Willpower Resources

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!

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 14

There’s a difference in the feeling of pleasure, or euphoria, versus the feeling of wellbeing.

When I talk about this, for the sake of this blog, I’m substantially simplifying these concepts.

For a more in-depth explanation, watch our video series and read our book, Authentic Health.

Pleasure vs. Wellbeing

You have a region in your brain known as the reward center. It’s supposed to orient our behaviors around activities that promote our survival, such as eating and reproduction. There are many different activities and substances that stimulate our reward system. When they do, we have strong feelings of motivation and energy (from a concurrent stress response). If we experience the culmination of the reward response, the result is a brief period of pleasure. It is described as a feeling of euphoria.

woman laughing feeling euphoric pleasure

This system works fine when the behaviors and substances that stimulate it are not unnaturally concentrated or experienced at a high frequency. This system directs us to behaviors that promote our survival. However, this system does not work well, nor is it adapted to, an environment in which the triggers are super-concentrated and readily available.

Because the system helps us survive, it is designed to override our higher mind, or conscious controlled behavior.

In addition, it overrides internal, non-conscious, regulatory functions that balance our behaviors.

If we experience the culmination of the reward response, the result is a brief period of pleasure. It is described as a feeling of euphoria.

When Pleasure Goes Bad

What’s an example? Binge-eating.

There are certain flavors in foods, such as sugar, fat, salt, and meaty flavors, or glutamate, that are powerful triggers of our reward system.

When we experience these flavors, our brain turns off conscious control of eating and overrides normal satiety function which causes us to binge eat. That’s because these flavors are associated with nutrients that helped us survive, but they were not always readily available to us.

Food manufacturers have taken advantage of this.

Now they make super-concentrated flavors in foods that have minimal fiber or nutrients in them. The American marketplace is manipulating your reward system and making you feel like it’s your fault that you can’t control yourself – when in actuality – it’s biology you can’t control.

This feeling is not sustainable, and it’s not real. For the moment, it feels good, but you quickly develop tolerance and soon you feel no pleasure at all. You just feel a little less bad when you binge eat, or smoke, or drink, or whatever it may be.

A giant spread of food including tacos and pizza and dip and chips provides pleasure

For the moment, it feels good, but you quickly develop tolerance and soon you feel no pleasure at all.

Awareness Rather than Blame

We blame ourselves for this, but we shouldn’t.

Yes, we’re making a choice, but we’re not really. Ultimately, we do have to make the choice to walk away altogether. If you’re susceptible to those specific triggers and you’re exposed, you will not be able to control your behavior.

Genetics play a part. Not everybody is susceptible to every one of those flavors, nor is everyone susceptible to nicotine, alcohol, or opiate addiction. But we’re all susceptible to some form of addiction, whether it be through entertainment, cell phones, video games, gambling, binge eating, drugs, alcohol, or many other things that trigger the reward system.

You have to understand what you’re dealing with.

Our reward system is meant to work in balance, over the course of time when we enjoy good food, and when we enjoy activities that promote our long-term survival. What we’re really supposed to experience afterward is a feeling of wellbeing. That’s a different area of the mind.

Woman in front of slot machines getting pleasure

I want you to think about what triggers your reward system.

What can’t you control when you’re exposed to it?

Willpower, while important, is not the primary way we control these responses. I describe this more thoroughly in the book, and in our other resources. I think this teaching is very effective and helpful.

We’re up against something we don’t understand, but that something understands us, and it’s taking advantage of the situation. It’s very important to wake up to this. In our next post, we’ll discuss how to cultivate wellbeing.


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 1

Frequently, when I’m seeing patients who have health issues that are strongly influenced by their eating behaviors, they will reflect how they just need more willpower so they can make the changes that will help them to be healthy. While it’s true that willpower is involved in any change, I think they’re misunderstanding how eating behaviors are actually regulated.

We overestimate how much conscious control we have over our eating behaviors. I want to help people to understand this issue, so I’m creating a series of blog posts. It’s that important. Because if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, then you can’t possibly make the changes you hope to.

