Eat Yourself Fit: Make Your Workout Work Harder - Rosanna Davison (2016)
PART 4. MIND, BODY AND SOUL
“To keep the body in good health is a duty … otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”
The brain and gut mood connection
Did you know that the health of your digestive system may affect your mood? There is a complex network of neurons lining your gut that’s so detailed and extensive, it’s been nicknamed the ‘second brain’.
This ‘second brain’ is technically known as the enteric nervous system and consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of your digestive tract. It contains around 100 million neurons, which is even more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. This allows the complicated digestive process to be fully completed without involving the actual brain too much.
This incredible network of nerves may also have a large influence on your emotional well-being, and not just feeling butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous or excited. The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and it’s estimated that at least 90% of the body’s serotonin is actually found in the gut.
It’s important to look after your digestive health to encourage efficient digestion and a bloat-free stomach as well as a good mood. You can do this by eating plenty of high-fibre plant foods, taking probiotics regularly to populate your gut with ‘friendly’ bacteria, eating fermented foods for their probiotic qualities, avoiding foods that may irritate or inflame your gut, and consuming ‘good mood foods’ with every meal and snack.
GOOD MOOD FOOD
Certain foods encourage your body and brain to produce the neurotransmitters and hormones that can help to make you feel happy, calm and positive and encourage restful sleep. Normal and healthy levels of serotonin even assist in preventing cravings for sugary, fatty and stodgy foods, thus ensuring that you’re eating plenty of good mood foods each day can really help to keep your health and fitness on track.
These are the best types of good mood food.
If you don’t eat enough protein, your moods may suffer and you could find it difficult to feel positive, happy, optimistic and calm. Instead, feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem may creep in, along with unhealthy food cravings.
The various neurotransmitters that help you to feel cheerful are formed from the amino acids in foods, especially those richer in protein. Whether or not you eat meat, poultry, fish and eggs, I would encourage you to eat some protein foods with every meal or snack. The protein foods that contain the serotonin precursor, tryptophan, are especially important for boosting your mood. I feel the benefits from eating lentils, chickpeas, hummus, quinoa, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and adding a plant-based protein powder to smoothies and smoothie bowls. All those foods are a complete source of essential amino acids, especially tryptophan, and feature in many of my Eat Yourself Fit recipes.
Fat is incredibly important, especially for women, as it’s needed for producing and regulating your hormones. The human brain contains up to 60% fat and requires a consistent stream of healthy fats to keep it working optimally, but you need to feed it regularly with the right type of fatty foods.
Omega-3 fat is the most important type for your brain and body. It nourishes every single body cell to keep them strong and supple, it helps your complexion to stay fresh and youthful, it keeps joints lubricated and healthy, and the more of it you eat, the better your mood can become.
This is because it has been shown to quickly increase a natural and potent antidepressant brain chemical called dopamine by up to 40%, boosting alertness, focus and a good mood.
Omega-3 fats are found in chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds and flax oil, walnuts, chlorella and spirulina and in oily fish, including wild salmon, sardines and mackerel. I often supplement with a plant-based micro-algae omega-3 capsule, which I find especially useful in winter, when my skin feels drier. If you suffer with dry skin and hair, low moods or anxiety, then you may very well benefit from a good-quality omega-3 supplement.
It’s best to limit foods higher in omega-6 fats, which include margarine, vegetable oils, commercial salad dressings, mayonnaise, deep-fried foods, chips, crisps, sausages, bacon, salami, ham, pork chops, beef and certain eggs.
Some nuts are higher in omega-6 fats, including almonds, peanuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds, but as they have numerous other health benefits, I don’t suggest consciously limiting or avoiding them. Instead, try to balance them well with chia, hemp, flaxseeds and walnuts.
I generally recommend using pure oils of any type sparingly, as they are considered a processed food devoid of fibre and are high in calories. But pure, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is the best option for salads and when used in moderation. Avoid using it for cooking, though, as it’s unstable at high temperatures.
Olive oil is a better oil than other vegetable oils for dips and salads because it’s high in omega-9 fats, with little omega-6 fats, so it doesn’t go rancid as easily. Though relatively low in omega-3s, the omega-9s in olive oil support the omega-3s and encourage the antidepressant activities of serotonin in the brain.
