8/11/09

Get Fit with Word Power

I hate to exercise. I always have. But... I love to ski, I love to swim, I love to take long walks and hikes. Just don't call it exercise! That word takes all the fun away for me. Why is that? It's because I think of exercise as work but skiing as fun. The subconscious mind moves away from pain towards pleasure, so we naturally choose to do things that are fun and avoid those that aren't. We are hard-wired that way. That's why many people who hate exercise will walk around a mall or a museum for hours. That's fine; they are still exercising! They just aren't calling it that.

If you need to exercise, but don't like the images or feelings that the word exercise conjures up, then stop using it. Use the name of the sport or activity you enjoy, such as racquetball or hula dancing. Each time you say exercise, you are undermining your will power. Each time you say hula dancing, you are reinforcing your will power. This strategy puts the hard-wiring of your subconscious mind to work for you.

This word game is also effective for making healthy food choices. Many restaurants have dressed up ordinary dishes by giving them a fancy name, and many mothers have disguised vegetables by using funny names. Studies* have shown that people are more likely to eat chicken or spinach when they're called slow-roasted free-range chicken or Popeye Power. If you don't like salad very much, then calling it rabbit food will not make it more appealing to you. On the other hand, calling it a fresh green salad or a crunchy garden salad might.

The most effective word substitution for your fitness plan is changing the word have to choose. If you have to do something, it generally isn't fun any more. If you choose to do something, then you can motivate yourself more easily. If you make a regular habit of saying choose to instead of have to, you'll find that you can overcome your resistance and feel purposeful and proactive.

Word choices are important. When you begin to use positive word choices, you will find it easier to move towards your goal and stay on the path to success. Here's to a healthier you!

* Please see the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink.

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