Positive Mindset

Positive Mindset = Positive Change [Podcast Episode #041]

Eat healthier. Exercise more. Get better sleep. Stop stressing.

The list of things you "should" be doing to improve your health is a long one. Sometimes this list appears to be so long that just getting started is seemingly impossible. 

Guess what? Forget that to-do list and let's focus on your mindset.

Having a proper mindset is a prerequisite for success. Whether it's in fitness, business, relationally, or in any other area of life, what you think about the situation and about yourself will dictate your success. So, let's adopt a positive mindset and finally see some positive change...

Episode Resources:

Positive Mindset = Positive Change [Full Text]

Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast. This show is all about helping you live a healthier, happier life. I'm really excited that you've talked a little bit of time out of your day to invest in that pursuit. It's so important. Just a little bit of time every day thinking how can you improve your life, how can you improve your health.

Today we're going to be answering a question; it's a really cool question from talking about mindset, how can you flip that switch in your mind to see positive change happen.

Here's Janette's question, she says: "I know this is gonna sound like I'm complaining. Sorry, I don't mean to :-)". She says: "I really wanna live a healthier life. Yes, I wanna lose weight and look better, but I also wanna do it for my family. My husband and I have both gained 50+ pounds since we got married 6 years ago, and we have 2 kiddos now who are gonna be learning from what we do. I wanna set a good example for them from the very start.

Here's the complaining part, both my husband and I are picky eaters and neither of us really love exercise. When we hear other people talk about the high from exercise, we don't get it at all. It always feels like such a chore and therefore has been really hard to stick with for more than a couple weeks at any given time. I know there isn't likely some magic formula that will make healthy living easier, but I'd love some ideas how to make it easier for people like us. Thanks Dave, I really love your podcast."

Janette, thanks for writing in. I know it makes yourself a little bit vulnerable by putting your story out there, but I appreciate it, because you're not alone. I can't emphasize that enough. You are not alone. There are thousands of people out there who are in the same spot. They want to make change, they know what they need to do, but for some reason it just seems like too much.

It's daunting and they don't know how to get started. That's why I talked about this being a bit of a switch, a mental switch, a trigger in your mind that will allow it to seem a little bit more surmountable than it did previously. Instead of me sharing my thoughts on it, I've brought in an expert. My expert guest, he is from what's called Mind is Matter.

His business is all around the idea of helping people switch their mindset to be able to achieve things that previously they weren't able to achieve. I'd love to introduce to you to my guest today. His name is Omar Raafat.

Meet Omar Raafat

Hey Omar, thanks so much for joining us in the show today.

Omar: Thanks for having me David. It's an absolute pleasure.

Dave: I'm excited to have you on the show because you actually, in the world of health and fitness, come at it from a very different perspective than I do. You have a very different specialty. I was wondering if you could start by just telling the audience a little bit about what you do in terms of health and wellness.

Omar: What I do at the moment is, through my sort of experience of working as a head of neck surgeon previously in the past life if you like, I developed a strong interest within mindset. I went on to develop down that road and I started working with people who find that their beliefs and their emotions are holding them back in life.

This can start to be seen within all elements of their life and mainly health and wellness. It can start to affect their moods, their ability to function physically. It can start to cause a little aches and pains ... What I do basically is work with them to uncover the underlying causes and give them the tools to move forward in their life.

Dave: Can you give an example of what sort of clients would you typically work with then?

Omar: Mainly the clients that I see at the moment are people who are just feeling a little bit stuck in life. They've got to a point where they want to create a few things, they have all these dreams and ambitions, but they feel that they're bound due to money issues or due to health issues.

They need some guidance on how to move forward, because they believe that they might not be ... They don't deserve it or they are not good enough, or just certain things like that. It's just mainly beliefs that are holding them back, and showing them that they have the ability to move forward, really.

Dave: Yeah, which actually makes you the perfect guest to talk about Janette's question. You've seen what Janette wrote in and basically she said her and her husband are in a bit of tough situation, because they both want to be healthier. She said she wants to set an example for her family, but basically says listen, I don't like exercise.