Sat fats haven’t enjoyed the best reputation over the years, and many people wouldn’t associate them with good health and a happy mood. But unsweetened dried coconut, coconut oil and coconut milk are my favourite types of saturated fat to enjoy regularly, and they appear in plenty of my recipes too.
Coconut boasts incredible antibacterial and antifungal properties and remains stable at high temperatures, which is why its oil works so well in cooking. However, coconut oil is still best used sparingly if you’re trying to lose some body fat, as there are about 120 calories per tablespoon, which can quickly add up if you use it regularly.
VEGETABLES AND FRUIT
They’re bright, colourful, juicy and energising! Veggies and fruit are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients for protecting your cells and boosting your mood. Think of them as the essential partner to the good mood proteins and fats, which contribute the nutrients that your brain needs the most. Vegetables also boost energy without raising your blood sugar levels.
Try to start your day with a big smoothie packed with leafy greens and a little fruit, then include plenty of raw, lightly steamed or baked veggies with your lunch, evening meal and even your snacks. For so long, animal protein has been the main focus of meals - I believe it’s time to prioritise vegetables for their incredible mood benefits and protection against a wide range of modern lifestyle diseases.
Their rich content of B vitamins, the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, magnesium and potassium help to boost energy levels, support healthy blood pressure, build younger-looking skin and strengthen your immune system. Aim to eat at least seven to nine servings of colourful fruit and vegetables each day.
Fruit tends to be easy to digest for most people. Bananas are a particularly good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to produce serotonin. All fruit is rich in the antioxidants that protect the cell membranes in your brain, supporting neurotransmitter activity.
The main sugar in fruit is fructose, which is slower to convert into glucose than regular refined sugar. As it’s also rich in fibre, fruit doesn’t tend to cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels for most people. Fruit is best eaten on an empty stomach as a snack or before a meal.
Organic produce is ideal when it’s available, but make sure you rinse all fresh fruit and veg well before eating them and avoid overcooking to preserve their nutrients. Lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables work well for most people.
Starchy vegetables such as butternut squash and sweet potato, beans and legumes, and ancient grains including quinoa, buckwheat and millet are nutritious and mood-boosting foods too. The starchier veggies tend to be easy to digest and high in potassium and beta-carotene, while beans, legumes and grains are generally rich in blood sugar-stabilising protein and fibre. These will need to be rinsed well and even soaked prior to cooking from dry.
BAD MOOD FOOD
The typical Western diet tends to be heavy in nutrient-depleted and low-fibre processed foods. Many people skip meals, especially breakfast, and don’t eat enough vegetables or omega-3 fat, while others may be low in essential vitamins and minerals and eat too many foods high in empty calories.
So what does that mean for your mood? Between the nutrient-depleted foods you do eat and the good mood foods that you don’t eat, it’s the perfect recipe for a mood disaster. If you survive on caffeine, sugar, sweet or diet fizzy drinks, biscuits, cereal, chocolate or bread to pull you through your day, then you’re not only causing potential long-term damage to your body weight and metabolism, you’re also setting yourself up for low moods.
Here are the worst foods for your mood.
REFINED SUGAR AND WHITE FLOUR
This sugar-starch terrible twosome crops up in everything from pastries to biscuits, cakes, breads, crackers, packaged cereals and a wide range of baked goods, while sugar is found in a vast array of sweet and savoury food, from sweets and fizzy drinks to yogurts, breads, jams, soups, sauces and savoury condiments.
Sugar is one of the world’s most addictive substances, described by many experts as the cocaine of the culinary world. It can have a devastating effect on your health, waistline, emotions and mood. The wide availability of sugar and its addictive nature makes you especially vulnerable, and millions of people are hooked on sugar.
When paired with white flour, sugar becomes even more of a problem for your health and waistline. Just like sweets, white breads and sweetened cereals are converted into glucose, which raises blood sugar dramatically in a very short space of time. This triggers the release of insulin, which stores excess glucose as body fat, especially around a woman’s stomach, hips, thighs and upper arms, and a man’s abdominal region.
