Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 18

As discussed in our last post, willpower is a skill, not a character trait. Remember that willpower only overcomes so much. Strong willpower gives you the ability to pursue your goals. It can help you overcome a lot of challenges and temptations. But willpower alone is not sufficient for achieving your goals. It is very challenging to try and continue to override your desires with willpower. That’s why we keep stressing the concept of desire.

We want to keep a full tank of willpower. So it’s important to nurture our energy in every way possible.

Willpower is a Limited Commodity

Willpower takes a lot of conscious energy. You must continue to apply it. It’s a limited commodity. That’s why at the end of the day people tend to give in to temptations like nicotine, alcohol, social media, and sugar. The reason is that they’re tired, and they don’t have a full tank of willpower.

We want to keep a full tank of willpower. So it’s important to nurture our energy in every way possible. The most important thing is to create a strong and automated desire to make choices consistent with our best health, the choices that help us to feel authentically good. Then we no longer have to use willpower. We’ll just simply choose what’s best for us all of the time.

Woman chopping salad on cutting board healthy choices

Future Continuity

Future continuity is your attachment to your future self. You may have made some serious investments on a regular basis into your financial portfolio. Or your professional life. Or your family relationships. You have used the idea of future continuity throughout your life. But you may never have applied it to your health.

When applied to your health, future continuity is a strong attachment to your future body and mind being very healthy, free of disease, and able to live at your full potential all the way up until the day you die.

This is an area of processing in your higher mind that has influence over the reward system. It can’t overpower the reward system, but it can give you a leg to stand on. So this week, I want you to focus on future continuity. Get strongly attached to your future self. Visualize your future healthy self. Visit your future healthy self. See what they would tell you:

  • “Consuming nutritious foods was worth it.”
  • “Getting a good night’s rest added years to my life.”
  • “Being physically active helped me live happier.”

When applied to your health, future continuity is a strong attachment to your future body and mind being very healthy, free of disease, and able to live at your full potential all the way up until the day you die. The more you cultivate the future continuity for your health, the more willpower you will have.

Consider all of the value that healthy choices brought to your future self. Build that future continuity. It’s very important for where you want to go and how you get there.

Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 17

Almost everyone has some self-control. It’s just a matter of where they’ve applied it. When the brain’s reward system is strongly activated, we lose self-control. That system is designed to override your self-control and keep you engaging in behaviors that enhance your chance of survival. Unfortunately, eating sugary cereals while watching television does not enhance your survival. It’s working against it.

We live in a time where most of the things triggering your reward system are actually harmful to you and lessen your lifespan and your health rather than improve it. We have to get this balance back by focusing on well-being. When you have well-being, willpower naturally comes more easily. So we’re going to focus on the activities that enhance focus and improve awareness and higher brain function, such as:

Willpower happens when you’re fully aware. Willpower happens when you’re able to make choices consistent with your highest desire. I want you to revisit the whole concept of desire and what you really want for yourself.

We live in a time where most of the things triggering your reward system are actually harmful to you and lessen your lifespan and your health rather than improve it.

Generally speaking, you’re choosing according to your desires. If your area of struggle involves food, then think about what’s happening when you experience the craving for food. Just pay attention to the feelings and observe them, and then begin to think about what you really want for yourself. You have to be aware in the moment to even make choices. Otherwise, it’s just too challenging.woman sitting writing in journal with awareness

So this week, we’re focusing on our awareness. We’re focusing on the experience of craving, the areas where we seem to lack willpower. But we’re also focusing on the areas where we do have willpower, the parts of our life where we’re always able to take care of things in a way that serves our best interests or the interests of our family.

Next week in the series we’ll dive even deeper into willpower, bringing you more insight into how you can apply it to your daily life.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 4

The bottom line is you eat what your brain tells you to eat. This means not what you, the deeper and greater you, actually wants for yourself. That you doesn’t decide what you eat. Your conditioned non-conscious brain tells you what to eat.

