Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Andrew R. Warnecke, MA, LPC

I am convinced that to some extent our body is a “print out” of our mind. In my experience as a professional counselor, I have come to the strong conclusion that personal health begins with the knowledge that we make all of our choices in the mind. Instead of looking at a positive health change in terms of a new year’s resolution, how about being mindful of the choices you make in the present and how those choices will affect your long-term personal health goals? You understand enough about what’s “healthy” to make small changes now that will act as a springboard for more personal accountability and better overall health. 

Start simple. I once helped a patient lose 50 pounds over a year-and-a-half period of therapy. In her first counseling session she told me, “I can’t accept myself until I lose 50 pounds.” I explained to her that she “won’t lose 50 pounds until she accepts herself.” After she digested that idea and we came to agreement, we started setting small, achievable goals to help her establish a healthy pattern of behavior and mindfulness. She had an old treadmill she was using to store laundry on, and I challenged her to merely clean it off and get it ready for use by her next weekly appointment. She gave me a kind of chuckle and said, “I can do that.” She came back the next week with a feeling of pride. She told me that she had indeed gotten the treadmill cleaned off and ready. I then challenged her to stand on it and turn it on once every day for the next week. She agreed, and off she went. Of course she was successful again, and I could tell that the small triumphs were winning her over. We never really focused on her diet, because I knew that if she continued to remain mindful of her health, her behavior would follow. She ended up creating healthy habits, and the side effect was that she achieved her goal of losing 50 pounds.

Human beings are creatures of habit. We remain pretty much on autopilot as we navigate through our busy lives, and many of us don’t really focus on how much control we actually have over our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. I have helped countless people by showing them that they are in control of their health. Even if you regularly attend routine health visits, you are still responsible for telling the truth and asking for help in the areas where you need help. I went to my chiropractor, Catherine Franklin, with some nagging hockey injuries and told her that I have “bad knees and bad elbows,” something I continually heard from my father. She scolded me and told me to never say that again. “You don’t have bad knees or elbows. You just play hard and have tightness and inflammation after games.” She helped me with some calm-down exercises and a few supplements, and I changed the way I talked to myself about it. My body responded in kind. That was several years ago. Because I made a few small changes in my thoughts and behaviors then, I am still gladly playing hockey today.

So as you go forward into the New Year, remember that you have choices when it comes to the way you view your health. If you make the simple choice to be more mindful of the way you are thinking today, you will certainly have a healthier body in kind.