Mindset – Dr. Alan Christianson:
Hi there. Dr. Alan Christianson here and I am really excited to take a minute to talk to you about mindset. I think it is the first thing to really dial in for any new endeavor. You know my focus has been really to improve and maximize the health of others so I use that context but really anything your doing. If you are trying to improve relationships, your financial state. Your occupational status. Whatever it is the same thing is critical. Having the mindset. Of the mindset there is a couple of elements that make the biggest difference. There really just habits, beliefs, ideas. They are things that we can adapt. Our ideas are no more fixed or stuck then any of the rest of us is. We can change and adapt more readily then we think. We see this in neuroscience, we see this in biology and all areas of science show it to be true.
You know the first step is really critical and really germane to the discussion about change and that is having a sense of possibility. What do you see about your future? Do you imagine that it will be just like things are now or perhaps worse in terms of your health. We often do and there are so many cultural ques that teach us this. We see a model of those who really have their health decline due to age or chronic disease and there is often a sense of inevitability or lack of control over some of these outcomes. That sense can become so common and so stifling and limiting and its not really based on what has to happen but it is based on what has commonly happened. You know so many people try as they might, their lives are really a function of habits that are not serving them and those same habits are drawn out over decades and decades and amplified. The amplification of all those habits we think that is the aging process and it really is not.
There was a study that I read about looking at how there is some inevitable change in physical performance among top athletes and the question they were trying to ask was: How much is the loss of our capacity due to stuff we can not control? How much of it is just aging that we can not get away from? So to help answer this they looked at how performance changed in top athletes at various ages. Age 18 – 80 and some of the questions they tried to answer were: So when did top performance emerge? When did performance start to decline? When did performance go down? As a parallel you know we can also go back to where it was at the 18 year old level on the way down to the 80 year old level.
This study looked at runners. It is easy to track how fast somebody runs so it is a great thing for science and studies. You know how fast did they cover a mile. They looked at world class runners. So the assumption with this group is that they were probably at or close to the limits of what was possible in terms of performance. They did not have a lot of room to improve diet or lifestyle. They were doing what they could and were world class athletes. Sure we will see progression over time and performances improve but typically by smaller and smaller margins. The idea was that this was a group of people that are pretty much at the physical limits or close to it and how did their performance differ over the course of years. So 18 years was the entry point and performance peaked at about age 27 and of course then after the peak the effect is that performance declines and it went down and became worse over the following years. The fascinating question I saw from this study after looking deep into the numbers was at what age did 27 year old performance drop off and then hit the same level as that 18 year old level of performance? When do we slow back down to 18 which is not too bad of a place to be in. Again it is not always physical speed but this is a good metaphor about overall health.
The parallel with 18 is that so your a world class runner and after 27 your are going to be faster then a world class 18 year old up until 64 years of age. Totally blew me away and left me so encouraged. Even then so you look at the 64 and then onto 80 in these athletes. There are these 80 year old runners that are doing super human feats. They are covering five and half minute miles. Doing things that you know almost no person at any age can do. Very rare for the population regardless of age. So what that speaks to is just this huge amount of potential that is before us. We all have it. So whatever it is that is important to us. You know how we look. How we move. How we feel. How we perform. You know because so few of us are world class the cool thing about that is that age is not the ceiling. Our training. Our efforts. Our capacities. Those things may limit us but that’s cool because that is stuff we can do something about. These are all things we can shift and change. The limits are so far away.
The other cool idea about possibilities is that our body is changing everyday. New stuff is coming in and old stuff is going away. It just happens. Whether we try or not. So at the tiny shift of what is coming in and what is going out we get a whole new body every year. We are starting over again totally from scratch. So the mindset of possibility is not some unrealistic, naive state. Its just the hard facts mamm. Its just what happens. Things are changing and with the tiniest amount of effort and strategy and persistence change can be a wonderful transformation.
Another part of the mindset I would say would be partnership. This is a cool thing. You know humans are among some of the most social animals. If someone has been incarcerated and in prison for some horrible crimes. Of course a certain number of prisoners do not follow the rules in prison. So how do you punish someone who is already being punished. You make them sit by themselves. We call this solitary confinement and there are laws about how long this can go on for and how much contact is needed because people really understand that the most cruel or painful thing that you can do to someone is to keep them away from all others. We need connection. Our health is really a function of our collaborations and who we are partnering with.