Where Do Eating Behaviors Originate?

We tend to think that we choose our eating behaviors, that we choose according to our own preferences. However, our conscious control of eating actually has minimal influence over our eating behaviors. Our eating behaviors are largely determined by central nervous system signals involving our reward system and satiation control, as well as hormonal signaling influencing our energy balance.

Most people, when it comes to hunger and eating behavior do not know what they’re actually dealing with. These posts hope to answer that question and empower the readers to be able to take back control of their eating behavior. I find so many people addressing this area from a perspective of shame, self-doubt, and guilt. Additionally, they tend to view willpower as an issue of character, and if they can’t control their eating behaviors, then they must be deficient in their character.

Man with chips, soda, and burger

People who are dealing with chronic obesity and metabolic diseases feel very badly about themselves for how their eating behavior contributes to these diseases, but ultimately, they should not.

You can finally choose foods that nourish you, and support your good health, and give you energy.

Most of the influencers of eating behavior occurred before we were at an age of conscious choice. Therefore, our eating behaviors are based on conditioned patterns in our brain that are beyond the reach of conscious control. What we call our preferences are often eating habits that were established before we even knew how to form a preference. Our focus is for all of our preferences to become healthy.

Be Empowered to Make Changes

I hope this series will help many people who are confused by their current situation regarding eating and weight. This is meant to be encouraging, to help you feel better about yourself, and to give you the tools you need so you can finally choose according to your preferences. You can finally choose foods that nourish you, and support your good health, and give you energy. You can finally, forever, walk away from the foods that actually make you sick.

Healthy salads with mixed greens

Stick with this series and pay close attention to what we teach. There’s a lot of depth behind what I’m teaching, but I’m going to try and keep it simple. Everything I’m teaching is based on solid science and credible studies. I believe this will be enlightening for you and empowering.

Are you searching for a more integrated approach to healthcare? That’s what Health Shepherds delivers. If you have questions about a more personalized path to your wellbeing, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 12

I want to pause and emphasize a specific mindset—the mindset of gratitude. I think most people are aware of the power of gratitude. The problem is we fail to utilize that power to our own benefit. Gratitude is a very dynamic thinking and feeling state that we can learn to harness for our betterment. It increases a sense of well-being, and well-being gives us the power to overcome cravings and make choices according to our highest desires.

Thinking vs. Feeling Gratitude

Learning how to immerse yourself in the feeling of gratitude has many benefits. Being thankful cultivates positive emotions and feelings. When fully immersed in the feeling of gratitude, it’s virtually impossible to feel fearful, anxious, judgmental, angry, or any other negative emotion. Negative emotions deplete our willpower and make it harder to resist the cravings for addictive foods and substances that steal our health from us.

Now, this is the important part: There’s a difference between thinking gratitude and feeling gratitude. It’s the feeling that is persuasive, but you have to start with the thinking. You have to begin to think about what you’re grateful for.

Man sitting in a barn looking out to the dessert and meditating on gratitude.

When fully immersed in the feeling of gratitude, it’s virtually impossible to feel fearful, anxious, judgmental, angry, or any other negative emotion.

When you first start thinking about what you’re grateful for, there’s a bit of a wrestling match that takes place in your brain. Whatever pre-existing negative emotions you were experiencing will continue to impact how you feel while you begin to think about what you’re grateful for. There’ll be a period where you could go in either direction. You could sink back into judgment, anger, self-pity, or some other negative state. Or instead, you could continue to meditate on your gratitude.

The longer you immerse yourself in the thinking of gratitude, the more likely you’ll experience the feeling that comes with it. That’s a much more powerful state of being.

The Practice of Gratitude

I recommend that you begin to keep a gratitude journal where you write down everything you’re thankful for. You can do this in a few minutes a day. Write down anything you’re thankful for, from your past, what you envision in your future, or in your present moment. You should write these down in as much detail as possible, especially when dealing with past memory. You can begin to use this as an easy entry to the feeling state of gratitude. Every day, after you wake up, if you could take a few minutes and just begin to experience the feeling state of gratitude, you will start with a better mindset.

