Dan Lippmann LCSW. Practical, Sustainable Happiness

The Biggest Obstacle to Better Health

As a therapist, I want people to not only feel better, but to feel better fast. That’s why I developed the Mood Switch – to give people a quick, easy method for changing the upsetting thoughts and beliefs that create their negative feelings.

Research has shown that most upsetting feelings come from illogical thoughts about what has happened to you – from the way you think about the events rather than the events themselves.

So I designed the Mood Switch to lead people, step-by-step, in changing their illogical thoughts to more realistic ones. When people use the Mood Switch regularly, their ability to handle life’s challenge soars. They not only feel better, they start to act differently, too.

The biggest obstacle to better health

So when a physician friend shared his frustration about not being able to motivate his patients to make healthy lifestyle changes, I knew that changing his patients’ negative thoughts was the key. Here’s what my friend told me.

“Year after year I try to get the same people to eat healthier and exercise, but it hardly ever works. I see their eyes glaze over when I bring up the subject. And in some cases I might be the third or fourth primary care doc to make the recommendation to them. It gets very discouraging for me, and I’m sure it’s discouraging for them, too.”

I understood his frustration, but I also could relate to the disinterest and discouragement of his clients. Most of us have tried our share of health interventions –diets, health clubs, on-line forums, coaches and trainers. We have good intentions at the start, but rarely stick with the changes long enough to see improvement.

Reaching health and fitness goals requires action. And actions are powered by (or sabotaged by) our thoughts. I knew that the biggest obstacle people faced in reaching their health goals was sabotaging thoughts. Chris Kresser, an integrative healthcare specialist, described the problem perfectly when he wrote: The biggest obstacle to perfect health is your mind.

How the Health Switch can help

So, using the Mood Switch as a guide, I developed the Health Switch program to show people how to:

  • identify the hidden, automatic thoughts that were sabotaging their success
  • determine which “Thought Traps” or illogical thought patterns were causing them the most problems, and
  • show them how to develop “Mind Power,” a process for creating more helpful, realistic thoughts to propel them to action

Dan’s Health Switch story

To give you an idea of how the Health Switch works, I want to share how I overcame my own negative thoughts and feelings about exercise and lost 40 pounds.

Here are a few of the negative thoughts I had about exercise. See if they match any of your own!

  • I don’t have time to exercise.
  • I don’t know what to do.
  • I could get injured, since I have a lot of arthritis (which I have had since my early 30’s)
  • My pain could get worse.
  • I don’t like getting hot and sweaty.

Now, here’s is how I counteracted each of my negative thoughts with more helpful, realistic ones.

  • There are probably efficient ways to exercise that can save time.
  • I can find a personal trainer to give me some ideas about what to do.
  • I can find a trainer who has worked with people who have arthritis.
  • Pain flare-ups are usually temporary, and I can experiment until I find exercises that don’t stress my joints.
  • Being hot and sweaty is temporary and time-limited. I can stand almost anything if it’s time-limited.

Sure enough, once I had counteracted my negative thoughts, I was able to focus and take action.

I noticed a trainer at one the health clubs I visited, who was about 50 years old and walked with a limp. During our conversation, he told me that he could show me how to lift weights once a week and still gain strength.

He said that he had been a professional body builder many years ago, but had been injured in an auto accident, and that he would make sure I didn’t get hurt or make my pain worse.

As for the time factor, he said that he could show me how to lift weights in a half-hour and do a cardiovascular workout in 20 minutes twice a week. “Can you fit an hour and a half a week of exercise in your schedule?” he asked. It would have been ridiculous to say no, so we were good to go.

Needless to say, it all worked out, and I lost the weight.

The Health Switch program gives you a variety of tools to overcome your resistance to initiating and maintaining changes in diet and exercise – but it all starts with breaking free of old thought patterns that are keeping you stuck. You can learn more about the Health Switch here.

And in the meantime, try writing down your own negative thoughts about making changes in diet or exercise. Let me know if they are similar to mine.

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