sake of me interested in human behavior. It turns out there is an abundance of research that shows that mindset is a critical variable in the health equation because of its very real effects on our physiology. In fact, there’s a growing body of research that shows that our perceptions and mindsets predict one’s health and longevity, particularly in the domains of stress, diet and obesity. In other words, it turns out that in pursuit of good health and longevity adopting healthy behaviors alone, won’t get us where we want to go. We need to find ways to cultivate healthy thoughts too.
Christine Okezie (1m 59s):
We need to shift and counteract the effects of the all too common, negative thinking patterns about ourselves and how we see ourselves. For example, when I start working with a client they’re usually coming from a place feeling very discouraged about their body, very discouraged about lab results or light lifestyle habits. They feel like they’ve tried all the diets and all the cleanses they’re, they’re not feeling motivated to exercise. They’re stressed out about fitting in more healthy cooking or meal planning into their already busy schedule. Many admit they’re really fearful about their health and have low confidence in their ability to be successful. Now, underlying this disempowered mindset are whole bunch of very common, negative thoughts.
Christine Okezie (2m 43s):
I’m too old. My metabolism is broken. It’s too hard. I don’t have time. It’s my genes. I don’t want to end up like my mom or dad. It’s just too late to change. I’ll never be healthy. See our mindsets when it comes to these beliefs, limiting beliefs about our abilities, especially when, by the way. And this is a big one in the, you know, the healthy eating and fitness world. When we compare ourselves and our perceived abilities to others, this plays a crucial role in our health. It affects number one, our motivation and thus our ability to develop healthy habits and behaviors, but also number two directly on our physiology on the surface.
Christine Okezie (3m 26s):
The fact that how we think could have such a powerful effect on our health may seem provocative, but take a moment just to consider how our everyday experiences, our stressful thoughts, chronic worrying can have very palpable physiological effects. We get tension, headaches, upset, stomachs. We are skin breaks out. We have food cravings, fatigue. We become more susceptible to colds and illness. And then of course, there’s just the story that we may be telling ourselves day in and day out. That shapes our sense of self. If we believe that we are too old or too weak, we’re likely to remain inactive, feel unmotivated, to make any necessary changes, which only serves to fuel more fear, stress and depression that can negatively affect health.
Christine Okezie (4m 15s):
There’s a fascinating study in particular that took place in 2007, 84 hotel maids were divided into two groups. One group was instructed that their work alone was enough to achieve the recommended amounts of weekly physical activity to stay healthy. The other group was given no instruction at all. Four weeks later, the researchers checked in with both groups of hotel maids and we measured some important health markers. Now the group that was told that they were doing enough physical activity just in their day to day work responsibilities. And by the way, this group had previously perceived themselves as inactive. These group of maids experienced reductions in weight, body fat and blood pressure among other positive outcomes.
Christine Okezie (5m 1s):
Now the group that was given no instruction and also performed the same day in and day out, responsibilities showed none of these positive changes. In other words, these improvements were made without either group changing their physical activity. The research also site the established influence of placebo effects where patients who think they’re getting treatment experience physiological changes without actually receiving that actual treatment. So in the same way, the folks who believe that they were getting good exercise just through their normal hotel work responsibilities may have experienced more physiological benefits from them exercise than those who believe they aren’t getting enough exercise.
Christine Okezie (5m 44s):
Now, there is also research that suggests that how a person views their illness, their health issue may play a bigger role in determining their health outcome more than the actual severity of a disease. Yes, you heard it right. What you think about your illness or health issue matters just as much, if not more, according to the research in determining the health outcome fascinating. And finally, there are studies that show that how we think about stress affects how our bodies react to stress. Our body will literally release different chemicals, which help or hurt your body.
Christine Okezie (6m 26s):
So we can decide if stress is good or bad. Our relationship with stress changes our body’s reaction to stress. So this has huge implications by answering this question is, you know, why do some of us thrive instead of struggle, when life’s pressures are on? And the answer is really clear mindset. So it really is profound to think that simply challenging our own perceptions can cause improvements in our health, but it really does make so much sense because our perception determines how we process information, how we feel about our environment, our situation, and thus how we respond and make choices.
Christine Okezie (7m 10s):
I often say that it’s not the circumstances or events in our lives that impact us as much as the meanings that we’re choosing to make of them. In fact, similarly, one of my favorite quotes around this is from Wayne Dyer. And he says, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change our perception determines our reality. And in that reality, you can feel empowered in your health journey or a victim of your circumstances. It’s your choice. It’s time that health messaging around good nutrition and exercise start to take the role of mindset in health. Seriously. When it comes to achieving our goals, we need to accept that willpower is just not enough.
Christine Okezie (7m 53s):
And by the way, neuroscience backs this up and that more than likely if you’re really stuck, it’s probably our thinking that needs adjusting. Now changing our mindset. Our perspective takes a commitment to inner work to self exploration. But the good news is that we now know that our brains are totally rewired regardless of how long we’ve been on this planet because of a quality known as neuroplasticity. We can change our thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs, and it’s quite literally thus a life-changing invitation. Should we choose to accept it so many ways to, to approach this?
Christine Okezie (8m 35s):
We can use mindfulness and self observation practices, tools that calm and balance our nervous system strategies that are designed to change our negative self-talk. But I think a big one is simply choosing to focus deeply on our own learning and growth instead. So much of on achievement and outcome, enjoying the process. In other words, I often say that the journey is the goal, and I hope now that after today’s episode, you appreciate just a little bit more about how you travel on your journey, determines the outcome. So thanks so much for listing my friends.
Christine Okezie (9m 16s):
And if you do like the episode, I’d be grateful if you’d hang out at apple podcast, leave a rating and review. And if you haven’t already hit the subscribe button, please do so. So you don’t miss an episode that comes out every Thursday. Thanks so much for listening again and bye for now.