Wake Up to Gratitude

Try to start each day, after you come into conscious awareness, by beginning to contemplate and meditate on all the things that you’re thankful for. Try not to look at your cell phone, or turn on the news, or do any other distracting activities. I promise this will serve you well, and help you get control of your thoughts. Anytime you find yourself feeling bad, meditate on what you’re thankful for until you feel grateful because it’s so much nicer to feel good than to feel bad, and you do have power over this.

Negative emotions deplete our willpower and make it harder to resist the cravings for addictive foods and substances that steal our health from us.

Gratitude is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get this power over your thought life, health, and wellbeing. Don’t miss the opportunity. Practice gratitude.

If you have questions about a more personalized and integrated approach to your wellbeing, contact us. You also can like Health Shepherds on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 10

External resistance refers to the forces outside of you that create challenges to your quest for your best health. External resistance can arise from your environment, your social and family support structures, as well as the modern marketplace of goods and services that attempts to sell you products that can keep you trapped in poor health. You must recognize these factors and the roles they play in your journey to authentic health.

Your Environment

Regarding your environment, this is an obvious point. If your issue is binge eating on junk food, then you have to make sure there is no junk food in your home, your car, or in your immediate workplace. You need to minimize your exposure to whatever habits sabotage your health.

There are a lot of tips and tricks for getting this done, but you cannot continue to expose yourself to the goods or services that are taking your health from you and expect to succeed on your quest for health. You must take control of your personal environment.

You’ll Need Support

Another form of resistance comes from the people with whom you spend your time. Friends and family can mean well, but they can often be negative influencers of change. Oftentimes, people will resist your change to improve your health. It’s not that they intentionally want you to be sick, it’s just that your change threatens them in some way.

When you undertake a worthy quest, such as the quest for your best health, you should hope that friends and family would come alongside and support you.

You have to keep this impersonal. This is about you and your decisions. It’s not about them. When you undertake a worthy quest, such as the quest for your best health, you should hope that friends and family would come alongside and support you. You need to surround yourself with people who speak good things into you, who speak confidence and courage and encouragement to you. You need to surround yourself with people who will help you succeed on your quest.

Man and woman embracing.

If some of your friends and family speak negatively about what you’re trying to do, whether that’s telling you that you cannot do it, or you shouldn’t do it, then you need to minimize your exposure to these suggestions. You have to redirect conversations, or just avoid conversations with them altogether. I know this can be challenging, and you don’t have to be rude about it, but ultimately this quest is too important to allow others to dissuade you from undertaking it. It’s very important to surround yourself with those who believe in you and speak positively to you.

The Role of the Marketplace

At this time, the general marketplace of goods and services will resist the change you’re trying to make. This resistance is because the current status quo is to sell forms of entertainment, drugs and alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and foods that trigger your reward system and keep you enslaved to the habits and behaviors that are making you sick. Many people are profiting from this.

We should all use our marketplace leverage to insist on goods and services that promote our health and the health of our children and our families and our communities.

Now it’s not true across the entire marketplace. There are many companies out there who are actively promoting goods and services in an ethical way that actually promote your good health. We should support them. Yes, their products are more expensive, but it’s because they’re actually healthy for us.

In the end, the marketplace is pragmatic. It will go where consumers demand that it goes. We should all use our marketplace leverage to insist on goods and services that promote our health and the health of our children and our families and our communities.

Status Quo

I’ll get off my soapbox and get back to the main topic, external resistance. The current status quo will strongly resist your change. Seductive advertising will pop up everywhere to try and keep you in your current habits. The current marketplace wants you to keep doing what you’re doing, and keep buying what they’re selling.

This quest has opposition, but it is worthy. So be prepared. Clean up your environment. Have it be supportive for you. Associate with those who support you. Understand the current marketplace and its role in forming your habits and creating your experience of health.

Family meal with healthy food.

Change How You Engage

You may have to change some ways that you engage with the current culture like turning off the television. You may have to turn off the computers and social media. Just unplug and find some protected space so that addictive foods, various drugs, alcohol, and addictive forms of entertainment aren’t placed in your consciousness all of the time, tempting you to go back to your old habits.

