Mindset Shifts Health and Fitness

5 Mindset Shifts to Make Healthy Habits your Natural Choice

Dr. Kimberley O'BrienBlog, Health, Lifestyle, Mind Body 1 Comment

People often look at “healthy living” as a series of sacrifices they need to make in their life instead of identifying what lights them up about feeling good each and every day!  

Although we can work together to develop a PERFECT plan to transform your health and boost your energy, it won’t be sustainable if we don’t also ensure that your mindset is primed to prioritize your health.  For example, if when starting a new diet you are constantly focused on what you’re giving up instead of what you are gaining through the process, you will likely abandon that plan and return to your old habits rather quickly.

The good news is that by making a few simple mindset shifts, healthy choices will start to become your natural inclination as you navigate your day-to-day routine!  

Mindset shifts for healthy living

Five Mindset Shifts to Make Healthy Habits your Natural Choice

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Today I’m sharing five healthy mindset shifts that I help my patients to incorporate as part of their overall health plan, which are also practices that I continue to work on daily myself.   I hope these positive mindset shifts will help you to make healthy habits a natural choice in your own life too!

1. Tune in daily to a bigger vision and identify your WHY

If you’re not clear on WHY you’re trying to be healthy, it’s easy to make decisions that provide an immediate reward instead of long-term gains for your health and energy.

When we talk about why you want to be healthier, it’s important that we go beyond the superficial reasons that may first come to mind.  For example, you may currently view prioritizing your health as something you need to do in hopes of avoiding diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  You might find yourself doing just enough to try and avoid these negative outcomes without feeling motivated by a more compelling vision of health that truly draws you forward and inspires you.  

When you approach your health like this there is more of a focus on what you DON’T want to experience than how you truly want to feel.  Minimizing the likelihood of developing a disease is not a very enlightening reason to get up at 6am every morning to hit the gym!  It’s also not going to compel you to choose carrots and hummus instead of a bag of chips as today’s afternoon snack.

Instead, it’s so important the you identify the POSITIVE outcomes that you will get to enjoy by prioritizing your health.  For example:

  • By gaining more energy you’ll be able to spend more quality time with your partner or kids. Having more energy and vitality also enables you to get out and explore nature, to be more effective with your time and to get fit!
  • By experiencing more mental clarity and focus you’ll be in a better position for a promotion at work, you’ll have an edge on your sales calls and you’ll be better able to rock your next public speaking engagement!
Mindset shifts for healthy living

2. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want

From an evolutionary standpoint our minds are wired to watch out for potential trouble.  Back in the paleolithic or “caveman” era, our survival was a lot more dependent on remembering which berries were poisonous versus which ones were the juiciest!  While our lifestyle, nutrition and day-to-day routines have dramatically changed since that time, our brains are still wired in the same fashion.  This means that it can be much easier to let your thoughts drift into a negative space than to focus on the positive! 

If you find yourself worrying about gaining weight, not sleeping through the night or being too tired and foggy to deliver your presentation effectively at work, you are focused on negative outcomes.  The good news is that you can train your mind to focus more on what you desire, instead of the outcome that you are trying to avoid.  It takes time to reprogram your mind, but it starts by paying attention to the types of thoughts you’re thinking, questioning them, and replacing them with thoughts that are focused instead on positive outcomes.  

For example, if your goal is weight loss you’ll want to start visualizing yourself releasing the extra weight that you’ve been carrying.  When you look in the mirror, focus on the muscle definition and curves that starts to appear as you begin a workout regime, instead of focusing negatively on the weight that you still have left to lose.  

These simple mindset shifts will not only keep you feeling more upbeat and positive, they also feed into the law of attraction.  By focusing on what you want to create and experience, instead of what you want to fix or avoid, you are elevating your mindset and energy in a way that magnetizes these results to you.  This helps you to create momentum towards the health, energy and other positive outcomes that you desire!

Positive Focus

3. Play the long game

So many of the choices we make are based on short term rewards.  You may find yourself picking up take-out on the way home because it’s an easy option that saves you time.  Or maybe you’re craving sweets so you have a doughnut for breakfast instead of choosing eggs or oatmeal.  While these may seem like rewarding choices in the moment, how often are you making food choices based on how you will you feel right AFTER eating, never mind the following day?

As I’ve gained more awareness as to how various foods affect my body by identifying my food sensitivities, I’ve naturally started to pay WAY more attention to how I’ll feel after eating instead of only considering the immediate rewards of each meal.  This practice becomes especially easy the better I feel, since when I’m feeling healthy and energetic I don’t want to compromise these good feelings just to satisfy a short-term craving. 