If you really wake up the deeper you and get serious about what you want, you can begin to change this. But for now, you’re eating as your non-conscious brain has trained you to eat. This started when you were an embryo and is based on genetics, hormones, and neurotransmitters that have developed as you matured.

Remember this: It’s not you, it’s your brain.

But guess what? You actually get to take charge of your brain. You can take over your brain and direct your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to be consistent with what you really want for yourself. We also emphasize this in our series on desire, willpower, and mindset. It’s very important that you have the right mindset and the right desire and that you’re very intentional about this.

Now more than ever, you must apply intentionality.

Intentionality and Eating

You or someone you know opens a bag of potato chips or cookies. Perhaps the chips are labeled something like “buffalo ranch maple bacon-flavored.” You think, “Disgusting. Who would ever want to eat something like that?” Then you taste one because your friend says, “You’ve just got to try this!”

And the next thing you know, the bag is empty. You ate the entire bag. You’re sitting there wondering, “How did I just do that? Why couldn’t I stop eating?”

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

This is true for so many different foods. I think everyone can relate to this example. I sure can. You need to understand that the non-conscious aspects of your brain took over.

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

Behind the decision-making processes of eating behavior are physiological forces in our brain and body that we’ve never even been aware of. Brain physiology involves hormones, neurotransmitters, and electricity. Your eating behavior is based on many different pathways in your brain that established when you were just developing. Your preferences were formed based on reward stimulation before you were at an age of choice.

Friends deciding what to eat.

If you choose to choose according to your desires, then you’re going to have to pay close attention to this blog series. The great news is, you will be able to choose to choose. You can get mastery over this. Leave behind all of the anxiety, shame, guilt, and powerlessness you have felt. You will be able to take charge.

Be patient with yourself and go one step at a time. Deepen your understanding. Practice visualizing your desires for your best health, and what that looks like. Experience this. I promise it’ll pay you back.  

Visit us at Health Shepherds, review our resources, and read our book Authentic Health. We look forward to you joining us on your journey to better living and authentic health.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 16

It’s important to understand that willpower is a trainable skill, not a character trait. Everybody can cultivate willpower. Some are better than others based on genetic factors or nurturing. But everyone can develop it. You just have to want to do it.

Principles of Willpower

Your willpower is housed in what I often refer to as your higher mind. It’s an area of the brain responsible for many functions. One of those is helping you make decisions best aligned with what you truly want for yourself. This area of your mind is a heavy processing center. It requires a lot of energy to work properly.

It’s important to understand that one of the fundamental principles of having a healthy mind and cultivating higher processing skills such as willpower is that you have to provide your mind with the right energy. You must introduce the right nutrients and avoid the toxins, substances, and nutritional stressors that negatively impact the function of your mind.

 

Your brain requires a lot of energy to function well, and the type of processing I’m talking about requires even more. It’s very important that you support your good energy through the right approach to nutrition by getting adequate sleep and managing stress properly. You can read our book, Authentic Health, visit www.healthshepherds.com, or browse our other blogs to better understand these overall health attributes.

It’s important to understand that one of the fundamental principles of having a healthy mind and cultivating higher processing skills such as willpower is that you have to provide your mind with the right energy.

Health is Holistic

Understanding that every aspect of health is holistic is important. If you don’t have the right nutrients, and you expose yourself to pro-inflammatory substances, you’ll struggle with your willpower. It’s all holistic in the end. That’s why every bit of this matters.

I’m stressing this point because it’s really important. We’re trying to develop your mind in such a way that it functions at its highest level, and that you are in control of it. We’re trying to give you the owner’s manual for your mind. In order for it to work well for you, you have to take care of it properly.

For this week, I want you to stop and think about your overall habits. Are they supporting good brain functions and helping you become a better thinker? Are they helping you get the kind of rest you need so you can focus on what you need to focus on? If not, ask yourself why. Ask yourself why you continue to engage in habits that are taking your health from you. Start thinking about how to improve your nutrient intake and reduce your exposure to harmful substances.

It’s very important that you support your good energy through the right approach to nutrition by getting adequate sleep and managing stress properly.