So partnering you can think about it on three levels. You can think about it like above, below and next to. So above would be like partnering with those who are farther along the path then you are. You never change as you want and there are those that have done what you want and have documented it. They teach. You can buy there books. You can get programs now a days. You can get direct aid as well. People can give you consult and give you direct advice to your personal requirements. So there is so much opportunity and availability by partnering.
The biggest change in my health came from partnering with expert authors. You know as a kid when I was just devastated by the consequences of epilepsy and being an obese kid and being humiliated from that. It was books that turned that around. We had no resources but I would go to the library and get arm loads of books and I partnered with these people. These people that were health experts and I worked with many of them. I read their books and I lived it and I made sense of it and I incorporated it. We have no limits in how we can partner with experts around us. There is so much availability for that now a days. So that is like the above. Like working with mentors.
The parallel is that there is also others that want to achieve the same goals that you do and that probably have the similar understandings that you have. We can connect with them directly. They may even be in your family. They may be a spouse or a child or a direct relative and there is also many available in the community or online networks. So the more we can partner and collaborate with the more we are going to be successful.
The last part of partnership would be you know we have already talked about mentors so that would be mentoring. Once you are even a few steps down a path you are further down that path then those who have not started. You may not know the whole path but you know enough to get them going in the right direction. You have already gained huge amounts of knowledge that can be shared. I have so many people that I spend time with, patients that are amazingly learned they put so much time and effort into their studies about health and what are the newest findings and how does the body work. It blows me away that they have a knowledge base greater then probably many in even the medical profession. I encourage them so much to share that and put that out. Even for those that are new and getting into it there is always someone to reach out to and get that first step or helping hand. Its helpful for them but it is amazingly cementing for you in your habits. It makes them so much more ingrained and so much more natural when you extend your knowledge and share it with others. It has a huge effect.
Other key parts of the mindset. I would say having a sense of playfulness. If it ain’t fun you ain’t going to do it. If your project of transformation or your methods of transformation involve things you really do not like you are only fighting yourself. All your going to do is raise your stress level and you will be off track in no time. Do not even bother with that. Find some ways to make it easy and fun. Everyone has some activities that they have enjoyed before. Some physical activities. There is always some easy tweak in the diet that would not be so difficult. So think about ways in which you can be playful.
A pitfall or those that go in the other direction are those that are really gung ho and they over do it and get really set back. I have been in both camps. There have certainly been times where I trained to excessively and had injuries and really lost my motivation and interest and lost a lot of ground. So be aware of both ways and keep it playful and leave a little bit in the bank along those same lines. Whatever you think you can do, do it and have fun but leave a little bit in the bank. Do not do a 100% or 110% do 90% and know that 10% can grow into what you will do tomorrow. So make it fun and enjoy it but do not push it too far over the edge. Its the classic case of the tortoise and the rabbit. Persistence and steadiness is always going to gain against the over ambitiousness and false starts. So be playful and let yourself have that pace and momentum.
The last step is having a sense of patience. With patience it is smart to really think about what your process is. What is it that you are doing. How do you want to get to here. Well how are you getting there? Are you driving a car? Are you walking? What is your means of achieving a change. Then looking at your methods and rewarding yourself for your persistence with your methods. How regular are you engaging in that? How consistent are you? How focused is your mindset? How well are you staying on track? That is what you should reward yourself for. Do not let the rewards be tied to the outcome. Let the rewards be about the process and know that your process will get to the outcome and then some. Not only will you achieve your goals but the body is such a metaphor.
You know that we have this physical presence in this physical world. What happens with it is that we can manifest with it. I think it is like the most core step in our potential. If we can change it and transform it and move it from a state of disease and bad health to a state of better harmony and better balance. That capability and confidence that just shines through and that allows you to not only achieve what you want to achieve but it makes you want to achieve things that are worth achieving. It not only shifts your potential but also your direction. You really come from a place of wanting to have more abundance and more goodness for others when you see that things can improve your health. So take a little bit of time to think about the mindset.
Get your possibility out there and know that things can shift. Think about your partnering and who do you mentor from and who do you collaborate with and who are you mentoring. Make sure its playful. Be patient about the outcomes. Really reward yourself about your steps in the process. Let it be a joyous journey along the way. Thank you so much and we will talk very soon.
Good Health, Dr. Alan Christianson