Once you have set yourself free from the habits that are stealing your health, you won’t have to be as ruthless about this. Once you have your freedom, you’ll see it for what it is, and it really won’t tempt you anymore. I am speaking the truth about this. Many people believe they can never be free from the habits that are making them sick. But I have seen this freedom claimed over and over again in my clinic.

Just unplug and find some protected space so that addictive foods, various drugs, alcohol, and addictive forms of entertainment aren’t placed in your consciousness all of the time, tempting you to go back to your old habits.

As we’ve learned, resistance is an active force. You have to be aware of it, and you have to be prepared for it. Overcoming internal and external resistance is part of what makes this quest worthy. You will be able to do it provided you have a true heart’s desire and commitment to the path of authentic health.

At Health Shepherds, we understand 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.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 9

Any time a worthy quest is undertaken, you will encounter resistance. It’s important to know this from the beginning, to expect it, and prepare for it. Resistance is one of the most significant challenges to you reaching the goals of any life quest, including that for your best health.

In our video series, we have a more comprehensive breakdown of resistance. I’m giving you a couple of ideas to think about in this post. Resistance is both internal and external.

Internal Resistance

Internal resistance is a resistance that you create to whatever is necessary to reach your goals. Founded on your current beliefs about your abilities and who you are, your internal resistance is your current conditioned thinking patterns.

Your internal resistance is your primary obstacle to succeeding on your quest to your best health. You are your strongest opponent on this journey. At the same time, you’re also your strongest ally. We’re cultivating the parts of you that are an ally to this quest. 

Resistance is one of the most significant challenges to you reaching the goals of any life quest, including that for your best health.

You have to understand what you want and deeply imprint it into your subconsciousness. You have to understand why you do what you do, where it came from, and begin to create new beliefs and new habits. With daily intentionality, you can get this done. You can automate habits and get rid of your own internal resistance.

The Quest is Worth the Resistance

It’s not easy, but no worthy quest is. It is absolutely attainable for you regardless of your current state of health and what happened in your past. You must overcome your own internal resistance. You cannot do it by beating up on yourself or telling yourself you “have to” or you “ought to.” You have to do it by creating the conditions where you desperately want and desire your best health. Then nothing will keep you from it. That will give you the strength to overcome.

When you believe in your heart, with your strongest desires that you’re worth it, that this journey is worth it, you can overcome internal resistance and be your own biggest supporter.

In a later post, we discuss the basic foundations of willpower and that will also strengthen your ability to overcome internal resistance.

Guy riding bike by river

But once you recognize the ways in which you internally resist change, you can more effectively, and with intentionality, promote those beliefs about yourself that support your best health, and cut out the beliefs that resist your best health. You can do this. When you believe in your heart, with your strongest desires that you’re worth it, that this journey is worth it, you can overcome internal resistance and be your own biggest supporter.

In our next post, we cover how to prepare for and overcome external resistance to your quest for health.

Do you have questions about a personalized approach to your wellbeing?  Contact uslike us, and follow us. Want a deeper understanding? Read more in Authentic Health.

The modern American diet (MAD) consists mostly of foods that manipulate our eating behaviors and contribute to many of the chronic diseases that are plaguing our population. We have to restore our priority of eating food that truly nourishes us. If we don’t do this, we will not be able to become well.

Much like someone addicted to cigarettes must quit smoking if they want to stop the progression of smoking-related diseases, those with chronic metabolic diseases must begin to reject the foods that are controlling their behaviors and making them sick. This must be done, but we must all do it together with the right understanding of the true nature of the problem. Those afflicted should not feel bad about themselves. Guilt and blame will not help us solve this problem. And by the way, if we do not solve this problem, it will become everyone’s problem. Just go look at the CDC’s statistics on this issue if you need proof of that.

Our “convenience” foods ultimately are not helping us feel good. And the truth is, they really do not even taste that good. We have to recognize this truth and make the decision to walk away from the foods that are making us sick. It is not convenient to be sick or to feel bad.