That runner's high or the exerciser's high that people talk about, I've never experienced that before ... You see, I like the fact that she said I'm not trying to complain, I'm just stating the facts. She said they're picky eaters ... When you hear someone like this who has a desire to change, but maybe doesn't have the tools or the first steps to change, what do you tell them?

Omar: First of all, I'd applaud them, because it's very brave of her sort of to reach out. That's the first thing. I applaud the fact that she wants to present it in way that she doesn't sound too complaining, which is a nice, positive start to the whole situation.

The Mindset Shift

I would want to question a few things, because I was reading through Janette's letter that you sent me, and it says that they were quite healthy and fit before they got married, and then things changed afterwards. I'd be interested to see what the mindset shift was before and afterwards ...

Usually Dave, what happens is when we create a situation or we develop a certain position in our life if you like, then our mindset shifts. In order for that to happen, we surely know what it was like before. We have the solution within us. It's just tapping back into that.

Dave: That's interesting that you bring that up. I get a lot e-mails everyday of people asking questions, and I've noticed that there are some key events that quite often people reference as being points that their life did change, positively or negatively ...

Some is going to school, college or university, getting married, having kids. Then, quite often I deal with a lot of women who are going through menopause, when there's the physiological changes that are happening ... What do you see in terms of, are there other life events? Or are those the ones that you see that are the big shifting points as well?

Omar: I'm glad you brought that up. When we say stress in life, there's a lot of talk about how stress is bad for our health, and then they usually leave it at that. People tend to assume that stress is a negative thing, yet stress can be any change from norm within your life. As you said, it can be starting school, university. It could be a new house, it could be promotion, it could be a job. With all these significant changes or events within our life, they can trigger a sudden change in our minds ...

What've advised listeners to is if they have any of these issues going on, try and trace it back to when it started initially and think about what was going on in your life at that time. Usually, when people do that, they have this eureka moment where things sort of click into place. They can start to tie what the event was, how they were feeling about it, and then how their mood or their aches and pains started or whatever.

Key Action: Change How You Interpret Events in Your Life

Dave: Okay. The next obvious question then is, what do people do when they've identified what that moment was? Some of them are pretty clear. I talk a lot with parents and parents will say: "Hey, once we had a kid, jeez ... Life changed and things got much more challenging." What can people actually do though to get back to that point before that change?

Omar: Change is inevitable. It is the only constant in life. The control that we have or the power that we have over it is you can't really change the events. Whether they be positive or negative, the event has happened. What we can do is we can learn to change how we interpret the event. Does that make sense?

Dave: Yeah, it totally does. Can you elaborate on that a little bit? Maybe even referencing Janette's situation. She does talk about pre-marriage and then in post-marriage now. How would that apply to someone like herself?

Omar: Absolutely. For Janette, was it a case of, I'm completely going on speculation, assumption here ... Was it a case of beforehand she was single and wanted to be in shape and keep fit, because she was seeking a partner, and then afterwards she got comfortable? Usually when we find our comfort zone, we tend to switch off if you like.

We can get very complacent and it's quite sad to say that when we feel at ease, we tend to let go of many things, because it becomes easy ... With Janette's situation, is that the case? I would also be wanting to know, is there anything after the marriage that became of benefit. Was there sort of a gain to be had by just sort of letting go and relaxing, if that makes sense.

How others see you is not important. How you see yourself means everything.

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Relationships and Their Influence On Change

Dave: Yeah, totally. Again, maybe you could touch on this as well. Sometimes I find that when people are in a relationship, they can be either proponents of healthy change or proponents of unhealthy change.

Quite often I hear from couples who will say: "Well, my husband and I, we come home, we're really tired, and we go and sit on the couch." It's almost as if because someone else is sitting on the couch and just eating whatever it is, junk food or relaxing, it almost gives me a permission to do it as well. Whereas if I was a single, I'd feel bad or feel more motivated to not do that. Is that something that you've run into as well?

