Want to lose weight, eat healthy, work out more, detox, or improve your physical health in 2022? What if I told you that your mindset about your body plays a huge role in your success? Today, we’re talking about how to make the physical changes we desire by first getting in touch with the toxic thoughts behind our overeating or self-sabotaging behaviors.
I’ve asked my friend and nationally-recognized fitness expert Wendie Pett for her thoughts on how we can use love our bodies better and meet our fitness goals by letting go of toxic thoughts.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [4:42] How letting go of toxic thoughts helps with weight loss
- [6:41] Do we use food for comfort or food for fuel?
- [9:27] Connecting with God for comfort rather than seeking comfort in food
- [12:26] Wendie’s personal struggle with learning to love her body
- [15:53] Powering through excuses to prioritize health
- [21:18] Rewiring the brain to help us develop healthy habits
- [24:05] Renew your mind about your physical body through contentment
- [34:25] Creating new mindsets to honor and love your body
- [38:52] TODAY’S LISTENER SUBMITTED QUESTION: How can I not let what I see online affect my mindset and my thoughts?
Wendie Pett created her Visibly Fit program 20 years ago to help women get rid of the mental weight of shame, guilt, and blame in order to lose weight and love their bodies better.
Negative thoughts about our weight can represent a protective defense mechanism for women who have experienced tough things in their lives.
[4:42] How letting go of toxic thoughts helps with weight loss
Wendy shares that some women hold onto beliefs that they are too far gone, or they’re too old, so why start now. They feel like they are going to fail again – maybe they have gained and lost that same 30-40 pounds over and over again and they see no reason to bother. Women can also experience fear of failure, as well as a fear of success. For some women, their weight gain has become a defense mechanism where they believe that if they are not as attractive, maybe this certain thing won’t happen again.
Wendie works with women to unravel these different mindsets and seeing women break through and break free is such an amazing experience. Their lives change and they start to see themselves as who they really are. They aren’t damaged goods. Even if nothing traumatic has happened to that person and they are just in a place where they can’t lose weight or haven’t stuck to a plan long enough to lose weight, getting to the root of their thoughts is crucial. Was it something someone said to them in high school? What is the limiting belief that they are allowing to keep them stuck in that place? Why are they continuing to self-sabotage? It is a fascinating process to work through.
[6:41] Do we use food for comfort or food for fuel?
We are bombarded with food options day in and day out, and a lot of us have made attachments with eating certain foods when we feel bad or celebrating with certain foods when we feel good. Wendie points out that food can be a drug. If we are eating unhealthy food as part of the standard American diet (SAD diet), we are releasing certain chemicals into our brains that are actually causing us to crave that very thing. We are then continually going through the drive-thru, chasing that next dopamine hit.
To shake up this process, we need to literally change the wiring of our brains. We have to change how we are eating and go through the detox process. It isn’t fun, but we can go through a detox just like people do with other drugs. We may experience different symptoms from headaches, to chills, to feeling lethargic. People go through all kinds of symptoms when they detox from healthy food.
Additionally, a lot of people do correlate food with comfort. This mindset is something that has been instilled in our culture. When we are young, we might go get an ice cream cone with our parents after getting a boo-boo on our knee. It becomes programmed into us, from an early age, that if we are hurting we should go have some food that we like and that tastes good. Often, these foods are full of sugar or fat, and they make us feel better in the moment. Later, however, we will experience inflammation in your body, feel aches, pains, or illness, and wonder why we did that. Then, we go through the vicious cycle of beating ourselves up. We need to get off that trajectory and onto the right track of healthy thoughts supporting healthy actions.
[9:27] Connecting with God for comfort rather than seeking comfort in food
Many things in the world bring temporary comfort, but we need to recognize God’s availability to comfort us differently than these “counterfeit comforts”, as Wendie calls them. Women might intellectually know that God loves them, but they aren’t living it. They have heard the messages, but the head and the heart are not yet connecting on this matter. We may be turning to food for comfort because we feel disconnected from God, which then plays into some of the issues we have with our weight and our bodies.
Food, certainly, is not the only culprit here. We may turn to things like social media or overspending to get our dopamine. There are so many different ways that people find comfort in the moment, but God is our only true source of comfort. Until we fully surrender to, embrace, and receive His comfort, we are going to continue to seek that which eludes us. Things will give us momentary comfort, but we will never be satisfied. That void that we feel will not be filled until we allow our hearts to be vulnerable before God and we receive the goodness that God has for us.