Due to the extraction process that these foods undergo, their beneficial fibre, vitamins and minerals are almost completely removed, leaving a concentrated substance so potent that it can force your brain to release its feel-good neuro-transmitters. You feel temporarily uplifted and happy when you eat the starch and sugar combo, until the positive chemicals are depleted and you crave another hit to achieve a brief boost to your mood, and the addictive cycle continues.
Millions of people around the world eat a diet based on wheat products containing gluten. Many don’t notice any issues with it, as not everybody is affected by wheat, rye and barley. But for some people, these grains can have a negative effect on their body, digestive system, energy levels and mood.
Those diagnosed with coeliac disease must avoid all gluten products, and plenty of others either feel better by omitting it or notice digestive difficulties, bloating and even inflammatory conditions arise from eating it. I try to avoid gluten as I discovered that it may trigger acne breakouts as well as stomach cramps, bloating and low energy because I struggle to digest it. Rye and barley contain less gluten than wheat, but if you’re sensitive to gluten, then they’re best avoided. Oats are a naturally gluten-free grain but may become cross-contaminated in the transport and storage process, so that’s why I recommend certified gluten-free oats. Pseudo-grains including quinoa, millet and amaranth, as well as rice and corn pasta, can be a huge help to those avoiding gluten. There are also plenty of gluten-free alternatives to bread, biscuits, muffins and cakes available in most shops and supermarkets now, and all the recipes in this book are gluten-free.
VEGETABLE OILS AND MARGARINE
This list of bad mood fats includes corn oil, soy oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, cottonseed oil and wheat germ oil. They’re the oils used in a vast amount of baked goods, packaged meals, salad dressings, sauces and mayonnaise.
My reason for listing them in this category is because of their unstable nature, as they can become rancid quickly. Much like an apple that turns brown when exposed to the air, these oils often become oxidised from heat and light, and consuming may cause damage to your body cells. By eating them, you’re exposing your body to a potentially unstable and damaging substance, and fat-rich brain tissue is especially vulnerable to the effects.
Furthermore, most of these vegetable oils are rich in omega-6 fats. While it’s an essential fat that humans require in small amounts regularly, it’s also a type of fat that can encourage inflammation in your cells and tissues. A little inflammation is perfectly normal and is an important part of your immune system’s response, but including too many omega-6 fats in your regular diet may interfere with the neuro-transmitter function in your brain cells.
Many animal protein foods, including poultry, meat and fish, are raised on omega-6 grains rather than fresh grass and algae, which are lower in omega-6 and high in omega-3. That is why I recommend you source high-quality organic grass-fed meats, wild fish and flax-fed poultry and eggs if you choose to consume animal products.
Trans fats can be damaging to your mood because they may prevent your brain from properly utilising protective omega-3 fats, allowing omega-6 fats to dominate.
Marketed as the ideal plant protein source, soy has pervaded the food industry over the past few decades. Those selling it refer to the longevity of Asian populations, who are known for eating soy products. But not all soy is made equal, and it remains a controversial topic. Limited amounts of soy sauce are used as a condiment and, similarly, small amounts of tofu in miso soup.
Some studies do show that two isoflavones found in soy, called genistein and daidzein, may be protective against many types of cancer. This is because they have properties that mimic your own oestrogen. The fibre in soy can improve your digestive health.
However, other studies show that ‘phytoestrogens’ such as these may also increase the risk for hormone-dependent cancers including breast and ovarian cancer. A 2007 report in a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society found that soy products may stimulate breast cancer cell growth in women before they hit menopause, but can protect against it in post-menopausal women.
Rather worryingly, much of the Western world’s soy has been genetically engineered, which can dramatically change the interaction of nutrients in various foods. They can have significantly fewer minerals required for your nervous system development and more compounds that may spark food allergies and sensitivities. Many people report an allergy to soy, and it’s in the top 10 most allergenic foods in America.
SOY AND YOUR THYROID
Your thyroid is the delicate butterfly gland in front of your windpipe, which controls the metabolism of every cell in your body. Soybeans contain goitrogens, which are substances that can actually block your thyroid hormones from being made. As their name suggests, this can lead to goitre, a swelling of the neck that indicates an enlarged thyroid gland. The main goitrogens in soy are their isoflavones, which research has found to depress the function of your thyroid and slow down your entire metabolism. This may lead to weight gain, dry skin and other health concerns. There is an abundance of research suggesting that soy isoflavones are toxic to thyroid tissue and oestrogen-related tissues.