Again, for more information about that, we have plenty of resources. In our next post, we’ll discuss aspects of willpower development. 

Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 3

I want to reiterate one more time our three fundamental eating behaviors that apply to all nutritional approaches. These three pillars are necessary for any eating paradigm. If you violate these pillars, you ultimately will find that you have very little control over eating behavior and often struggle with your weight or chronic diseases.

I also want to remind you that not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy. Many people who have a heavier body-mass are applying the proper fundamental habits of health in their life. They feel good, and their health metrics look good. These individuals are not unhealthy. This is not about weight. This is about health. Good health supports a healthy weight for you. This is an individual issue based on genetics and long-term hormonal changes based on long-term environmental exposures.

In addition, I want to remind you that many people who aren’t classified as overweight are metabolically sick. They’re eating the foods that make us all sick. They may even be overeating them. However, the way their body regulates their weight via genetics and hormones keeps them at a leaner weight. But their biometrics tell the truth: they have insulin resistance, fatty livers, elevated blood pressures, and chronic inflammation. They don’t feel good. They also need to apply these three pillars.

Three Pillars:

1. Eliminate Nutritional Stressors

Throughout this series, you’ll learn why fast foods, junk foods, processed foods, foods that have been super concentrated in sugar, fat, salt, and other flavors are all causing us health issues. These foods directly trigger inflammation and disease in your body. This has been well established.

These foods only provide high levels of calories but contain minimal nutrients. These foods lack fiber and trigger your reward system in such a powerful way that you cannot stop eating them. You have no willpower when you consume these foods. These foods are the food equivalent of cigarettes. There’s no case to be made that they should be part of our diet.

Man at table eating eggs

When we eat them, we become addicted to them, and we become sick. They make us feel bad. The pleasure we feel from them is false. We have to reject them the same way a smoker has to quit smoking if they want to become well.

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

I know some think I’m dogmatic about it, but it’s just the truth. If you want to be healthy, these foods have no place in your diet.

But I also want to emphasize you can take your time getting there. Change is hard, and it takes time. Change happens according to strong desire. Just know that I’m not judging you or anyone else. This is a challenging problem and we have to be aware of what these foods are doing to us.

2. Balance Feeding and Fasting

We have many posts that explain what I mean by balancing feeding and fasting, so I’ll not go into it right now. Our bodies are designed to enter the fed state, but they are also designed to spend time in fasting states. This is a very important principle.

3. Mindfulness of Eating

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

This is a very important piece of the puzzle because once you’re exposed to the foods that trigger your reward system, you will not be able to control your behavior. That’s true for everyone, including me.

Broccollini and cheese and lemon

So you have to apply a mindful approach to nutrition. That means understanding what food is for you, being mindful about the sourcing, taking your time to eat, chewing your food thoroughly—preferably 25 times if possible—and enjoying what food is supposed to do for you.

In conclusion, eliminate nutritional stressors, balance feeding and fasting, and be mindful about eating. It really is that simple.

There is an uncomplicated and understandable truth about eating and health. We want to make it easy for you. Join us at Health Shepherds.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 15

Wellbeing is the feeling of happiness, gratitude, contentment, and satisfaction. It’s not the same as the euphoria associated with the reward system. It doesn’t have the same rush, but unlike euphoria, wellbeing is a sustainable state. The reward system that produces euphoria interconnects with the areas of the brain associated with wellbeing. However, they are not the same and these feelings arise from different areas of the brain.

Why is Wellbeing Important?

We want to focus on wellbeing because, to the extent that you have it, you will feel authentically good. To the extent that you feel good, you’ll not be as susceptible to the escape behaviors that lead to the bad habits that make us sick. We want to cultivate a sustained state of wellbeing and then allow for the experience of pleasure in appropriate portions and in healthy ways. I describe this in more detail in our upcoming video series, and in our book, Authentic Health.

How Can I Experience Wellbeing?

Certain activities promote a sense of contentment and happiness:

  • Praying
  • Being with friends and family who are positive
  • Playing sports and games
  • Being outdoors
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Dancing
  • Exercising
  • Meditating
  • Yoga
  • Getting adequate sleep

State of wellbeing with three friends outside on a fall day.