Wendie shares that she often sees women getting hung up on excuses. They can become trapped in their stories, in addition to experiencing negative emotions. She has heard women try to explain away being “big boned”, coming from a family where everyone is heavy, or resigning themselves to the fact that diabetes is just a generational issue in their families. Wendie wants us to know that it doesn’t have to be that way, because healthy eating and healthy living can have a generational ripple effect as well. We have more control than we realize, and we don’t have to be stuck in our stories. We can create our own new, healthy story at any given time.
[12:26] Wendie’s personal struggle with learning to love her body
While Wendie hasn’t experienced an issue with food, she shares that several years ago she had an issue with alcohol. Before she fully surrendered her life to Christ, she was looking for that thing that would feel good in the moment and help her to unwind. Wendie is grateful for that experience, as she appreciates the full richness of her intimate relationship with Christ. This experience also allows her to empathize with women who seek comfort through food, social media, or whatever else is pulling at them and standing in between them and God’s comfort.
Wendie has taught dance and aerobics for years, so she has been around healthy food for most of her adult life. Growing up in Texas, however, they cooked everything in the FryDaddy and Wendie was surrounded by fried foods. She had high cholesterol in high school, and they wanted her to go on medication. Wendie taught herself how to eat healthy to combat this effect on her body. It was that sense of urgency that gave her the reality check to figure things out, and since then she has continued to learn and use her knowledge to help others understand their health and wellbeing. She had to change her mindset about how she used food before she could make lasting changes in her eating habits.
[15:53] Powering through excuses to prioritize health
While Wendie has been so cognizant of how food affects her body, there are many of us that are trapped in our self-sabotaging behaviors. As women, we are spread so thin, we’re not paying attention, and we’re just tired. We’re coping and existing without full awareness of what is happening, but we know we want the change to happen. We want to get rid of this extra weight, but we are distracted and finding it really hard to figure out what to do to reach our goals.
Wendie acknowledges that women get stuck, and she points out that being “busy” is a common excuse. She urges us to appreciate that our health is our true wealth. We need to get our health in check in order to show up as a better parent, spouse, and community leader. We need to see our body as a gift that houses the Holy Spirit. When we start to see the ways in which we feed, fuel, and move our body as acts of worship, it starts to change the way we do and see things.
To overcome our excuses, we have to be intentional and we need accountability. When we are making big changes in our lives, it helps to have others walking alongside us and providing suggestions that will set us up for success. The person who can walk a journey like this alone is rare. Willpower is from the logical side of our brain, and in the moments that we want to eat comfort food we are operating from our primal and emotional mind. The amygdala is responding to something, and often the prefrontal cortex cannot overpower it.
Being intentional often involves drawing the line for yourself ahead of any opportunity for temptation. If we go to a party, for instance, we might tell ourselves we will eat something small or we won’t eat anything and just have a glass of water. When we show up, however, we see the food and smell the aromas, and we get caught up in the social activity. The next thing we know, we have had two or three plates full and we feel miserable. Setting ourselves up for success would look like bringing something that we can eat or eating before we go to the party. We should stay out of the kitchen entirely while we socialize, and have that plan in place ahead of the event.
[21:18] Rewiring the brain to help us develop healthy habits
Because every action and habit begins with a thought, it’s important that we create new thoughts around food, healthy eating and exercise in order to change our habits. This process is literally rewiring the brain, and new neurons have to grow new connections. Repetition of new habits is key, and after the first time we can start to see that it feels good. We can even reward ourselves in the moment, but not with that comfort or celebratory food. Being intentional about the reward is imperative as well because we want to re-enforce these new good mindsets about food.
[24:05] Renewing our mindset about our physical bodies through contentment
Wendie ventures a guess that almost everyone has an issue with something about our bodies. Women are so hard on themselves, and we can feel uncomfortable and self-conscious even looking at ourselves in the mirror. Wendie encourages us to go back to seeing ourselves as God sees us, first and foremost. If we are always nitpicking at our bodies, it is going to be harder for us to change because we will be constantly badgering ourselves instead of being thankful.
We can thank God that we are alive and that He chose us to live this life. Positive affirmations can be helpful as well, as we focus on things that we like rather than what we don’t. While it may be unrealistic to expect us to love every part of our bodies, we can balance it out by seeing and recognizing the good. None of us are perfect, but we are made in God’s image. If we start to see ourselves through His eyes, then we start to see ourselves as more perfect.
