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Mind Games For Better Health

No diet plan is going to work unless you do your bit. The longer the road, the harder it is to stay on it, so you need some incentive to persevere, a goal at the end that you can identify with. This may be getting back into clothes that are too tight; not feeling tired or breathless after only a short walk; perhaps reducing the incidence of and discomfort from sore joints and swelling in the limbs; or maybe just looking better in the mirror. These are practical targets that can be seen or felt and when, over a period of time, something positive is definitely happening, it has more meaning than graduations on the bathroom scales. Not only do we feel better in our bodies, but having to tighten the belt another notch to stop the jeans slipping down is a psychological boost worth its weight in gold. We are pleased with our effort, and at long last we are starting to feel good about ourselves. I believe this rise in self-esteem is far more important than may be realised. It is a part of the mind games that you will enjoy the most - the certainty that you are winning.

One of the greatest obstacles to a healthy lifestyle in general, and dieting in particular, is everyday life and the established routine. Anyone who regularly has a full day is going to find even a simple change hard to integrate. If any switch is regarded as a troublesome - or worse still, a pesky nuisance - a number of side-effects come into play. Whatever would normally take place at the time allocated for the change will have to be adjusted; occasionally it may be necessary to re-shuffle when and how the usual things are done. The new introduction could take longer than anticipated, causing the need for more re-organisation. Some special item not readily available may have to be acquired or purchased - more inconvenience. Add to this calorie-counting. Not only is it tedious, but it can also result in an adverse psychological reaction. Weighing this and watching that is a bit like dining out on a fixed budget - you know what you really want, but you can't afford it! All of these, and more, tend to make us think twice - is it really worth it?

Believe me, it is, but it will take some sacrifice. Your body needs exercise on a daily basis to keep the muscles in shape, the joints supple and to burn off excess fats and sugars. A 20-30 minute walk each day gives the metabolism another reminder to supply energy to perform the task; and as you and your diet have stopped with the charity donations, it has to draw on the resources at its disposal, namely the fat reserves in the storehouse. Many of those who take up diet plans expect them to do the job for them, but the change in eating habits will only prevent less fat being hoarded. Lolling in a chair with feet up in front of the TV or reading a book isn’t going to get rid of what’s already there! Find time for genuine exercise. Make it an essential like cleaning your teeth. You'll feel better for it and the diet will work in conjunction with it. Try to have just one main meal a day whenever it best suits. Other meals such as breakfast and lunch should be much lighter. If you can't get through the day without a snack or two, try unsalted, unroasted nuts (unless you have an allergy). Just a few on odd occasions will give the stomach juices something to gnaw on, but they take quite a while to digest and, as long as you don't pig out, they won't affect your diet or ruin the evening meal. Then, of course, there's fresh fruit. Even some processed snacks like rice crackers aren't too bad, although I often wonder about the preservatives and chemicals put in them.

The secret is not to stretch the stomach by loading yourself up with those 'tween-times nibbles. Fizzy drinks of any kind are really a no-no. The trouble with these is that they are mainly water (even beer) which is removed quite quickly, along with the gas. All you are left with is an empty space that requires filling almost immediately. As for the sugar content, it will stack on the weight. And don't think diet soda is an acceptable alternative - chemical sweeteners have been claimed by some to increase stress levels and affect behaviour, especially in children. Adults have enough to worry about as it is - they don't need to be bouncing off walls too! Get onto drinks like 100% fruit juice, milk, or vegetable soup. They will stem the hunger, fill the gap and, because they contain actual foodstuff, they give the stomach acids something to work on rather than continuing to gurgle away producing indigestion (maybe that should really be UN-digestion!).

As I've said before, and I'll say it again, you have to want to do this, for whatever reason. If the constant desire is in your mind, is even becoming a desperate yearning, listen to it. This is one wish that can easily be turned into a game you can play and eventually win. The bottom line is: you can make it happen; once you find the way that works for you. Please keep this in mind.

Next issue:   Slow Down, You Move Too Fast – taking things easier to reduce stress

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Where every effort has been made to be accurate and fair-minded, comments and opinions expressed on this website are based on personal experience and do not necessarily reflect the views of the wider community or those groups and institutions mentioned. A Season of Happiness and its staff accept no responsibility for any outcome based on suggestions offered. What works for us may not work for you. Please bear this in mind.

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