Greasy fast food meal with no nutrition. Burger fries soda.

The Modern American Diet (MAD)

Our modern American diet, developed out of convenience, reducing costs, getting more food to more people, and primarily for the purpose of making money for the food industry, is calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. Essentially, we are overfed and undernourished.

So many of the maladies that I see, such as chronic fatigue, chronic inflammatory conditions, brain fog, anxiety, mood disturbances, and many others, are directly related to the food we eat. Our brains and our gut are intricately tied together. Many experts refer to our gut as our second brain. 90% of the serotonin in our body, which is our feel-good neurotransmitter, is actually produced and used in our gut, and only 10% in the brain.

The Truth about Convenience

The convenience of our diet is actually a great inconvenience. Poor nutrition directly impacts our productivity. The time we save not having to think about, prepare, eat, and digest real food is actually lost due to the fatigue and sickness that we deal with because of these foods.

So many times, when we begin to eat in a way that heals our gut, all of the other conditions remedy themselves. I’ve had cases of depression that resolved with an approach to eating that healed the gut. I’ve seen children diagnosed with ADD and treated with powerful stimulants who were able to resolve all of their symptoms by eating a diet that targets gut health.

Woman holding a shopping basked filled with nutrition including fruits and vegetables.

Changing Our Nutrition Mindset

I often have conversations with patients about the issue of poor nutrition and the American diet, and many times the patient reflects back, “This is what I like to eat.” I totally understand what they’re saying. They’ve been eating these foods since they were young. They have strong emotional associations with these foods. There are ways in which these foods directly trigger their reward system, and actually, foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugars do in fact increase a little serotonin in the brain while also increasing dopamine. They make you feel good for a very short window of time.

But if you back up and think about it, what they’re saying is counterintuitive. It’s admitting, “It doesn’t matter that what I’m eating is making me sick and feel terrible. It’s just what I like to do.” To sum up, what we’re really saying is, “I prefer to eat in a way that makes me sick. What I really hope is that you will be able to prescribe me a medicine that no longer makes me feel sick. Because I don’t want to eat in a way that promotes my best health.”

The typical reasons people give me that they cannot change their diet are either:

  • It takes too long to prepare nutritious food. I would suggest that if they had all their energy available to them, and they weren’t dealing with chronic diseases, they would find they have more time and that they’d enjoy food preparation.
  • Nutritious foods are too expensive. By the time you add up doctor’s visits, lost productivity, chronic sickness, and medications, I think you could make the case that everybody could afford to value nutrients over calories.
  • Healthy food tastes bad. You have to reorient your brain to feel well and be healthy.

Man holding a salad full of nutrition and vegetables like carrots and greens.

Desire Nutrition

I need to be clear that I do not judge or blame the individuals who think this way. This conditioned pattern of thinking starts early in life because engineered foods take advantage of the human reward system. However, there is only one way to be free of dysfunctional food preferences.

Ultimately, if you are determined to continue habits that are making you sick, such as eating a modern American diet, then you are determined to stay sick. No one can really help you. You have to want to be well first. It all starts with your own desire to feel good and experience your best health. Then you have to make choices that support this desire.

Please consider nutrition as one of the most important variables that will help you to be healthy. Please consider rejecting the modern American diet with its processed, food-like substances engineered to make you crave them. Consider stepping into the world of nutritious whole foods that provide your body and mind with health and life.

Interested in learning more about nutrition and authentic health? Contact us, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram. We’d love to have you join us on the journey to wellness!

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 7

The last blog in our Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health series could have been a little confusing, but I hope you begin to really examine why you do what you do. Especially when it comes to the behaviors that are taking your health from you.

I want to briefly cover the conscious and the subconscious. Technically speaking, they’re not two different systems. They’re just levels of consciousness and processing within the brain. It’s helpful in a general way to use these two terms.

Your conscious thinking is your critical mind. It analyzes things, makes decisions, and judges things. Your subconscious mind is your feeling and intuitive mind. It’s very powerful. Ultimately, your subconscious mind drives your behaviors.