Omar: Yeah, exactly. That's sort of what I was touching on a bit earlier. That's what I meant by secondary gain, so when you find, and I see this quite often especially with couples as you say ... I'll get one of the couples come in and say "Oh, well. You know, my partner comes home and they just finish off work, sit on the couch. So I feel compelled to sit on the couch with them and spend some quality time."

It just becomes an excuse. Sitting on the couch is their sort of answer for spending quality time together. They feel that if they change anything within their lifestyle, then they're sacrificing that ... I was just saying, that's another thing also for maybe listeners and even Janette to look into, is there something that she is not willing to sacrifice in order to pursue this healthier lifestyle?

As you know Dave, it's really difficult. I mean I say it's really difficult ... It takes work to make a change. It takes work to stay healthy, to get fit, to go to the gym, to exercise. To start with, it really is a nightmare. I don't think that anyone really likes it to start with.

Dave: That sounds so depressing. For all the listeners out there, Omar is exaggerating when he says it's a nightmare.

Omar: I am exaggerating. No, I am absolutely exaggerating. It is a case of, just with any change that you have because your mind is not used to it, so it just takes a while to sort of develop that pattern and that routine. It's a case of you have to start pushing yourself bit by bit to get there. It's not a nightmare as in a negative sense, no. It just takes a little bit of work.

Dave: Yeah, I'm sure everyone understands what you're talking about. I just don't want to scare off anyone who thinking "Yeah, maybe I'll start to exercise. Wait a second, they just said it's a nightmare". Talking about being in a relationship, sometimes when we want to change, and Janette even talked about this ... She talked about changing for her family and this idea of her sort of wanting to, it sounded to me like, pull along her husband. Do you have any insights into that? Is that a healthy approach? Should we think about doing it for other people? Should it be for ourselves?

Change For Yourself

Omar: Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up. It definitely has to be for ourselves, because at the end of the day, even though we may have responsibilities and loved ones around us that we care for and everything, as selfish as it may sound, it is your life.

Actually inadvertently by living your life, so by doing it for yourself, you're doing those around you a favor. Change and leading comes by example. If Janette decides that she wants to do it for herself rather than her family, she might find then that she has a stronger push and that by doing this for herself, she starts to positively influence all those around her.

When we change for ourselves, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

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It's also a case of, and I was going to touch on this a little later on, we can easily change our mindset just by shifting the words that we use. If we move towards something and focus on the things that we want rather than focusing on the things that we don't want, we can start to find a very positive shift in our lives...

To answer your question Dave, I'd say definitely, it makes a big difference and that she should focus on doing it for herself more importantly than doing it for others.

Dave: I'd like to explore little bit of what you just said about language. That's very interesting to me, because even re-reading her message, she does use some negative language and talks about I'm a picky eater. We don't love exercise. We don't get this exercise high ... Can you give some examples of some positive language that people can use like Janette to get them out of that sort of funk?

Using Positive Language to Nurture Positive Beliefs

Omar: If we take Janette's actual words and we take, for example, the part that you just mentioned. What was that? We don't love exercise?

Dave: Yeah, her exact words, I'm reading right now. She says: "Neither of us really love exercise."

Omar: Okay. If we were to take that "neither of us really loves exercise" and we were to change it into "I love to take care of my body."

Dave: Okay.

Omar: Then you can start exploring it. I don't love exercise, fine, but I do love being healthy. I love being able to move freely. How do I achieve that? Through exercise ... Do you notice how that little shift where you focus on the outcome, so what I love is being healthy, what I love is being able to move freely ... By focusing on what I love or what I want, then I can find ways of introducing it that sort of push me towards it.

Dave: Well done. I can tell you have some expertise in this. I was thinking how is he going to turn "I don't love exercise" into a positive, but I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that they love to be able to move freely.

Omar: Exactly. If we go to the other point they were saying, "we are picky eaters". If we were to shift picky eaters, just saying "I enjoy my food. I'm selective about what I eat. I can enjoy things that appeal to my taste" ... Then it sort of gives it more of a positive twist to it, rather than saying I'm picky and I don't really eat this and that sort of thing.