So what can you do to benefit most from soy products? You can certainly enjoy it in its fermented form. This disbands the inhibitors in soy and makes it much more easy for your body to process and without the risks I’ve mentioned. Some great options include miso soup, tempeh and tamari sauce, which is similar in taste to soy sauce but is gluten free.
Low serotonin and sugar cravings
Serotonin is one of your most important brain neurotransmitters for a positive mental attitude and better-quality sleep. Up to 90% of the chemical is actually produced in your digestive tract, but low levels in your brain may lead to irritability, lowered motivation, depression, poor sleep and powerful cravings for sugary and stodgy comfort foods.
According to scientific research, the levels of serotonin in your brain may have a big influence on your eating choices. Tryptophan is the essential amino acid that produces serotonin, with the help of co-factors including vitamin B6 and zinc.
Pioneering research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that when humans are fed diets specially formulated to be deficient in tryptophan, their appetite dramatically increases, which leads to binge-eating carbs and refined sugar. The low tryptophan diet can cause low brain serotonin, which the brain interprets as a starvation state, and then powerfully stimulates appetite control hormones.
This type of stimulation makes you crave carbs over every other type of food because a high-carbohydrate meal raises insulin, which helps deliver tryptophan to the brain quickly, enabling serotonin to be formed. Therefore, low serotonin levels trigger carbohydrate cravings and may play a significant part in the progression of weight gain.
SUPPORT YOUR SEROTONIN
If you’re trying to lose a few pounds of body fat or maintain your current weight, then it’s important to look after your serotonin levels every day to help prevent cravings and food binges.
Eat a diet sufficient in protein and especially tryptophan-rich foods, such as almonds, almond milk, almond butter, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews and walnuts, which all contain over 50 milligrams of tryptophan in a quarter of a cup. Legumes such as lentils, beans and peas provide around 180 milligrams per cup.
Eat some protein with every meal and snack throughout the day to help keep blood sugar levels stable and provide tryptophan to boost serotonin. A high-quality protein powder can also be helpful in boosting protein and tryptophan levels, and I use one in plenty of my recipes.
Exercise regularly to boost your feel-good endorphins and serotonin levels and to oxygenate your body and brain. Physical activity also helps to burn body fat and encourage healthy food choices.
Avoid stimulants that many lower serotonin levels, particularly recreational drugs and excessive alcohol. The high that they provide can be followed by lowered serotonin, which may last a few days as your brain and body recover and rebalance.
Get sufficient sleep. Research consistently links insufficient sleep with low brain serotonin levels, which may trigger cravings for sugary and stodgy snacks.
Track the pattern of what triggers food cravings and have a back-up plan in place. For many people, cravings for sugary, salty and fatty foods can arise in the evening time, particularly on winter nights. Try one of the many Eat Yourself Fit sweet treats and creamy smoothies to satisfy a sweet tooth.
The normal fluctuations in a woman’s hormones each month can greatly affect your mood, and there’s a close connection between your reproductive hormones and the various neurotransmitters you need to support a good mood.
It’s estimated that three out of every four women experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) to some extent, with symptoms including irritability, depression, crying spells, increased hunger, food cravings, headache, fluid retention, bloating and breast tenderness. Generally women will experience only a few of these symptoms, which can begin up to 14 days before a woman’s period and typically go away when it starts.
Interactions between your hormones and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), plus stress and poor diet and food choices, are generally thought to trigger or worsen PMS. But there are certain steps you can take to ease the symptoms and boost your feel-good endorphins.
EAT REGULAR MEALS AND SNACKS
Eating a small meal or snack every three to four hours really helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and boost energy levels throughout the day. It also stabilises your mood and helps to keep PMS-induced irritability at bay. Stopping every few hours to focus on how you feel and to eat something if you notice a drop in energy can help to keep emotions stable.
The best type of meal or snack to lift a PMS mood contains protein, fibre and healthy fats. Some of my favourites include veggie sticks with hummus, oatcakes with guacamole and fresh apple wedges or apple crisps with almond butter (see the recipe here).