Does this mean that I never eat foods like pizza, pasta or ice cream?  Of course not! However, what I’ve discovered is that there are so many other delicious foods that TASTE AMAZING and leave me FEELING AMAZING as well.  This is a win-win, and it’s what I strive to stick to 90% of the time in my diet. The other 10% is the wiggle room that allows me to indulge without any feelings of restrictions.  And when I do indulge, I enjoy each and every bite! No guilt, shame or regret involved.

It’s incredibly helpful to get clear on which foods are fueling versus fooling your body in order to personalize your diet, and I encourage you to start tuning in to how each meal is making you feel AFTER eating it.  Focusing on the longer-term effects of your health and nutrition choices is one of the most important mindset shifts that you can make to boost your health and energy!


4. Curb your cravings and gain insight on your impulses by taking a moment to PAUSE

As humans, we are creatures of habit!  Everything from your relationship with food, the way you react to stress and your emotions are influenced by subconscious patterns and beliefs.  In order to build healthy new habits, we need to build in a “pause” between the triggers or events in your life and your usual reaction to that stimulus.  This allows time for you to bring conscious awareness to your behaviours and to override your previously conditioned response.

One of the best ways to practice “pausing” is in response to your food cravings. I know firsthand how intense a craving can feel in the moment, but I’ve also realized that if I take a moment to pause before indulging that craving will soon pass.  Our cravings arise more often out of habit, boredom or as an attempt try and fill an emotional need than they do from an actual physical need for that food or substance.

The next time you feel a craving coming on, catch yourself before you hit the coffee shop to buy a piece of cheesecake or that triple chocolate brownie.  Take a few deep breaths, drink a glass of water, chat with a co-worker and see if the craving passes.  Ask yourself a few questions to identify what’s at the root of the craving itself.  For example:

Are you hungry?  If so, what snacks are available that will better fuel your body?  

Are you bored?  If so, what else can you do with your time right now?  Try getting out for a walk, calling a friend, making a delicious tea or reading a book!

How is your mood? If you’re feeling low or in a funk, dig deeper into WHY and identify if there’s another way that you can boost your mood.

Taking a moment to pause and breathe will help you to gain conscious awareness of what’s driving your cravings and to replace these choices with healthier habits!

Food fuels or fools

5. Surround yourself with people who motivate and inspire you.

In the words of Jim Rohn, you are an average of the five people that you spend the most time with.  If you surround yourself with people who are prioritizing their health and happiness by eating healthy and exercising, you will be motivated and inspired to do the same.  Conversely, if your circle of friends is regularly dining out at fast food restaurants, smoking cigarettes and scoffing at the idea of visiting the gym, you’re much more likely to find yourself behaving in a similar pattern.

As humans we are social creatures, and one of our most instinctual desires is to be loved and accepted.  This is why we are inclined to behave similarly to those who surround us!

I encourage you to do an inventory right now of the five people with whom you spend most of your time with by asking yourself the following questions: 

Do you consider them to be happy and positive people?  

Do they prioritize their health and wellness?  

Do you want to be more like these people in their actions, how they treat others and what they achieve?

Are they supportive and uplifting for you as you strive for your goals?

If the answers to these questions are positive, that’s fabulous!  If not, it doesn’t mean that you can no longer associate with these people but I do suggest that you broaden your circle to include at least one or two people who uplift, motivate and inspire you.  These people can be friends or family, but they can also come in the form of a coach or mentor!

I surround myself with other motivated people by working out at a local Crossfit gym with others who also prioritize their health and fitness, by attending inspiring personal development events and by reaching out to network with other female business owners and entrepreneurs.  I also love gaining inspiration from inspiring people outside of my social circle by listening to their podcasts and reading personal development books. I do my best to read or tune into a podcast daily to stay inspired and motivated! I hope that some of these ideas will help you to do the same!

Surround yourself with inspiring people

I encourage you to start consciously incorporating these mindset shifts into your day-to-day routine, starting today!  Is there one of these five practices that calls to you more than the others? If so, start there and then aim to build in the other practices one by one.  I also encourage you to pin this post for future reference, as positive mindset shifts are a daily work in progress (just like your ongoing efforts with fitness and healthy nutrition!).

I’d love to hear from you!  What are your biggest challenges when it comes to starting or sticking with a health regime?  What are your tried-and-true ways to maintain a positive mindset? Please leave your comments below!

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Elimination Diet Meal Plan

About the Author

Dr. Kimberley O'Brien


Dr. Kimberley O'Brien is a Naturopathic Doctor in  Nelson, BC with expertise in the treatment of digestive disorders, fatigue and hormone imbalances.  She is the founder of Healthy Life Redesign and creator of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan and the Real Food Recharge online programs.  Her mission is to help you own your health and live a life you love!

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