Written by: Coach Jess
When was the last time you noticed how you were feeling–physically and emotionally–before eating? Have you ever noticed how you feel when you see yourself naked after stepping out of the shower? Do you take time to notice how you feel–mentally, emotionally and physically–before heading to work for the day? Be honest here–have you noticed??
Noticing is very similar to mindfulness, awareness and consciousness. But it is different, in that “to notice” is a verb–something we can do, an action we can take (even if we aren’t yet mindful, aware or conscious). Mindfulness, awareness and consciousness are all nouns; they are states of being and sometimes we don’t know how to get to those states. Noticing is how we get there.
What’s the value of noticing, you ask? Noticing your emotional, physical and mental state before, during and after any activity will help you connect thought patterns and habits to outcomes–both good and bad. Let me explain:
- Are you well-fueled for a workout? As you drive to the gym, take a moment and let go of what happened an hour ago at work, and take inventory of your body. Does it feel like you have enough gas in the tank for a workout? During your workout, is your energy level steady, or do you feel depleted? After your workout, do you feel energized or drained? How do you like to feel, or how would you like to feel? What can you do to achieve that? Oh, yeah, you say–I am going to take an afternoon snack to work, so I feel good when I get to the gym.
- Before your next dinner, take inventory of how you feel. Calm? Anxious? Stressed? Peaceful? Next, observe how you eat with that feeling. An hour after dinner, take notice again. Here’s my story: I used to hype up Thanksgiving dinner as if it were a euphoric experience. I would build up loads of anticipation and excitement, and I would gorge myself. I thought I enjoyed it–until about 30 minutes after dinner, when I became miserable from being stuffed. Then I felt gross, lethargic and let down. Once I made the conscious connection, I was able to approach that feast much differently. Now I can enjoy one reasonable plate of food–a reasonable serving of my favorites, a tiny serving of the others and pass on those that are just OK. I can walk away from the table still feeling energetic (and definitely guiltless). The lesson applies to every meal during the week, too. If you make a connection between your stressful day at work and a bag or Doritos, now you have the power to control the craving.
- Do you listen to your own self-talk? Or, has it become like the furnace in your house and you know longer notice when it turns on? Take a few minutes and notice what your self-talk sounds like. Would you be proud or embarrassed if your self-talk were on a billboard? Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? We all have a little devil who sits on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Which one is whispering more loudly in your ear? Your angel or your devil?
- How do you feel while you are getting ready for work? Are you looking forward to a few jokes in the breakroom with some co-workers you enjoy? Or, are you wrapped up in dread about a meeting, or quotas or something else? How do these feelings affect your physical wellness? How do they affect your performance?
Noticing these things about ourselves CAN result in change. Let’s say that your spouse asks if you have replaced the bathroom faucet. “No,” you say, “Why would I?” Then you walk in the bathroom and notice the faucet is leaking (and you’ve wondered why the water bill was increasing for the last few months!). Now that you’ve noticed it, you can take action and fix or replace the faucet.
The same is true about YOU. Maybe your doctor or loved one has mentioned (one too many times) a poor choice. You argue, “Hey, it’s hard to (insert life change here).” Maybe that’s losing weight, stopping smoking, partying less–WHATEVER. Take a minute and observe yourself. Once you notice something, you have the power to change it.