Have you ever considered how a child holding a beloved teddy bear can almost instantly feel safe and calm? We call these stuffed animals “lovies” in our house…I remember picking out a lovie for each of our boys when they were infants. “Lambie” was our oldest son, Cruz’s, white lamb lovie…well, not just was: is. Seven years later and lambie still comes nearly everywhere with us and is a guaranteed snuggler right up by the face at bedtime. Pillow. Lambie. Cruz’s face…every night. It’s what triggers his mind to know it’s bedtime and can even stop a stream of tears when snuggled with during the day.
Here’s the thing: Lambie doesn’t have any magical superpowers…it’s Cruz’s perception that creates the connection that lambie = “calm and safe.” And I love that! The mind is such a powerful thing.
What’s so neat about this is the reality that our minds are programmable. We likely all have associations and triggers that, when we hear, see or experience, can hinder our health and fitness pursuits:
Maybe something like…
- We associate donuts with Sunday mornings.
- We associate wine with after work.
- We associate TV with munching on popcorn.
- We associate the beach with Capt. Sundae. (raises hand…) :))
- We associate driving downtown with stopping at the Peanut Store.
None of these things are BAD; they’re just things to observe. We’ve created almost unconscious habits that we tie so closely to an action or feeling that sometimes we aren’t doing them because we actually enjoy them it’s just that “that’s what we do when we xyz.”
However, the proof that we can wire our minds to create these types of associations should give us great hope that the opposite is also true – like Cruz + Lambie, we can experience positive connections, too!
Here are a few of mine:
- Completion of a morning workout –> put folder away –> wash hands –> grab a protein smoothie pouch + a good cozy cup of coffee afterwards. Each action is embedded into my routine and is a really lovely thing to look forward to at the gym.
- After using it before a presentation one day, a few deep sniffs of Young Living Stress Away essential oil immediately calmed me. Since then, the smell triggers the same calming thoughts when anxiety rises. Olfactory senses are amazing, right?!
- In high school, before every cross country race one season, I would eat saltines and a v-8. Hahaa! Why in the world I chose this as my pre-workout fuel, I don’t know (mom?!) but it’s what I associated with running strong. It got me in the mindset I needed.
- Throwing on some mascara triggers an ‘I’m awake and ready for the day’ response. Silly as it sounds, it changes the way I feel and even act.
Call these “rituals” or simply “the Pavlov Response” – it’s the specific connections and associations we make that can create some really great outcomes. What positive triggers do you have? Maybe a pair of exercise shoes in the front seat of your car to serve as a mental nudge to get a lift in before heading home. Maybe you program yourself to tap your palm and that signals a reminder to slow down your eating. Maybe it’s a song you listen to before coming into the gym that helps get you amped up or a FitAid drink that helps tell your body ‘time to workout!’ The more you can combine a positive association with something like health and fitness, the easier and more natural (and dare we say, fun) it will be.
What neutral stimulus – or health and fitness “Lambie” – can you create to be a conditioned stimulus so that when you experience, touch, smell or see it, great things happen?
Cheering you on!
Jess + Team Valeo
There’s been a bit going on in our neck of the woods lately (hence the Wednesday-themed “Technically-Not-Tuesday / Tip”. ;))
Check out our new digs over at 109 S. River Ave between 4th and 5th street, downtown Holland. We are so thankful for all the members, family and friends who helped make moving weekend run so smoothly such that we were able to close our last session at the old gym by 10am Saturday and open up in the new gym by 5am Monday. We have tired eyes, but full hearts! We are so excited for all the great things that will happen in this space.
Stay tuned ’cause we’re brewing up our Biggest Offer yet for new members – you do not want to miss this deal!! (be sure to check your inbox in the next few days)…