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I am fascinated by Social Media and Social Networking.  I am always amazed at the breadth of knowledge that is housed within “focus groups” and the like.  I feel like I have become a more proficient health professional as a result of all of “your” brains.  I am also a man that recognizes and appreciates patterns!  Yes patterns!

Please allow me to illustrate what I mean by “patterns”.  Just today I was browsing through my favorite Linked In groups.  I was looking at the various health topics that were being discussed.  I saw a good many topics ranging from Exercise Physiology, Sketchers nifty new “fat-burning” shoes, Health Care Reform, Corporate Fitness and many more.  The one topic that was non-existent was the mind-body connection.  Sure there was mention of certain trite phrases such “mind, body, and spirit”, or “staying mentally and physically strong”, but there was no appreciable discussion on the most important determinant of health in general…the MIND!

“But, Griff, But Griff…haven’t you heard about the sky-rocketing obesity epidemic?  Haven’t you heard about what is happening with heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance and cancer rates?  We need to educate the public as much as possible about exercise and nutrition so that we can avoid these preventable catastrophes in the future!”  I could not agree more!  You are preaching to the freaking choir!  I firmly believe that 90+ percent of ALL “dis-eases” could be “eased” if we would just get off of our fat butts, exercise, and execute good judgment with our normally shabby nutrition.

That all sounds well and good and it will work ONLY when we work to change the driving force behind our actions…and that my good friends in our minds!  There is little doubt that we human beings are driven by a certain little thing called HABIT, and habits come from…yep, you guessed it…our MINDS!  Now I do not wish to get bogged down in a discourse of where habit is formed (conscious vs. subconscious mind).  There is plenty of blog space available for those future topics.

What I do want to impress upon your mind today is your starting point.  Whether you are a fitness professional, Personal Trainer, or just somebody that is trying to become healthier, you have to ask yourself one important question: where do your efforts start?  If you are like millions of Americans around January 1st your efforts are starting with the body.  What do I mean by that?  Well, look at your focus…those of you that start with sheer will power and get your butt into the gym and start exercising are focusing on the body NOT the mind!  “So what”, you may be telling yourself….”isn’t that where it is at?”  In a word…NO!

May I propose that for true long-term health and fitness success you must follow this order?

1- Mind

 

2- Nutrition

 

3- Body

Let me illustrate with an example.  Let’s say you are an HR Director for a large company and you are looking to include a wellness program for your employees.  Excited because your budget was approved you call to the nearest health facility and secure a deal with gym memberships that will be given to your employees.  A meeting is called and all active participants are given there “grant” money for gym membership.  You offer a short speech about the importance of staying fit and the employee’s are released to go and start exercising!  “Man this is going to help the company save $ on health insurance”, you say to yourself as you give yourself a pat on the back for your due diligence in completing this “project”.

One month passes and you find that only 1/10th of your employee’s have actively used the gym passes that your company has provide them.  “What”, you say to yourself incredulously!  “How can this be?”  You cannot figure out why these employee’s who said would participate have done nothing to hold up their end of the bargain!  Infuriated you report to your superiors the dismal failure of the “wellness” program all the while hoping to place the blame on their “lack of dedication”.

As sad as it is, this scenario is true for thousands of corporations throughout the world because they failed to correct the root of the problem: THE MIND!  I want you to honestly think about this for just a moment.  Let’s say John Doe was one of the participants in the “wellness programs” that was just discussed.  John is 45 years old, and has not exercised since High School.  John is 45 pounds overweight and is a Type 2 Diabetic.  He has sat behind his company desk for the last 15 years and has been gaining weight ever since.  He views exercise as a burden for those who have time…and of course he has none of that.  John got a little bit excited when you as the HR Director came in and spoke about the proposed wellness program.  Against his better judgment he agrees to the company benefit but later never takes you up on your offer…WHY?

I think the answer is obvious by now.  John’s mind is so far removed from health and fitness that he no chance whatsoever of changing his habits.  He has been doing the same thing for 20+ years and even though he may have gotten excited about the proposed wellness program, his mind was lurking in the shadows saying, “come on John, do you really think you are going to change now after 20 years of doing nothing”.  There is no commitment with John.  John is comfortable with where he is at and the effort involved with change far exceeds the value that he will acquire by going to the gym on a daily basis.

So what can we do to change John’s mind?  As the HR Director what if you were to take the following approach to help change John’s MIND?

A meeting is called and you begin to describe a Wellness Program that first focuses on the mind, then nutrition and finally the body.  You mention that the program will take effort from each and every employee.  You tell them that the program is based on LIFESTYLE CHANGE and that the program will require accountability on all of their parts.  You commit only those that are serious to the program knowing that it will eventually spread virally throughout the company.  You make them aware that the program will change their lives if they apply ALL that is taught.

The next day an email is sent out to all of the interested employees.  John receives his email and in the email is a break down:

 

MENTAL

 

I. Quadrant One: Define and Crystallize Your Vision

II. Quadrant Two: Form a Desire and Execute Your Decision

III. Quadrant Three: Cultivating Faith in Your Ability

IV. Quadrant Four: Mixing Your Desire with an Unstoppable Mental Presence (The Sub-Conscious Mind)

V. Quadrant Five: Finding, Identifying, and Eliminating your Excuses (Habit Change)

VI. Quadrant Six: Lifestyle Change (Your Game Plan)

 

NUTRITION

 

I. Quadrant One: The Nuts and Bolts of Healthy Nutrition

II. Quadrant Two: Nutrition Myths

III. Quadrant Three: Nutrition YOUR way: The Customization Process

IV. Quadrant Four: Planning, Preparation, Execution

V. Quadrant Five: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies

 

BODY

 

I. Quadrant One: Overview of Your New You!

II. Quadrant Two: ACSM Exercise Guidelines

III. Quadrant Three: Resistance Training for Beginners

 

After skimming through the outline, John realizes that this is a comprehensive wellness program that carefully and meticulously addresses how to change his mindset and habits, eat better, and learn how to craft an exercise program based on his needs.  Now, instead of feeling “lost” and stuck in his habits, John now views this program as a possible way out of the lifestyle that seems to have him trapped.  Why?  Because the program is based on changing the engine that is driving his self-defeating habits…his mind.

After working with hundreds of clients over last decade I can personally vouch for this method.  People will only change when they are mentally ready to change.  I also firmly believe that people can be inspired to change their mind even if they did not come to that conclusion by themselves.  I can assure you that your employee’s nutrition and body will not change unless the mind has been changed.

It is funny how little credence we lend the mind for our behaviors although it is known to account for 96-98% of ALL of our actions.  We are like computers…whatever we program ourselves to be via thoughts, actions, beliefs and attitudes, is exactly what we will get as our “lifestyle program”.  It is that “lifestyle program,” that dictates our success or failure in fitness and health.  It is that “lifestyle program” that can and will change the very culture of the company that you work for.  It is that “lifestyle program” that can and must be altered if success is to be had and I am here to tell you that the program can be altered with the right Corporate Wellness program.  Thanks for reading and always remember…life is good!

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