9 Toxic Beliefs That Sabotage our Health & How to Change Them

Sep 27, 2023

Most battles begin in the mind, and my investment in my wellness is no exception. After experiencing a miscarriage a few years ago, I made the decision to do a couple a things:

  1. To let myself grieve and
  2. To intentionally invest in my holistic health. 

Shortly after, I began a membership program with a health facility in NYC to meet with a personal physician and health coach regularly. Within two months, I purchased more vitamins than I had for the entirety of the prior year. I began consistently journaling, and became more committed to engage in things that truly refresh my soul. I began to value my sleep differently (which fast-forward to the present is slowly coming back to me as my daughter gets older. The first year of motherhood was a sleep-deprived fog!) I now read labels and pay more attention to what I put in my body. I exercise most days, and have rediscovered a love for running and strength-training. 

I began finally coming to terms with just how often I had put my health on the back burner in the name of busyness, deadlines, and demands. I am grateful for the resources and a very supportive husband that empowers me to stay true to my commitment to my personal health. I haven’t always had these blessings in my life. I’ve also realized that the greatest limitation to my wellness over the years hasn’t been a lack of support, it has been my own mindsets and patterns of thinking.

For many reasons to be further explored in another article or podcast discussion, it seems harder for women than men to keep their health a priority without feeling guilty about it or weighed down by insecurities and anxieties. And it seems to get exponentially harder after entering motherhood! We jump to taking care of anyone and everyone before ourselves, or we create health goals motivated by unrealistic societal expectations of what a woman should look like or having going for her, or we feel like we could be doing more/ better in comparison to another woman with either smaller thighs or a bigger following or more of what seems like a selfie-perfect life. 

The last few years, I’ve confronted many toxic beliefs I’ve held over the years that have kept me from unapologetically taking care of myself, free of guilt or shame. Wherever you are in your own health journey, I hope that this article gives you the unspoken permission to reject some of these rather common negative thinking patterns and choose something better for yourself… because, you are worth it.

Common Toxic Beliefs that Sabotage Our Health:

1. I hate this about my body: ________.

What we see when we look in the mirror sets the stage for whether we will treat our bodies with the TLC it deserves or punish and/or neglect it motivated by insecurity. I’ve looked in the mirror countless times in my life, and instead of celebrating my unique beauty, immediately criticized the body part that didn’t meet my standards or society’s– I’m not sure which. But now, I’ve committed to smiling more when I look in the mirror (especially with my postpartum body), thanking God for this body He’s given me without pressuring myself to fix anything about it. 

2. I don’t have time to workout or eat healthy.

When you look at your Google calendar, what do you see? A woman who is overworked and malnourished? A mother who is trying to meet everyone’s demands and make those around her happy all the time? A woman who is getting through life more than enjoying it? Time is one of our greatest resources we have, and we’ve all been given the same 24 hours to work with. Inspect your calendar to ensure you are spending your time intentionally on what and who you value, and make sure you are on that list! I’m learning to say ‘no’ more in order to create time to invest in my health on a regular basis. 

 3. I don’t need that much sleep.

I used to live by the phrase, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” In the short term it may have excused my workaholic tendencies in the name of passion and determination, but in the long run it left me burnout and struggling to find my sense of self outside of my work. Moral of the story: Get your beauty sleep. There are certainly times when staying up late to hang with friends or unwind from a busy day is the best choice to feed the soul. But you should aim for 7-8 hours of solid sleep a night. You need it, and your body will thank you. *Obviously, when you have babies and small kiddos in the home, sleep is often interrupted. Sleep regressions are real, and kick your butt. If that’s where you are at, girl, I see you. You got this. I promise that one day you will have a wonderful night’s sleep! In the meantime, naps, coffee, and establishing night shifts with your spouse to help carry the load with your kids have been clutch for me. (Do we even say clutch anymore? I don’t know. I stopped being cool in the 2010’s.)

4. I need to get everything done before I can rest.

Let’s normalize that there will always be items on our to-do list at the end of the day that don’t get done. At the end of the day or a full work week, we need to be able to rest, even if that means asking for help at work to create a healthy workload or resetting healthier expectations around what we can accomplish in a day or week. In the evening, I know that some work and errands will be waiting for me tomorrow, and that’s okay. It doesn’t need to hinder my ability to switch my mental gears to be present for my husband, my community and myself to connect and refresh.

5. Because I ate or drank ________, I have to hit it hard at the gym.

Workouts are not punishments for bad behavior! Fitness is not meant to be torture, but an investment in me. I tend to eat healthy and workout regularly, but I refuse to arrange the intensity of my workouts around how many slices of pizza I ate the night before. Let’s commit to enjoying the carbs or sweets in moderation, without feeling guilty. 

6. Yikes, I’m getting old. 

I found myself saying this a lot. When a new wrinkle started to form on my forehead or a new gray hair appeared or when my back felt sore after sleeping on a soft mattress, I would mumble under my breath over how old I was getting. There’s two problems with this mindset: Firstly, there is nothing wrong with getting older. It is something to be celebrated, not endured. Secondly, age is only a number and it has as much power as I allow it to have. Now, I am choosing to embrace my age and the life experience that comes with it while still committing to staying young at heart. 

7. I don’t want to be a burden.

Everyone needs encouragement, support, and help to keep their wellness a priority. The mom with young kids needs the husband or friend to watch the kids for an hour so she can attend the pilates class. The young woman recovering from an eating disorder needs the love and accountability of those around her to develop a healthier relationship with food. The employee needs her coworkers to hit their deadlines for her to plan for and enjoy the upcoming vacation without having to check emails while she’s away. We all need help, and it’s up to us to ask for that help without minimizing our needs or demanding our way. Instead, we can kindly express that we need support and express gratitude when those around us provide us with help and encouragement. 

8. I’ll get it checked out later.

The lump. The back pain. The abnormal breakouts. The digestive issues. The low energy. The mood swings. The irregular periods. The pain when having sex. These are not issues to get to later; your body is speaking to you through these symptoms and asking for your attention. Instead of binge reading webmd.com, see your doctor. Get a referral. Refuse to put your health on the backburner out of fear or busyness.

9. It’s too hard.

Making changes to your diet or your fitness routine or your sleep schedule usually doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Change takes time. Instead of an extreme immediate overhaul of all your eating, drinking, sleeping, and exercise habits (Just the thought of that is overwhelming!) Simply choose one positive change to make at a time. Slow and steady progress over time has a snowfall effect. After you gain traction with one healthy practice, move on to the next. Rest assured, little by little you will gain ground in your own health journey!