HLS Session – Action Mantras

Words are powerful.  I’ve always believed that.  But I didn’t really know about mantras or understand their importance until probably about a year ago.

While attending the Healthy Living Summit, I had the opportunity to attend another session led by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD on action mantras (I wrote about her other awesome session here).  The session was called “Small Phrases for Healthy Challenges – The Power of ‘Action Mantras'”.

Well, what you see is what you get because the title says it all.  Healthy actions don’t happen by accident and neither do healthy thoughts.  According to Dawn, having a handful of phrases to help you overcome the things you struggle with will enable you to crush the internal dialogue (the devil vs. the angel on your shoulders).

She listed many, but here are a few of my favorites:

Nourish what counts

Use: When you have a hectic schedule.

Why: You only have time for so much so when time is scarce, spend time on the things that are most important to you.

My thoughts: I often try to do waaay too much, so I think this mantra would help remind me to nourish my relationships and my health first and foremost when things get a little crazy.

No free food

Use: To avoid all of the delicious free food that turns up at the office/dorm/insert free food location here.

Why: By using this rule of thumb, you will avoid a lot of unnecessary eating.

My thoughts: I like to think of this mantra in a completely different way. A splurge here and there is totally okay with me, especially if someone picked up cupcakes from your favorite bakery.  I like to think of this as “no food is free food”.  In other words, be mindful of what you’re eating.  Just because it doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t mean you won’t pay for it later.  You don’t have to eat everything that is free.  If you really want that afternoon office cupcake, go for it.  But maybe skip the sweet you were planning to eat after dinner.

Habit first, effort later

Use: When you’re just starting out at fitness or coming back from a long rest period.

Why:  When beginning your journey to a fitter you, start off slow.  Make it your goal to be active often to make fitness a habit.  Once working out becomes a habit, it’s the perfect time to take it up a step: challenge yourself, push your limits slowly, make bigger fitness goals. 

My thoughts: I couldn’t agree more.  It’s easy start out too fast too soon when you commit to a healthy lifestyle.  You’re excited about the change in your life.  You’re focused on meeting your goals.  If you’re anything like me, you think by pushing your limits you will get to your goals faster.  But you wouldn’t go from no running to running a half marathon the next day.  You would end up injured and possibly hating running.


Social sweets only

Use: Be picky about when you use your sweet card.    

Why: Sweets are always available and you can enjoy them in moderation if you only eat sweets in social situations.This means not keeping sweets at home and not going out by yourself to grab ice cream or other desserts.  However at a party, at a dinner, on vacation with friends, enjoy sweets.  

My thoughts: This is a rule I might use selectively, but not use all the time.  I don’t typically keep a lot of sweets in the house, but often I have a dark chocolate bar in the pantry and I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a square or two most nights.  However, there are times when my sweet intake is at maximum capacity and I need to pull back the reigns.  A mantra like this would be helpful for a period of time to decrease my sugar consumption. 

25 – 25 – 50

Use: Maintain healthy eating habits by eating 25% lean protein, 25% healthy carbs (whole grains/starchy vegetables), 25% produce (vegetables and fruit).

Why: I think we’re all aware that a diet made up of 50% fruit and vegetables is a big part of eating a healthy diet.  It’s easy to get more than enough veggies in your day, if you approach each meal aiming to have  this ratio on your plate. 

My thoughts:  Yes, yes, yes!  I’m whole heartedly in agreement with this one too.  I always feel best when my plate is filled 50% (or more) with a lot of healthy veggies.   

Social, not convenience

Use: To avoid eating out too often.  

Why: Eating out is fun and can be healthy if you’re well-informed, but frequent eating at restaurants is often hard on the waistline and the pocketbook.  You can limit your dining out by this using this mantra.  Eat out when you’re invited by friends or family, for celebrations, and visiting friends out of town.  Avoid eating out when it’s just for convenience.  You’ll be much healthier if you take a few minutes to eat a simple meal made at home, using whole foods.  

My thoughts: I am soooo guilty of eating out for convenience, especially with Brad.  There’s something about going out to eat with my husband that makes it feel like a special date night.  But, ultimately I know that I can make just as special of a dinner by cooking something using the fresh ingredients I keep on hand.  I have so many quick and easy recipes that I can always go to in a pinch, so I should utilize them instead of falling back on takeout and dining out.   

Avoid what you like, eat what you love

Use: At parties and social events, pick out the thing you love for a splurge instead of eating a bunch of things you only “kind of like”.

Why: It’s easy to over do it by munching mindlessly at parties.  If you’re selective about what you eat and really truly only eat the things you love, you’ll be less likely to eat way more than you would have liked.

My thoughts: This one is my absolute favorite! I think you could apply this to everyday life, not just parties.  I recently read in a post written by Andie that she often eats exactly what she wants and pairs it with an entire head of roasted broccoli.  What a perfect marriage of “eat what you love” and “25-25-50”! Personally, I find that when I’m craving something and I don’t fulfill those cravings, I end up being unsatisfied and eating more in the end.  If I’m craving pizza, I should eat the darn pizza, but also make sure half my plate is filled with nutritious and filling veggies.

Do any of these action mantras resonate with you? 

Do you have any healthy action mantras you use?