Out with the Bad, In with the Good – Simple Changes for Better Health

Simple Changes for Better HealthIn a scene from one of the old Pink Panther movies, Dreyfus has fallen in the water and Inspector Clouseau pumps excitedly on his torso, chanting, “Out with the bad air, in with the good!”

There have been days when that’s how I’ve felt with clients: like they’re gasping for breath, and I’m forcefully trying to revive them. A woman comes for advice about how to eat better, lose weight, reduce her symptoms, yet I would feel like I was shoving a spoon down her throat with each suggestion I made.

Why the resistance? Didn’t she ask for my help?

When I stepped back from these sessions, it was clear that my approach was more to blame than the actual prescriptions.

Having come from an analytically-minded family, I tended to look at the steps towards healing as having an order of operation (you know, like in math?). It’s logical (in my mind) to remove the offending foods from someone’s diet – by offending here, I mean food that likely contributes to their condition – before adding the healing ones. “Cut out the sugar…the dairy…the 3 cups of coffee” – like “no big deal!”. Logical as it is, I’d be messing with people’s ingrained habits and sense of comfort.

As a result of my “just do it” attitude, I’d be faced with the same resistance as if I’d asked the client to solve an elaborate equation. I’ve left her feeling like a stunned 8th grader, helpless & pissed off at the blackboard.

Turns out I had the order wrong.

In reality, the body doesn’t always work from logic…For that matter, neither does the mind. Fact is, the strongest motivators in life stem from the reward & punishment centres in the brain. We’ll bend over backwards for something that’ll get us a pat on the head, or to avoid feeling bad.

Meaning, we’re not going to jump willingly into anything that makes us feel like we’ve done something wrong. “It’s good for you!” isn’t motivation enough to change our desire to taste something that brings back memories of sitting at the table until our plates were clean.

Look at it another way:

Nature abhors a vacuum. Rip out the weed, and chances are you’ll get 3 weeds to replace it. You can avoid that by planting a tiger lily in its place. If, instead, you plant the lily first and let it take hold before you pull the dandelion, the pretty flower’s all set to spread.

Louise Hay has the right idea when she asks that we instigate any sort of change in our lives with affirmations, positive statements that tune our brains to the desired result. Same with the Law of Attraction: train your organism to feel the positive emotions & sensations you’ll experience once you’ve reached your goal.

This is the case with food. Gradually fill your plate with the “good” and before you know it, you’ll have displaced the “bad”. (I put those terms in quotes only because the value of a food is relative to a given situation. Like the weather, most food just is, it’s the choices we make and responses we have to it that changes its value.)

What does this look like in your life?

1. Gradual alterations, made one at a time, become new habits.

Pick one thing to change, and stick with it until it’s part of your landscape. In the brain world, it takes about 25 days to create new neural pathways (some say up to 3 months). Like untrodden wilderness, you need to conscientiously keep putting one foot in front of the other until the way is smooth.

2. “Good health” isn’t synonymous with “perfection”.

Unlike math, life isn’t linear. Allow your journey to better eating meander and alter like the flow of a stream. Even when diverted by a stone, or temporarily blocked by a stick, the water’s always headed in the same direction.

What does this look like in your kitchen?

Rather than focus on… Put your mind toward…
Eating less sugar Eating more vegetables: Get excited about how many colours, varieties and preparation methods you can fit into one day.
Cutting out dairy Snacking on nuts & seeds.Trying a bit of coconut milk or avocado in your smoothie.Fitting leafy greens into every meal – fresh herbs count!
Cutting out red (or all) meat Playing around with Meatless Monday.

These are the biggies, but really just a sampling of possible variations based on your needs & situation.

The more you say yes to wiser choices for your health, the more your body gets to know how it feels, the more you’ll start to crave the good and let go of the bad.

As at the end of that Pink Panther scene, Dreyfus quotes the famous French mantra: “Every day and in every way, I’m getting better & better.”

Read more of Cathy’s work on her blog, or learn how to start listening to your own body in her first (free) e-book, 3 Steps to Feeling Yourself.

Commit to your own Self-Love: Book a Free 30-Minute Initial Consult.

Photo credit: Masahiro Ihara


    • Cathy Cochrane

      The great thing about this mindset shift, Anne, is that it works in all areas of your life – not just diet.

  1. Susie

    Yes! Yes!

    I used to say ‘I could write the book, I just can’t follow the book’. Once I switched my mindset to ‘out with the bad thoughts and on with the good’ my ability to keep off the 50 pounds I lost.

  2. YES! I love this idea of focusing on the good, and then the bad will naturally and eventually disappear.

    This mindset has worked for me before. I used to be a sugar-aholic. Staying off sugar never worked. But when I became a green smoothie-aholic, I realized one day that I was barely eating sugar anymore. My body was no longer craving it. I was amazed! 🙂

    • Such a good feeling, isn’t it Michelle? I used to be afraid of the grocery store line because of the chocolate bars sitting there screaming my name. Now I don’t even give them a second glance.

  3. Great suggestions for alternatives to sugar, dairy and meat. I’m actually going to write them down so that I will remember. I used to be a major sugar consumer and when I learned how bad it was for the body (and the skin), I had a whole different mindset. You are right, everything we do is a journey. Thanks, Cathy!

  4. Brava! Cathy, such nuggets in this for women who have not made the switch..during my years of getting my head to follow what my body craved, I posted a quote by Tony Robbins “we will do more to avoid pain than to seek pleasure.” Great work and congrats on the guest posting. A must share.

  5. love this, cathy. you are so right. personally i’ve always been more motivated by positive encouraging words rather than ultimatums. although i don’t always remain conscious of that fact with my clients (or my kids). and i love your “tiger lily” analogy!

  6. Hi Cathy,

    This is such a good post. I find that the more fruits and veggies I eat, the less I crave the unhealthy stuff. And if I do eat something that I shouldn’t, I don’t want it anymore. And therefore, its easy to remove from my diet completely.

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