Contentment is also part of this conversation. Often we can think that when we lose weight or when our body looks different, we will feel better. At the end of the day, it comes down to being content with what we have and what God says is enough right now. Wendie points out that contentment is great, but we also don’t want to be so content that we don’t do anything to improve ourselves. We can, however, be content in the journey and love ourselves along the way.
Wendie shares that she has been dealing with some pain because she is getting older and realizing that she can’t push herself as hard as she used to. She is working on being content with not pushing herself so hard and being wise in what her body can handle. I completely understood this, as I had a similar experience and ultimately decided I had to focus on joyful movement. Movement does not have to be strenuous to be effective, and walking is a great way to reduce inflammation, get the circulatory system moving, and clear your mind.
[34:25] Creating new mindsets to honor and love your body
Wendie suggests starting small. We may have large overarching goals, but the small steps are what will get us there. Take one bite of healthy food, and celebrate when you release half a pound in the first week. Being consistent with the little wins will get you to the big wins. Focusing just on the big picture can be overwhelming and keep us stuck, because we can get into analysis paralysis. Breaking goals down into bite-sized chunks will help us to feel like we accomplished something – and then we can reward ourselves in a healthy way.
When we start to see ourselves in a different light, we can show up feeling more God confident. We shine His light in a brighter way, and we have the energy and the desire to love our neighbors the way we are supposed to. Taking care of ourselves allows us to have more energy to do what God wants us to do. We are nourishing ourselves in order to be the vessels God wants us to be in the world.
[36:59] Wendie’s green drink recipe to detox the body
Speaking of nourishment, Wendie shares a gift with us. At liveimmune.com we can get her recipe for a green drink that will detox our body and give us more energy.
[38:52] TODAY’S LISTENER SUBMITTED QUESTION: How can I not let what I see online affect my mindset and my thoughts?
I would love to answer your question here on the podcast. Just go to Instagram and you can tag me either in a direct message or in a comment on one of the posts on my feed.
I admit that I look at Instagram and Facebook way too much, and I get sucked in. I know they affect how I feel about myself because I never seem to be as good or as pretty or as thin or as perfect as everyone else on my feed. I’ve thought about deleting my account, but I do like seeing the pictures of my friends, especially those who are far away. How can I not let what I see online affect my mindset and my thoughts?
First, I think that if you are asking this question, you are noticing a couple things happening inside of you. You are noticing that you’re getting sucked into social media, that it’s affecting how you feel about yourself, and that you enjoy parts of it. You like seeing pictures of your friends and connecting with those who are far away. There is, however, an overlying negativity of never feeling like you’re as good as what you see on the screen.
It’s awesome that you are aware of this battle, because most people don’t even notice this. We just keep scrolling. The biggest part of the journey is noticing how it affects you, acknowledging why you want to do it, and considering how it is bringing pleasure as well as how it is bringing harm. If we were talking face to face, I think I would encourage you to get alone with God and bring all of what you’re finding before Him and ask Him what He would want you to do with this.
I don’t think there is a single pat answer to this question. I can’t tell you that you need to get off social media, or to continue doing what you’re doing, or to go on a fast. These are all things that God has to direct you on. They could all be helpful, but the first step is really to notice what being on social media is giving you and how it is harming you. You need to determine, along with the Lord, what He wants you to do with what you are feeling so that you can move forward.
With these conflicts that we have, there is no one who has the magic answer because we are all in different stages of this. God is directing us in different ways. It’s not wrong to be on social media, nor is it wrong to be off social media. That has to be a God-directed decision. We do, however, need to be aware of what it’s doing inside of us and to decide with the Lord whether it is still a good option or if He no longer wants us to take part in it. I hope that encourages you, and I hope that is helpful for taking that first step to move forward.
CONNECT WITH WENDIE PETT:
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON HOW TO PROMOTE PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL WELLNESS:
- Episode 26: Life Balance: Your Physical Self: Working with Your Body and Not Against It with Ellie Thomas
- Episode 105: How to Let Go of Bitterness for a Healthier You with Clare Davy
- Episode 112: How to Find Your Beauty and Worth in God with Bethany Beal + My 13-Year-Old Daughter Susie
- Episode 123: Overcoming Body Image Issues with Rachael Gilbert
- Episode 125: How the Hustle Culture + Need to Achieve Nearly Took My Life
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