Dave: I know one of programs that I run I teach cleanses, how to sort of clean up their diet and eat a healthy diet. Sometimes we get clients that are so focused on what we're trying to remove from their diets, so removing processed foods or removing high-sugar foods and things like that, they can become very fixated on "I can't eat this food that I love so much".

If you think positively and feel positively, positive things will happen in your life.

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What I've sort of shifted in the program is providing a huge list of foods that they can try and introduce. It's exactly what you just said, focus on what's available, that positive, as opposed to always framing it in the negative.

Omar: Yeah, absolutely. To follow on from that, the key is gratitude, really. We tend to get in this road of focusing on I don't have this, I can't do this sort of thing. We completely forget all the amazing things that we can do and all the amazing things that we have already that we can use to push us even further forward if we choose to. Just existing as humans, that in itself is something to be highly grateful for.

If people also start focusing themselves ... If Janette will say okay, I don't really love the idea of exercise, but I have the ability and the choice to exercise. I have the choice to be healthy, and to do so I'm going to make XYZ changes. That can also have a very strong influence on someone's behavior.

Dave: Yeah, I love that. Even just hearing you say that, that choice, the freedom of it is very available to most people if not everyone.

Omar: Absolutely. We all have choice. We may not always like the choices. We may not always agree with the choices. Yet, at the end of the day, in any given situation, we always have a choice. Once you start to really accept that and let that sink in for a while, you become very powerful, and you realize that you are more in control of your life than you thought.

The Importance of Finding the Right Exercise For YOU

Dave: Omar, one of the other things that I wanted to ask you specifically about that Janette wrote was when she talked about this whole high from exercise and just that idea of comparing herself to others.

Again, I'm sort of reading into her message a little bit, but I imagine that her and most of the listeners know people who really do love exercise. It can become frustrating when say your sister or your neighbor goes out running and just talks about it how it's so great and you feel like I could never do that. Do you have any suggestions about that whole idea of comparing versus other people?

Omar: First of all, in terms of comparing, I'd say there is no need to compare. You are your own individual. We are all very different and what necessarily appeals to you and how you perceive the world around you is very different to the next person. That's all in regards to that point.

The other point Dave, and I'm sure you know this, there's so many different types of exercises and movements and things that people can do that the options of what you enjoy and what you don't enjoy are endless, really. For some people it may be getting this high from going out jogging, for others, it may be hitting the gym or a yoga class or whatever.

It's really a case of, I think, trial and error and finding what suits your lifestyle and what works for you. I know for me personally, this is as I said a very personal thing, I try to get into running and it never really worked for me. My choice of exercise is a combination of going to the gym, yoga, and kitesurfing.

Dave: That's cool. I couldn't agree more. That's the message I really do preach. Even the concept of exercise, I think if you probably ask most people what does it mean to exercise, exactly like you said, most people would default to running or some form of distinct cardio exercise, or going to the gym and lifting weights. There's a whole lot of room for other experimentation in there.

Omar: Yeah, absolutely. Even if it's like a zumba class or water aerobics. There's so many options out there, it's unbelievable. Especially in this day and age at the moment, fitness seems to be everywhere, so the options for movement and just keeping active ... I would just recommend finding something that works for you, your schedule, and have fun with it. That's the main thing, have fun with it.

The Magic Formula For Positive Mindset

Dave: Yeah, it's so important. One other thing that I wanted to ask you that Janette touched on, she used this statement, she says "I realize that there isn't a magic formula". She is looking for some way to get motivated to get started. She's like I know there's not a magic formula, but she's still looking for something. I know there has to be some sort of change. What would you say to get that original motivation to take the first steps? Where does that come from?

Omar: Baby steps. The secret to it is baby steps. What I mean by that is I struggled for a long time with the concept of baby steps. I suppose it's the society that we live in where we want everything instantly, we want to hit the ground running and everything is now. You start to realize that it's about taking small steps in a direction will eventually lead you there ... Set small goals.

I would recommend to Janette to set easy, achievable, small goals. Once she gets to those, she can then push the goal further and further and just keep extending it that way. So rather than saying if, for example, she decides to go down the running route, set yourself a task of running 10 miles within the first month, she can start off with okay, I'll run for 5 minutes every day and then the next month I'll run for 15 minutes or 10 minutes and so on and so forth. Just build it up gradually, but that would be my advice.