EAT MAGNESIUM-RICH FOODS
Magnesium is known as nature’s sedating nutrient for good reason, as it helps to calm a stressed-out nervous system, relax your muscles, regulate blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels, maintain nerve function and ease PMS.
Ever wonder why some women crave chocolate just before their period? Ounce for ounce, dark chocolate contains more magnesium than any other type of food. It’s an important mineral that research shows many adults may be deficient in. Everybody benefits from a magnesium-rich diet, but magnesium levels may fluctuate throughout a woman’s cycle, with higher levels of oestrogen or progesterone leading to lowered magnesium levels. A magnesium-rich diet can help relieve PMS-related symptoms, such as headaches, bloating, low blood sugar, dizziness, fluid retention and sugar cravings.
Chocolate in its raw and unprocessed form helps the most. The raw cacao powder that I use to create many of my desserts and sweet treats is loaded with essential minerals, including calcium, sulphur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium and manganese. It’s also full of antioxidant flavonoids to protect your cells from damage, a range of the B vitamins, protein and fibre.
Apart from chocolate, good food sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables, almonds, cashews, avocado, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and buckwheat.
INDULGE IN CHOCOLATE
Another key reason why women may crave chocolate at a certain time of the month is because levels of serotonin may decrease along with oestrogen and progesterone to trigger the start of your period. Without sufficient serotonin, you may crave sugary foods or stodgy carbs to quickly and naturally boost levels back up again.
Commercial chocolate generally isn’t a great option because it tends to be full of refined sugar, so I designed my SOS chocolate bark here to come to the rescue when only chocolate will do. It’s naturally sweetened to help boost serotonin without the subsequent energy crash that can happen with regular refined sugar.
EAT FOODS RICH IN B VITAMINS
B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), B3, B5, B6 and folic acid, are found in a large range of foods, including veggies, oats, quinoa, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans.
They’re essential for many biochemical reactions in your body, including energy production. As a water-soluble vitamin, you must eat enough in your food each day, and real food is generally a better idea than relying on supplements.
Vitamins B1 and B2 can be important for easing PMS. According to a US study published in the online edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women with higher intakes of them in their diet had far fewer PMS symptoms.
PRIORITISE OMEGA-3 FATS
Increasing your dietary intake of omega-3 fats can be effective in reducing PMS symptoms. According to the peer-reviewed journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, omega-3 fats can help to lessen feelings of depression, nervousness, anxiety and lack of concentration. They may also reduce bloating, headache and breast tenderness due to their powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Many people eating the typical Western diet consume too many omega-6 and omega-9 fats from vegetable oils, fried foods and animal protein foods, but not enough omega-3 fats. This may impact PMS, so rebalancing the fatty acids in your system is thought to offer relief.
As one of the most important physiological functions, sleep is of the highest value to your health, fitness and emotional well-being. Adults need at least seven to eight hours of snooze time per night, but many people fall short of that for a variety of reasons. Various chemicals and compounds found in foods and drinks can also have a powerful effect on your sleeping patterns.
You need sleep to help regulate your appetite hormones, with studies showing that not getting sufficient shut-eye may increase your daily calorie intake by up to 20%. This could cause weight gain in the long term.
NUTRIENTS FOR SLEEP
The right balance of nutrients is needed by your body to keep it working optimally throughout the night, as it heals the day’s cellular damage and resets your system.
Foods naturally rich in calcium and magnesium are good for encouraging sleep, as they help to relax your muscles. Try eating foods rich in both nutrients with your evening meal. Good sources include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, almonds, chickpeas, dried figs, cashews, sesame seeds, tahini, quinoa and kidney beans.
If you have trouble getting a decent night’s sleep, aim to avoid biscuits, chocolate, sweets and other refined sugar foods close to bedtime. They can raise your blood sugar levels, then the insulin response can cause a sudden dip in blood glucose. Your body responds by sending out a wave of adrenaline, which may wake you up with a sudden jolt in the middle of the night.
MELATONIN, YOUR SLEEP HORMONE
Do you ever feel increasingly sleepy earlier in the evenings as winter approaches? Your levels of the sleep hormone, melatonin, rise steadily as darkness falls each night.
Produced by the pineal gland in your brain, melatonin is made in particularly large quantities when you are young. As well as regulating your snooze patterns, melatonin is an extremely powerful antioxidant and even more effective than the A, C and E vitamins for neutralising the free radicals that can damage and age your cells prematurely. It’s also been shown to support your immune system.
