Healthy Living with Jilisa Ghareeb: The Power of Your Words

Happy May! I started wondering if we were really in April last month or if it was October, what with all the tricks in weather. What a month that was. I truly hope we are on the upswing now and there will be no more tricks!

Speaking of tricks, our words can be pretty tricky. Do you know how many times a day we trick ourselves with our words? When we think we are speaking kindly but it is really jealousy, anger or maybe resentment in disguise.

Words have power

The power that we have to encourage and discourage not only ourselves, but others is amazing. One word can either lift us up or break us down. It is painful to either hear or read words that put people down, when in the same amount of time it took to say the negative you could have said the positive. Right now, though I want to focus on how we speak to ourselves and the impact that it has on us and others.

When we say something as simple as “dummy” or something more intense like “you mess everything up,” the downward spiral that starts to happen is immediate in our brain and this affects our internal health and our outward performance. The moment you tell yourself a negative word your amygdala activity increases exponentially. The amygdala is the integrative center for emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation. When speaking negatively, the amygdala becomes fear central station, negative hormones and negative neurotransmitters are released and start wreaking havoc. Not only does tension and nervousness appear but reasoning and logic literally start shutting down. This does not sound like something I want to put anyone through, including myself.

In all areas of life, the words we speak internally and externally have power. When you are working out, the moment you think or speak “I can’t do this,” the weights become heavier, you get slower, and you may even stop. 1 more rep will not be an option. In business the moment you think or speak “I’m not smart enough,” the task becomes harder and more burdensome. What should only take a few moments could now take hours.

One more thing before we flip the script, when you think and speak negativity, you will find the negative in the world around you. For example, during your workout, you told yourself “I can’t lift heavier, I can’t do any more reps, I can’t do that move!” Because of that one phrase (or maybe you said all 3 or more), you finished your workout feeling like you failed. While getting ready for the day, you still thought about that and now you do not have any clothes that fit right, you cannot get your hair to curl the right way and there is no time for breakfast. On the way to work everyone drives too slow and of course you hit all the red lights. Your brow is furrowed as you walk into the office and there is a co-worker, as happy as a clam and ready to shower you with kindness, which you find annoying. The pattern continues all day and everything you see is negative.

Flip the Script

Time to flip the script on that same scene. During your workout you tell yourself “With more practice I can do this move, I’m picking up heavier weights, Go me!” Speaking those positive words to yourself, you finish your workout feeling strong and accomplished. You get ready with a smile on your face, you have so many clothes to choose from and your hair does what you want it too. You do not have time for breakfast, but you have coffee, and you can eat when you get to work. Your drive to work is exactly the same but now you are focused on that great podcast, or your favorite playlist and red lights give you a few more moments to listen. As you walk into the office with a smile on your face, your happy as clam (always) coworker showers you with kindness and you do not mind as you say, ‘Good Morning.’ The pattern continues all day and there is always something positive to find.

Your scene may not play out exactly the same way, but I think you get the idea. When you speak positive words, fear central station (your amygdala) is quiet. Your positive words are now encouraging cognitive thought, your heart rate remains steady, and you are able to recover from any anxiety much faster. You are now stimulating frontal lobe activity and functions in the parietal lobe start to change. The parietal lobe is a major sensor processing hub. It combines lots of information into a useable form. With a positive view of yourself, you bias yourself into seeing the positive all around you.

I encourage you to write down the negative phrases that you tell yourself and flip the script on them. If you find that you call yourself stupid or dummy because of a simple mistake, stop and tell yourself that you are where you are because you are smart and that this is an opportunity to gain experience from a simple mistake. If you say “I can’t” a lot, take off the not and say “I can…learn new things, do one more rep, do 2 reps with a heavier weight, try a food in a new way. Learning to do this can be a long and not so easy process, but it is possible. Here are 4 tips to help you in this endeavor:

  1. Positive affirmations – Make a list and say them (out loud if you can) every morning. Take a picture and make it your phone wallpaper, tape a list to the bathroom mirror. Repeat them often throughout the day.
  2. Get support – Tell your family, friends, and coworkers what you are doing and ask them to gently remind you to find the positive if they observe you being a bit negative.
  3. Find the root cause – there is a root cause for everything including negativity. Find what it is and take the necessary action to fix that.
  4. Focus on your strengths – just like affirmations, write down your strengths and focus on those while you are learning new things. You are smart and capable of doing anything you set your mind too!

You can learn a lot about yourself during this process as well. If there are some things that you find you just cannot flip the script on (right now), if possible, remove them from your life or at least limit them until you have built the confidence and positive affirmations that you need to flip the script.

While we are flipping the script on our negativity, why not do the same with unhealthy food. The recipe of the month is a much healthier version of an old staple you may recognize, and it takes about the same amount of time to make!

Recipe of the month: Beef Macaroni

Recipe: Fixate by Bodi

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp tomato paste
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp chili powder
.5 tsp sea salt
.25 tsp ground black pepper
3.5 cups low sodium organic beef broth
8 oz dry whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp cornstarch

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat.
  2. Add beef; cook, breaking it up for 4 minutes
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions; cook for another 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add tomato paste, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional 1 minute.
  4. Add broth; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; stir to combine. Reduce heat to low; gently boil; stirring often for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add cheddar cheese and cornstarch to small mixing bowl; toss to combine. Add cheese mixture a handful at a time to pot; stir until cheese is fully incorporated and sauce thickens.

We absolutely loved this recipe and will be making it again and again. If you try it out, please let me know what you think! As always, I encourage you to add intentional movement into your daily life. Let’s lunge into the move of the month!

Move of the Month: Back lunge with front knee raise

This month I decided to keep the move simple. You can add weights in or not. Start in a standing position with feet together. Step backward with either foot, keep your chest up and lower yourself until both legs are in a 90/90 position. Now you are going to bring the same foot forward but instead of landing back in the standing position you are going to raise the front knee to hip height. Key points for this move are to not let your knee hit the ground (ouch that hurts) and as you raise back up to squeeze your cheek in the static leg and as always keep that core tight. If you need support, use a chair to help your balance. If you are adding weight, hold 2 dumbbells in either hand at your sides. If you are using a chair and want to hold a weight, use 1 dumbbell.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. Starting and navigating a new journey can be intimidating and overwhelming. Working with someone who has been in your shoes is extremely helpful and encouraging. Journeys are better when in the company of others.

Jilisa Ghareeb has been a BODi coach for 8 years. Her favorite part of being involved with fitness and nutrition is watching her clients change and open up a whole new world. As a coach she, is able to help others by introducing them to a change that is often scary, intimidating, and full of “what ifs” to an encouraging and inspirational lifestyle full of “I cans.” She uses her own story to show others that everything is possible with hard work and determination. If you are interested in reaching out to Jilisa for more information, you can contact her via email, on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.

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