All of these take some effort but result in a feeling of satisfaction and contentment. The more fulfillment you have, the less susceptible you are to the manipulations of your reward system because wellbeing counterbalances it. Binge eating, smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse do not create wellbeing, neither do gambling, video games, or excessive television viewing. All of these things actually create stress responses and contribute to sickness and feeling bad.

To the extent that you feel good, you’ll not be as susceptible to the escape behaviors that lead to the bad habits that make us sick.

You have to understand the distinction between wellbeing and euphoria and begin to choose the activities that will give you genuine satisfaction. In our upcoming post on willpower, we’ll discuss a process where you substitute a beneficial activity that promotes wellbeing for a habit that robs you of your health. It’s very important that you apply this. It almost seems too simple, but it actually works.

Woman kayaking and experiencing sense of wellbeing

So think about your wellbeing. What leads to genuine, authentic, and sustainable contentment for you? What activities truly bring you joy? Let’s begin to invest in ourselves and participate in healthy activities as often as we can.

Health Shepherds understands the importance and difficulties related to changing habits. If you have questions about how to get started on this path, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain: Part 2

Obesity rates have been rising in our country, and other industrialized nations, for the past several decades. It’s no secret that we eat more than we used to. In spite of reduced-fat foods, fad diets, and exercise crazes, we’ve increased our daily calorie intake by more than 400 calories per day since the 1980s. But why if we have all this knowledge of our overeating tendencies and the damage it does to our health, do we continue to succumb to this behavior?

The Problem

The standard approach to this problem is to suggest it’s primarily an issue of overeating and not enough exercising. As you know from our teachings on how our body weight is managed, there are more influences on our weight than these two variables.

If it were an issue of eating too much and not being physically active, the problem could be blamed on those who’d been gaining the weight.

It could be suggested that they just lack willpower and that they need to push away from the table.

Large English breakfast with eggs, sausage, baked beans, and potatoes

 

For decades, people have been confounded by this issue, and it’s caused many to feel bad about themselves. The confusion has resulted in the same solutions: reduced calorie diets and increased physical activity.

We’ve also offered all kinds of fad interventions, such as picking one particular food group as the primary cause of our issue. It was because we ate too much fat, and now it’s because we eat too much sugar. Some would have you believe it’s because we don’t eat enough whole grains, or whatever other macronutrient has become the sensation of the year.

But why if we have all this knowledge of our overeating tendencies and the damage it does to our health, do we continue to succumb to this behavior?

Pointing fingers at the people who struggle with this problem doesn’t help.

The Inquiry

These are the questions we should be asking:

  • Why do I eat so much food?
  • When certain foods make me sick, why do I still eat them?
  • Once I start eating, why can’t I stop?

The answer to these questions actually lies in how your central nervous system regulates eating behavior. It does it primarily through non-conscious mechanisms. You’ve always had far less control over your eating behavior than you thought.

The Solution

The good news is, once you know the truth, there’s a path out of this. There is a way of eating that restores normal appetite control, healthy weight, and health. I’m going to teach you the solution in this blog series. This is a fundamental, time-tested truth. It applies to all paradigms of eating. I’m not going to teach you that you have to eliminate one primary food group from your diet or suggest you go on a significant calorie-restricted diet on a consistent basis.

Light lunch with seared salmon and lime

I’m going to teach you that centering your diet around a particular category of foods will provide you with energy and health, begin to reverse many diseases, and naturally control your eating behaviors in a satisfying manner. You will no longer have to fight with yourself over food choices. These foods give you back control of your eating behavior.

I’m not going to teach you that you have to eliminate one primary food group from your diet or suggest you go on a significant calorie-restricted diet on a consistent basis.

The challenge will be accepting that these foods are the ones that you have to eat…

More on that next in our next post.

Are you interested in learning more about healthy eating? Read our Precision Nutrition documents and follow along on this important and informative blog series!