10 Mind Tricks to Keep Your Day Healthy

By Mike Howard


It’s very easy to talk yourself out of doing something healthy.

Whether you’re struggling to hike a mountain, thinking of the drive through, don’t want to do your knee rehab, or don’t want to escape the confines of your comfy bed.

Here are some examples of how to turn the tables on your negative self-coach. Whoa – it’s been a long, stressful day and I’m beat. I’ll just hit a drive-through on the way home.
No you won’t! Your body needs regenerative, wholesome food right now. Stop by the grocery store and grab a roasted chicken, pre-washed lettuce and two veggies, and you’ve got a meal in 5 minutes.

First minute of this spin class and I’m already feeling gassed!
Just relax, first couple of minutes are often tough, as your lactate system is predominating. You know you’ll feel better after a couple of minutes when your aerobic system starts to dominate.

I’m running short on time – I would only have a half-hour at the gym if I went now. I think I’ll skip it.
NO YOU WON’T! Stop thinking in dichotomies, you can get a lot done in 30 minutes. Just go now. Don’t think about it. Brab your gym bag, car keys and get there!

I think I need to stop
Don’t even think about it! You got to this point, make the most of it. You’ll feel a FAR better sense of accomplishment if you finish what you intended to do.

I don’t have the will power to stop eating ice cream
Enough excuses! Figure out ways to avoid it and replace it with healthier food. Forget about will power, try “want power” – you “want” to and “will” cut back on the ice cream.

Oh those baked goods smell so good – maybe I’ll grab a donut.
WRONG! Yes, it smells good, acknowledge it, and move on. Get to the produce section, STAT! If you don’t buy the donut you can’t eat the donut.

Well, I’ve already blown my diet today so what the hay, I’ll dig into those chocolates that have been taunting me.
That’s a copout! This is the very reason NOT to go off the rails. Stop the lapse NOW. It happened and you need to move past it, and get back on track, starting 1 minute ago.

Ooh, my shoulders ache
Yeah, Rick Hansen’s did too when he went up the Great Wall of China… in a wheelchair – with debilitating tendinitis and blistered and calloused hands.

I’m running late – I’ll have to grab something when I’m out.
Stop right there! Open your fridge and cupboards quickly and grab anything you can find that’s healthy. It’ll take less than 3 minutes to put a few snacks together.

Man… 6:00am already… I really need the extra sleep today.
NO – get out of bed now. Don’t think about it. Just turn the alarm off, and get yourself going. You’ll feel much better having your workout over with.

The key in any situation is to recognize excuses, rationalizations and other negative thoughts, and nip them in the bud. Replace those excuses with feasible, healthier alternatives. It takes practice, but can be done.

What are some of your self-coaching tips?

Image Credit: Healthy snack ideas


  1. WellnessDetective

    I think one of the keys to success to key your day and week healthy is to create a support system and have an accountability partner. Tag team with a friend or even hire a coach.

  2. Susan

    No, I get it. Adequate sleep is SO important, and when I actually get enough, I don’t need the alarm to get me up. That has sadly NOT been the case lately though. I hate my alarm sometimes! But I work out after work.

  3. Mehitabel

    I find I talk to myself. A LOT. Like, “I don’t wanna hit the treadmill. I really don’t. Maybe I’ll just do a mile. Do a mile and at least you’ve done *something*” I do that mile…plus three more. It’s just getting STARTED that’s hard sometimes.

    And WTF is with the alarm clock comment? If I didn’t have one, I could sleep till 10 am…even if I went to bed at 10 pm!! Geez.

  4. ArrowSmith

    That’s what I do when I get tendinitis, I go to the bike.

  5. Mike Howard

    Point well taken… I’ll clarify and say that I don’t ever recommend people try and push through pain – certainly nothing sharp, acute or intense. I’m talking about people who want to quit because “it’s hard” or makes them feel a bit uncomfortable.

    Rick Hansen is a different kettle of fish and sometimes I find it helps if we think of people who have overcome adversity to accomplish amazing things.

    Hope that clarifies.

  6. Spectra

    If I’m in pain, I cross-train to do something that doesn’t aggravate the injury. When tendonitis sidelined me from running, I biked and did the elliptical machine. Sometimes, you have to get creative.

  7. ArrowSmith

    Some of us have to get to work ya know…

  8. Maggie

    If you need an alarm clock to wake up, you’re going to bed too late and not getting enough sleep!

  9. ArrowSmith

    So do you ever go for a run in pain? Just power through it? Oh to be 20-something….

  10. Spectra

    The only reason I ever miss a workout is that last one…if I am in bed and my alarm goes off and I just get up and go, I’m fine. If I wait for any amount of time and think “Oh, I can sleep a little more”, then I’m screwed. I always go back to bed and fall back asleep. You really do have to just get up and go and not think about it.

  11. ArrowSmith

    One thing I’ll disagree with the author is continuing to exercise in pain. Your body is telling you to STOP for a reason. The key is to be intelligent about your workouts, know when to stop, to substitute and if needed to take anti-inflammatories.