What is the Job of the Subconscious?

The job of your subconscious mind is to align the reality you experience with your beliefs. What I mean by that is, if your subconscious mind believes you desire to binge eat sugar more than you desire to be healthy, then sooner or later you will give in to binge eating sugar. It’s far more complex than I’m telling you now, but for the purpose of this blog, this is true. If you want to get into the details, you can watch our video series on mindset, willpower, and desire, which teaches how this is based on neuroscience.

colorful stacked macarons

For now, you just need to understand that ultimately your subconscious mind will be determining what you do. It is more powerful than your conscious thinking mind. Your conscious thinking mind informs it, but the subconscious mind drives your behaviors. Your behaviors, what you do, are based on emotions and feelings, not just what you think.

The job of your subconscious mind is to align the reality you experience with your beliefs.

How Can I Help my Subconscious?

That’s why in the visualization exercise we covered in week 3, “How to Visualize Your Best Health in Five Minutes of Less”, I wanted you to cultivate strong, positive emotions associated with the healthiest version of you. Because the more you feel who you’re becoming, the more your subconscious will connect to and accept that that is the version of you that you want to be. It will begin to automate the habits to take you on this new path.

woman walking on a path into the woods

When you use language such as, “I have to,” or, “I ought to,” it’s already telling your subconscious mind that you don’t really want to do whatever it is. You can use strong willpower to take you a certain distance with that type of thinking. You can use strong willpower to say, “I guess I have to get my taxes done,” and you’ll get it done. But you’ll do it groaning about the fact that you have to do your taxes.

However, when it comes to behaviors such as the use of drugs and alcohol, being addicted to forms of entertainment, eating certain foods—essentially behaviors that have strong reward system elements in your mind—you really won’t be able to use the language of “have to” or “ought to” to be successful. It actually has to be your true heart’s desire.

We Must Convince the Subconscious.

As you can see, you have to genuinely want it for yourself, and your subconscious has to believe this. So we’re going to work on imprinting into our subconscious a strong emotional attachment to being our healthiest self. Until our mind believes that’s what we want more than any other thing, we will continue to give in to the habits that make us feel good in the moment. But these short-term artificially generated pleasures never last. There’s a reason for that, and we’re going to get into it in a later post.

For now, it’s important to understand that those beliefs reside in your subconscious, although you’re able to consciously provide yourself an interpretation or meaning about that belief. Your conscious mind can examine it and judge it as serving you or not. Your subconscious mind cannot do that work, so we have to use both.

When we do our journaling and we’re writing down our desires, we’re using our conscious mind. When we’re examining our beliefs and determining do they serve us or not, we’re using our conscious mind. In the end, we want to re-imprint to our subconscious mind the beliefs that will take us where we want to go.

It’s important to understand that those beliefs reside in your subconscious, although you’re able to consciously provide yourself an interpretation or meaning about that belief.

I know this is complex, but it’s so important. Recognize that feelings and emotions are stronger than just how you think about things. You have to work with your feelings and emotions, and begin to direct them to where you want to go. Shame, guilt, and blame will not help you. They’ll actually make you more susceptible to the same habits that have made you sick in the first place. You have to discard that. Whatever came before, came before.

young man thinking and feeling

You Will be Rewarded.

But you’re starting fresh, and you have a true desire to be your healthiest self. You should congratulate yourself for that. You should pat yourself on the back that you’re willing to take this hero’s journey for the quest for your best health in our time. Feel good about that.

Keep journaling. Continue understanding yourself. Work on imprinting your deep desire for your best health. We will get your subconscious to accept this new system of belief and desire. It will give you power over your choices. It takes time because we’re creating new networks of brain cells that will override the old ones that weren’t serving you. This will take time and intentionality but stick with it. You’ll never regret it.

At Health Shepherds, we understand the importance of integrated healthcare. If you have questions about a more personalized approach to your wellbeing, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 6

Your behaviors are essentially the manifestations of your subconscious thoughts. Your thought life is ultimately directed by what you believe. I’m not talking about your specific religious or political beliefs, I’m talking about how the beliefs you have about yourself impact your health.