Dave: I love that, a really practical point for any of the runners out there. I know that most people when they get started they do do exactly what you were talking about, they sort of build. When you ever do a running group, quite often what they do is have a one minute on, one minute off style of running. Run for a minute or jog for a minute, and then walk for a minute. For someone who is just starting, someone like Janette, that's a whole lot more approachable than thinking I've got to go out and run for a half an hour.

One small step at a time is the surest way to get to where you'e going.

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Omar: Exactly, yeah. Also, this may help with a positive mindset, the idea of baby steps. Once again, if she goes out and starts running for 5 minutes, then she can start to appreciate the run. She can start to appreciate the whole how it feels to her body, how she starts to change over time.

That's another thing that we sometimes miss out if we start rushing into things: just the progression and the journey towards something is actually quite beautiful in itself and create a whole world of enjoyment.

Dave: I 100% agree. A quick little story to emphasize that point. I recently met a friend through a running group, and this girl she runs all the time. We actually just did a half marathon together last week. When I was chatting with her about her running story, she told me she just started running 2 years ago, went out to a running club, and they asked her to run 4 kilometers the first night.

She said she just about died running these 4 kilometers, but exactly what you said. She said afterwards she felt such a sense of empowerment and then quickly saw her body changing. Now, it's hard to take her away from running, she just loves it. It's just a matter of, like you said, getting started, what's that first step.

Omar: Absolutely. Just take the step. It is a case though, once you decide on something ... When you take a decision and you take that first step, you're already on a road to success. You're already on there.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We like to keep this show nice and short and very actionable. I always like to ask the guest that join me for what's called a Make Your Body Work takeaway. Omar, what would you say to someone who is in Janette's position. They want to make healthy change. They maybe don't love what they think they need to do in order to get that healthy change to stick. What's one piece of advice for people like that that they could start doing today?

Omar: The advice would be: A) Don't be harsh on yourself. Be very kind and loving to yourself. B) find something that you love. Find something that will encourage you to do it. Make the decision. Take the first step as we just said, and find that thing that will give you the excitement to move forward. Follow the excitement.

Dave: I couldn't agree more. Absolutely, love it. Omar, can you tell the listeners where could they find out more about you, about the work that you do? How can they connect with you?

Omar: They can connect with me via my website, which is mindismatter.com, or they can feel free to e-mail me at omar@mindismatter. They can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, Mind is Matter, as well for updates, and workshops, and talks that I'm doing.

Dave: Awesome. Thank you again, I really appreciate your wisdom and I appreciate you taking the time to join us today.

Omar: Thank you for having me Dave, been a pleasure.

Dave: Thanks again Omar for taking the time to join us today and share some of your expertise. I really appreciate the practical advice and that message of loving yourself, being a little bit easier on yourself. Don't beat yourself up, and how can we take those baby steps to start seeing some change that we're looking for in life. Really great wisdom, appreciate that.

Thanks to all the listeners. I've always said this before, but without you there would be no Make Your Body Work podcast, so please continue to send me your questions. Honestly, it is the highlight of my day. I love checking, who says this, I love checking my e-mail. I do. I love waking up and checking my e-mail and getting such amazing questions.

I see these trends and I see that people ask the same questions over and over again. It just shows me that there's a need for information, but even more than that, there's a need out there for support and for encouragement. That's what I want this podcast to be. I want it to be encouraging to you, inspiring to you that you can do it, because you can. You can make change. Just like Omar said, it's all about baby steps.

If you're in a place where you'd like some change specifically to maybe lose some weight and get in a better shape, I'd love to be your coach. I run a program called the "10 in 4" Challenge, where we sort of dissect about changes that we can make in terms of healthy eating and exercise, and then we start to implement those changes together as a group.

If that sounds like something that you might be interested in, check out 10in4.com and you can see all the details. Feel free to contact me at dave@makeyourbodywork.com. Thanks again for joining me today and I can't wait to see you here again next week.

Thanks for joining me today!