Hi, Mission Makeover Viewers,

Ok, before I impart this week’s dose of life-coaching wisdom, let me ask you a question. Please grab a pen.  Now quick, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind, when you read words like this: “Kale,” “spinach,” “celery,” and “cauliflower.”

Please write that down. Now focus on this. What kinds of words do you think of when you hear this list: “Hot fudge,” “cookie dough,” “apple pie,” and “lava cake.”Make a note.

Now read what you wrote. If your reaction to the first set of words was in the family of  “yuck,” “blah,” or “healthy, so necessary,” and your reaction to the second set was more like “yum,” “let me at it,” or feelings of guilt or a smile, you’re not alone and you may be sabotaging your present or future success. Here’s why:

Your words…internally and externally…the ones you speak and the ones you think…create your reality.  “So, Dr. Jessica,” you may be thinking to yourself. “What am I supposed to do…think ‘yum’ about greens and ‘yuck’ about dessert? Give me a break.” And to that, I respond, “Well, kind of…you need to shift your thoughts.” But don’t worry, oh, cynical ones, it’s not as hard as you think to train your brain to eat healthy.

In this week’s episode of Mission Makeover, you saw the other coaches and me talking to our ladies about the physical, nutritional, and mental/motivational aspects of food. Understanding why we choose what we choose to eat and prepare is a huge part of the food education necessary to impact change. And the words we all say to ourselves—messages that lead to our food choices–can truly make or break our long-term success.

That said, here are the steps you—and our contestants—need to take to make a consistent difference.

Become aware. As I suggested above, I want you to think about the words and feelings you associate with different kinds of foods. What do you say to yourself or others about health foods? Make lists of foods groups and then list your  feelings or gut reactions toward them.

Observe yourself. Notice throughout the days how often you say things internally or out loud about different food types…and notice the excuses you make to opt for less healthy options. If you’re like many of my clients (or you think the way I did for years), you may find yourself saying things like, “but I’m in a rush and this is faster,” “but it’s a special occasion,” “I know this is not the best choice, but I’ll start over next week,” or “I don’t like healthy foods.” Write those messages down as well. And be honest. It’s just for you.

Put a different spin on it. Now, I challenge you to change your self-talk and associations. How? Think about this…How do healthy foods benefit your HEALTH, your organs, your brain, you happiness, your self-esteem, your longevity, your appearance, and even your family? How do sugary, processed options hurt you? Are you aware of your present and future health when you make your food choices? If not, I want you to get into that space every day and catch yourself when you step away from it. I also want you to VISUALIZE the affects healthy versus unhealthy foods have your organs…you brain, your skin, your lungs, your heart. Visualization is another important tool that can enhance your success.

Find ways to love healthy foods. My friends, there is no shortage of healthy and truly delicious healthy foods available to everyone in our country. If you are not a particular fan of a certain green vegetable, there are not only countless ways to prepare and flavor it to your taste, but there are tons of other healthy veggies to choose from. With all of the recipes available to all of us through cooking shows, books, magazines, and the internet, you have unlimited options. “But, I don’t like that” is a child’s excuse.

Plan. I’m pretty sure the majority of us respond to the simple question, “How are you?” with the same word…”Busy.” We are. We know it. So it shouldn’t catch us by surprise when we can’t squeeze cooking a big, healthy meal somewhere between the end of our long workday and our child’s tennis lesson. The key is to prepare and be mindful. Have easy options at the ready, put the crock pot on in the morning, or even pick up something healthy from the market on the way home. Being busy is a given, but not being prepared because you are busy in an excuse for the unhealthy. Think about it.

This week, I want you to same amount of time you’ve taken to read this blog, you can make your journal entries. Get going and I’ll see you right here next week.

Until then, have a great, mindful, and healthy week,

Dr. Jessica Leon