When you wake up in the morning and it’s already daylight, the light hitting your retina triggers neurological signals that cause melatonin production to halt. That’s why it can be difficult to get out of bed when the alarm clock goes off on dark mornings!
Darkness and light are two key triggers for melatonin production, but various dietary and lifestyle factors can help to regulate your melatonin to ensure you get deep, good-quality sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Eating meals and snacks at regular intervals and not going too many hours without food will help to regulate your body’s routine and its melatonin levels. Eating heavy meals too late in the evening may interrupt your internal chemistry and affect sleep.
Get used to going to bed at a similar time each night and waking up at the same time each morning, and avoid napping during the day if you can. This will aid in regulating your circadian rhythm and cortisol production, which should be at its peak first thing in the morning to help kick start your day.
If you have trouble settling down or sleeping, then it can really help to limit tea, coffee, excess chocolate, nicotine, caffeinated soft drinks and energy drinks, as caffeine remains in your system for up to 24 hours and keeps you feeling alert. Chamomile tea has a subtle sedative effect and is a natural relaxant before bed.
AVOID TYRAMINE FOODS
Foods containing the amino acid tyramine, including bacon, ham, sausage, chocolate, sugar, cheese and wine, are also best avoided close to bedtime as they have been shown to stimulate norepinephrine in your brain, which can act as a stimulant and keep you awake.
EXERCISE EARLIER IN THE DAY
Intense exercise too close to bedtime may actually delay melatonin production, energise you and keep you from getting to sleep. A good workout is a brilliant way to ensure you get a good night’s sleep, but it’s best done earlier in the day if possible. This means that you will feel full of energy for the day and encourage a natural balance of melatonin in your system.
The amino acid tryptophan is needed along with vitamins B6, B12, folic acid and zinc to build serotonin and melatonin. A diet lacking any of these nutrients, or one that’s low in overall protein, may cause you sleep problems.
Eating a tryptophan-rich snack one or two hours before bedtime can really help to produce melatonin for peaceful sleep. Good options include a handful of raw nuts and blueberries, chopped apple with a teaspoon of hazelnut butter, sliced banana with a sprinkle of pumpkin and sunflower seeds or a cup of warm unsweetened almond milk with a pinch of cinnamon.
A positive mental attitude
Your body and brain are deeply interlinked. Harmony must be promoted throughout both, because a positive mental attitude as you grow and develop through life is very much at the foundation of vitality. When you’re feeling positive, strong, happy and resilient, you glow with health and contentment.
Of course, you can go through life eating and drinking what you please and avoiding exercise, but this may eventually start to break down your health and resilience to disease. Taking the time to look after the body that works so hard to keep you alive and well every single day hugely improves your quality of life, energy levels, long-term wellness, self-confidence and the love and time that you can give to your friends and family.
Just like your physical fitness, a positive mental attitude takes ongoing work and attention to stay healthy. Working hard to remain full of positivity and optimism throughout your life is so important and there is an ever-increasing body of scientific evidence that your regular thoughts, emotions and self-image very much contribute to your health and quality of life.
You can’t control much of what life throws at you and all of us will face our own challenges, but what you can control is how you respond to these challenges and your ongoing attitude. It’s how you respond to the many difficulties that you face that moulds your character and quality of life.
The failures, losses, broken hearts, hardships and sadness most of us will face frequently end up nourishing your happiness, achievements and empathy for others. Adopting a positive attitude will ensure that you’re happier, healthier and more successful in all areas of life. Don’t forget that like attracts like. Make yourself a magnet for happiness, joy, good health and success. I find that meditation, deep breathing and remembering to be grateful for all that makes you happy in life can really help to encourage a calm, positive mindset.
Setting positive goals is absolutely essential for creating an optimistic attitude and building your self-confidence. You must word your statement of intent to achieve these goals in positive language, and it can also be applied to getting healthy and fit: ‘I love to eat healthy fruit and vegetables and exercise every day’ is a much more positive statement than telling yourself ‘I must not eat sugar, junk food or bread and I am not allowed to skip the gym’. Of course you’re going to rebel against that. I know I would!