Your body responds to the way you think. Or, be careful what you think, "your body is listening to everything you say".

If you want to maximise your body's ability to stay healthy, your ideal regimen – along with your physical exercise and healthy eating plans must include addressing your thoughts and emotions.

Those who research the way the human mind functions have discovered that it is endlessly bombarded with a stream of automatic conscious and subconscious positive or negative thoughts that they call self-talk.

Although some of this self-talk "mind chatter" is based in logical thinking, many thoughts are actually rooted in preconceptions and misconceptions going back as far as early childhood. These are thoughts that sabotage our persistent efforts to reach our goals – health and fitness included.

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Norman Vincent Peale, who first fostered the idea that personal unhappiness is manifested initially in the mind says that "fear and worry are the byproducts of negative feelings fostered by thoughts of resentment and ill will that are self-manufactured".

Minister and author Dr Norman Vincent Peale in 1966.
Minister and author Dr Norman Vincent Peale in 1966. "Fear and worry are the by-products of negative feelings fostered by thoughts of resentment and ill will that are self-manufactured. Getty Images

In other words, by dwelling on unhappy thoughts and habitually maintaining negative attitudes about life, we create stress that ultimately leads to misery and disease.

On the other hand, when we're optimistic, we enjoy healthier lives. We're in better overall physical, mental and emotional health and can develop less stressful coping mechanisms to deal with life's challenges. As positive thinkers, some of the health benefits experienced are – lower rates of depression, natural resistance to illness and disease and longer life spans.

Unfortunately, most people who struggle with poor health or overweight conditions would love to get healthier, fit and lose weight and many try repeatedly but continue to fail.

Why?

Because the "faulty wiring" in their minds is still running the show.

As positive thinkers, some of the health benefits experienced are - lower rates of depression, natural resistance to illness and disease and longer life spans. Getty Images
As positive thinkers, some of the health benefits experienced are - lower rates of depression, natural resistance to illness and disease and longer life spans. Getty Images

Somewhere lurking in their "inner mind programming" are outdated, misinformed, tired old ideas and beliefs causing inner resistance. This inner resistance ends up blocking any ability to make consistent, correct, healthy lifestyle choices, leading them to adopt unhealthy ones.

These "outdated programmes" are like the outdated programs on a computer … useless and even dangerous!

For example, someone trying to lose weight but currently running faulty programming that hinders weight loss efforts, will experience nothing but struggle and resistance with healthy food and exercise strategies that could otherwise help them.

Their mind needs a serious upgrade and shift in perception before further action is taken.

Rather than "seeing" a strong, fit, slim, healthy body as a positive, exciting possibility, someone with a distorted, faulty view/perception/subconscious belief sees it as a source of sacrifice, commitment and effort. This belief "sinks the ship before it launches".

It also leads to the belief that they lack self-discipline and the motivation required to stick to a healthy eating plan (make sacrifices) and show up at the gym a couple of times a week (effort). These distorted thoughts are painting a dismal view in their minds and scaring them away.

Truth is, before taking any action steps, thoughts must be addressed because it is the thought driving the action. Adding layer after layer of action plans on top of faulty mind programming does not work and only results in eventual defeat.

Failure is experienced time after time using this approach and each defeat only sinks you deeper into your faulty belief system that ends up feeding you more negative programming while ignoring and eliminating any positive programming.

Not the kind of cycle you want to be caught in.

To break out of this "blocked" thinking cycle, a serious mind software upgrade is needed. A shift to a new healthier, positive perception/way of "seeing' things, the kind of programming that "slim, fit, people run" is required.

Embracing new healthier "positive" perceptions allows your mind to work with you rather than against you. Food choices automatically become healthier and exercise is viewed as enjoyable rather than sacrificial. And, the best part of all is – the supposed "battle" with yourself disappears.

In the end, "thoughts really are things". Even if you're not paying attention, your body is.

You can make getting healthier and/or losing weight easy and nearly effortless through healthy, positive thoughts/programming or you can continue with the struggle. The choice is always yours.

■ Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.