Where Do Beliefs Come From?

“The goal is to understand our underlying belief system, strengthen the beliefs that serve us, discard those those that do not, and move to a healthier state of living.”

Your beliefs and values were formed before you even understood what thinking was.

From your birth until young childhood, your brain was in an open and receptive state. Those around you with influence helped shape your belief system, and you accepted what they taught you. This became your foundational thinking.

There are 2 things you need to take away from today’s lesson:

  • Your beliefs drive your thoughts and actions.  
  • You didn’t choose most of your beliefs; they were imprinted onto you.

“We have to begin to create the right ideas of what health is.”

An example of a belief: “I don’t have self-control.”

When someone needs to change their approach to their eating habits, I hear this belief stated as “fact.” It’ll often be stated by somebody who’s highly successful. I then point out that they absolutely do have self-control, but they’re not directing it towards optimal nutrition. They just need to apply a new belief with an understanding of eating behaviors.

Another false belief: “Because I’m overweight, I’m unhealthy.”

eye looking at reflection in glass

That could be true, but not necessarily. Many individuals are genetically heavy but still healthy! We must create the right ideas of what health is. Health may involve you being leaner, but not necessarily.

Recognize a Pattern

When you come across a belief that makes you feel bad about yourself, you need to recognize that, and you need to ask yourself:

“Where did this belief come from?”

“At what moment did this belief feel true?”

“Why am I going to continue to be controlled by a belief that I didn’t choose that makes me feel bad?”

Language is a powerful force. You need to replace the language of your beliefs. Then negative beliefs about yourself will be replaced with a belief that helps you feel good about yourself. You have to “go all in” for the new narrative you’re giving yourself.

Have You Examined Your Belief System?

“Your beliefs are basically interpretations of your experiences, a way of organizing your thoughts about your life, your identity, and your place in the universe.”

Most people have never stopped and truly examined their beliefs. They’ve just accepted whatever was imprinted into them. The important thing to understand is some of these beliefs may be very good and are serving you well, and some of them may, in fact, be sabotaging your health.

The goal is to understand our underlying belief system, strengthen the beliefs that serve us, discard those that do not, and move to a healthier state of living.

Your beliefs are basically interpretations of your experiences.

How bad do you want it message on cellphone

It’s your way of organizing your thoughts about your life, your identity, and your place in the universe. It’s really important to understand what beliefs and thoughts are creating our behaviors. For example:

  • What makes me eat the same foods day in and day out? 
  • Why do you drink what you drink?
  • How do I continue to have the same sleeping problems for the past 10 years?

These are just a few…

Understanding Your Belief System Is Important

Once you understand where these beliefs came from, the better able you are to discern why you react and respond to life’s circumstances.

From there, you’re able to change the way you react and respond in a manner that would support your best health, such as choosing to eat nutritious foods, or choosing movement, or choosing to turn off the television and do something more productive for your mind and body.

How Can I Change My Inner Life?

“We’re going to start on a fresh, clean slate. You’re going to begin to better understand these subconscious drivers of your behaviors.”

Because it affects how you engage with the external world, we’re going to focus on how you change your inner life. This also involves strengthening an area of your mind that I refer to as the higher mind. We have to fortify our higher mind for it to work for us. That’s the part of us that allows us to dream big and then go pursue those desires.

In the next post, I’ll talk about what I mean by that. I know this may seem a little abstract or confusing. The main thing is to know yourself, to recognize that everything you’re doing is in response to thoughts that are based on beliefs and that you have the ability to restructure your mind. You have the ability to think yourself into a healthier you. You have that power, and you must believe it. and put it into practice., The work is learning how to look at ourselves in a non-judgmental way. Let me repeat that.

This self-examination is in a non-judgmental manner.

You do not need to bring blame, shame, or guilt into this new life. We’re going to start on a fresh, clean slate. You’re going to begin to better understand these subconscious drivers of your behaviors.

Do you have questions about a personalized approach to your wellbeing?  Contact us, like us, and follow us. Want a deeper understanding? Read more in Authentic Health.