Visualizing yourself getting thinner and thinner, remember or imagine what it feels like to be thin – the clothes you are then able to wear, your dealings with people, how you handle your body. – Geneen Roth, Feeding The Hungry Heart
The first time I went to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, I was on a field trip with my high school music department. We heard the opera Carmen performed with the New York Philharmonic. It was an inspiring experience, and as we left the hall and walked across the plaza, I told my pianist friend, “I’m going to sing here someday.” It was a bold dream. And it came true. After years of studying voice and acting, singing in church choirs as a soloist, and performing in plays, I auditioned for the New York City Opera, the resident opera company at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center.
Singing was just part one of the audition process. Part two was the “costume” audition: taking my measurements. Yes, I had to fit into costumes that already existed. City Opera, when Beverly Sills was at the helm, was not a place where the fat lady sings. We were featured on Live from Lincoln Center and Great Performances on PBS. We had to sing well and look good on stage and television. To stay in shape, we thought nothing of running up three flights of stairs to the dressing room to beat the crowd in the elevator, or taking dance classes at Steps on Broadway between rehearsals and performances. Those were the days, my friend…we thought they’d never end. We’d sing and dance forever and a day….
Now I look back on that period of my life as visualization and motivation. My photographs in opera and theater scenes are posted on my vision board: a tangible tool with which to see myself in the prime of my life and to use as inspiration for my weight and fitness transformation.
My ultimate and realistic goal is to live the healthiest life I can, and to live long enough to see what my grandchildren might become.
I ask my clients to make a collage, vision board or photo journal of several photos from different periods in their lives in which they liked how they looked, felt good about their fitness, or were happy with themselves. When we get together for our next session, we talk about their photos and personal histories. Then, with a mindset of self-compassion, we create affirmations that focus on the positive.
For people who have struggled with obesity for most of their lives, visualization can be a difficult exercise. It might be the first time a person talks about the gym teacher who called them “fat,” shaming them in middle school, or the high school health teacher who announced their BMI in front of the class. These negative experiences are painfully embedded during our most vulnerable ages. Getting to the roots of these feelings, we may realize that some adults didn’t provide the nurture we needed in the past.
As adults, we have to learn to nurture ourselves back to health, setting intentions and actionable goals.
What are your goals? How do you see yourself becoming healthier?
Your brain is constantly using visualization in the process of simulating future experiences, but this process happens so naturally that you generally aren’t even aware of it, the same way you usually aren’t aware that you are breathing. If you aren’t aware of it then you aren’t actively directing the process. You can learn to use visualization to actively create future simulations that can help you improve the goals that you set for yourself. 3 Effective Visualization Techniques to Change Your Life | Psychology Today
Create a vision board for health and wellness goals. Let your imagination and creativity lead you. Make a collage with photographs and affirmations or statements that inspire you. The positive framing of your goals can bring about their manifestation. Go in the direction of your dreams…
To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act! – Alfred A. Montapert
♥ Susan L. Ward
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach