I was recently listening to Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness podcast, where he interviewed Natalie Jill. She was on to promote her new book and while they spent a lot of time on that, but they also discussed her background, her journey and her philosophy on fitness and making healthy choices.
In the interview she said something that really stuck with me. She spoke about the psychology of adding things into your life versus removing things.
I think I’ll coin this term: the mathematics of healthy living.
She spoke about how she’s always looked at making healthy changes to her life in terms of addition – adding something positive versus taking away something negative. You add a positive podcast for inspiration every day. You add more fruits and vegetables. You add more water. You add a better bedtime routine.
Makes sense, right? I believe that part of why so many “diets” fail is that they focus on taking away instead of adding. “You can’t have this,” and “You can’t have that.” And given the fact that the things you’re technically taking away are things you probably LOVE, even if they’re not good for you – cheesecake being one of mine – you are going to feel DEPRIVED. And how do you react when you feel deprived because something you like has been taken away from you? As a mom of a nine and a six year old, I can tell you: you throw a hissy fit. You resent. You rebel. You SNEAK. You end up taking more than you even wanted in the first place.
By subtracting instead of adding, you are in a sense telling your brain that it’s being punished. And only a few alternative lifestyle practitioners actually like being punished.
Lewis mentioned when he was getting his health and life on track that he did in fact challenge himself to give up certain things. Natalie Jill answered that with the idea that he was actually adding a positive into his life, a challenge that would motivate and encourage him, as opposed to subtracting.
It’s an interesting way of looking at it. I think, with a little effort, you might be able to reframe just about any healthy change as adding a positive instead of subtraction. Take, for example, the colour-coded portion containers that come with 21 Day Fix. You’re not restricting your portions, you are adding a focus on appropriate portion size. (And truth be told, you get a LOT of food on the program.) You’re also adding daily 30 minute workouts, and in the case of one of my monthly challenge groups, you’re adding peer support, accountability and motivation.
I’m still not totally sure how to reframe giving up cheesecake, but I’ll keep working on it. Any ideas?