So I've had a few experiences over this past weekend, I had like four holiday parties over the span of five days. And aside from being completely exhausted, and potentially still a little hungover, there was this common thread that wove through all of the parties. And that was one of people expressing gratitude for the work that I do as the lead of my department in the hospital. And
what really struck me about all of these experiences was that people were expressing their gratitude to me in a very sincere way that felt real. And it really sort of knocked my socks off, because leadership is often a thankless job. And although my colleagues, my colleagues are fantastic at saying thanks, and expressing gratitude, and letting me know that I'm doing a good job, and that they appreciate me doing the job in the department, it was somehow different over this past weekend. And, you know, people sat me down and looked me in the eye and just made it clear that this is how they felt. And it was a really powerful experience for me to be on the receiving end of gratitude. And it also made me think of something that I've been practicing for quite some time now with my husband in the way that I thank him for cooking dinner. So he said, some remark to me, you know, a couple years ago about me not appreciating the work that he does for us and our family here in the house. And that really struck a nerve, because I am acts, I, you know, I'm actually extraordinarily grateful for all the work that he does around the house. And it made me realize that somehow the way that I was
communicating that just wasn't being heard by him in the way that I had hoped. And one of the things that rob my husband does for us is most of the cooking with my shift work, I am either never home around meal times, or I'm not home in time to prepare meals. And so that is just a job that he has taken on for us in our house. And since he made that comment to me, I have been very intentional about really feeling the gratitude and saying thank you for dinner, Rob every single time he cooks, and it's never an off the cuff remark. For me, it's something that I really take the moment to, you know, appreciate the effort that he puts in to feeding us and saying thankful, saying thank you in a way that I know, he is going to take in and feel the same way that I felt that gratitude coming off from my colleagues at the Christmas parties. And the thing is, is when you look at what gratitude actually does to your brain, and the effects that ultimately has in your body. practicing gratitude is actually a game changer when you do it consistently. And it's one of those things that requires very little effort to do. But that has huge payoffs in the end. And so I thought that I would spend the episode today talking to you about gratitude, and why I think it's important to include a component of gratitude in our weight loss journeys. And I'll start just by saying, you know, what is gratitude. And really, it's just, gratitude is just really taking the time to think about all the positive feelings in your life. And it's focusing on what you do have, rather than what you lack. And an interesting thing about gratitude is that it almost acts like a positive feedback loop. And what I mean by that is, gratitude makes you feel more gratitude. So once you start being intentional about feeling grateful, and expressing gratitude to others in your life, or even expressing gratitude towards yourself, you can't help but start to feel more gratitude as well. And as we'll talk about in a moment, there are so many physical and mental health benefits to gratitude that more is only going to do us better. And there's this lovely quote that I read some time ago by Melody Beatty, and she said, gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. I don't know I just think that's beautiful. But you still may be wondering why the heck I'm talking about gratitude on a wait
last podcast. And let's just look at what the science repeatedly shows about the effects of a gratitude practice on your life. It shows consistently improvements in both your mental and physical health. And if you even just look at health, the studies show time and again that practicing gratitude on a consistent basis helps you have more sleep, and better sleep quality. And people who experience gratitude on a daily basis, are actually spending more time doing exercise and physical movement, and experiencing less physical pain. And ultimately, this results in people just feeling more energy and more vitality. And
when you're also in the habit of expressing gratitude towards others, it also leads to deeper, more fulfilling relationships. And you know, relationship stress is often a cause of stress or anxiety or fear that tends to encourage us to overeat. And gratitude has also been shown to result in less stress in our lives, also less anxiety in our lives, and definitely more resilience. And it's also been shown to give us more happiness, more optimism, more improved self esteem, and just a better quality of life overall. And in fact, one of the more commonly quoted studies around this area is a study where they had people rate their overall level of happiness. And over a course of a six month period, where people were just doing gratitude journaling, once per week, over that six month period, they thought that their overall happiness level had increased by 10%. And, like 10%, maybe doesn't sound like a lot. But what would you do today, to feel just 10% happier, if all it really took was spending a few minutes writing, writing down some things that you're grateful for? Wouldn't you want to do it? I would, in fact, I do. I'll tell you about my gratitude practice just a little later on. And to take this even further studies has have also shown that it can decrease symptoms of depression by up to 35%. And this isn't even just one study, over the past 20 years or so a number of studies have been done to show that having a gratitude practice can actually aid in decreasing the symptoms of clinical depression. I just I just find it's amazing. And then another benefit of gratitude is that it helps you accept change. And for most of us change is often a really hard thing, even when it's changed for the better, because it comes with so much unknowns, and you just never know if life post change is going to be better or worse than life pre change. And so it just feels safer to maintain the status quo. But if you get yourself in the habit of noticing all the good that change can bring, we can become more flexible, around change, rather than just always focusing on the terrifying or the uncomfortable parts of change. And so we can really start to train our brain to focus on the good that comes out of it. And when we're struggling to lose weight, there's, there's always some little piece of us inside that wants to stay the same. Because we're so familiar with it, we're comfortable with it, and it just feels safe. And when we start to think about what the consequences of changing the way we eat, or changing the way we relate to food or changing the way our body looks, there's an element of fear there. So when we start practicing gratitude about the changes that are happening in our lives, then it just becomes a little bit easier to accept change in the grand scheme of things. And I think that's really a positive thing. And then perhaps one of the more important benefits of gratitude is that it really acts as a stress reliever. So they have done these functional MRI studies to show that the neurons that are firing in your brain, when you are experiencing a feeling of gratitude. Well, it's the same part of the brain that lights up when you experience pleasure. And the hormones that are released when this part of the brain is activated, induces the relaxation response in your body. So when you're feeling gratitude, you actually end up feeling calmer and more relaxed. And in fact, they've shown in multiple studies once again, that practicing gratitude will actually decrease your blood pressure. It's amazing. And it's you know, it's such a simple thing, just feeling grateful for the things that you have in your life can have all of these positive effects on your mood and your mental health and your body.
And when you look at all the things in your life that contribute to your weight gain or your struggles with losing weight, and I'm talking things like you know, poor sleep, high stress, low mood, difficult relationships, lack of energy, if simply practicing a feeling of gratitude can have such a huge impact, then it makes sense to me that we should be doing it regularly. And so the question is, then how can you begin to practice gratitude in your life and reap all of those benefits? Well, there's both formal and informal practices, both of which can be quite beneficial. And I think
the formal practice of having a gratitude journal is something that's easy to do, I think what's more difficult is adopting an informal practice of gratitude. And that really just means making gratitude a part of your day to day life. And really, this starts with just practicing mindfulness in your daily life, like taking the time to really notice what's around you, and seeing if you can pick up on the beauty that is around you. Like if you're out for a walk with your kids, can you notice the beauty of the nature? Can you notice the joy in the laughter of your children? Can you notice the joy in your dog as he's frolicking in the snow and wagging his tail? Or can you notice the kindness of someone holding the door open for you? Or can you notice the kindness of the barista at Starbucks? She writes your name on the cup, right? All of these little moments that happen in your day to day life? Where can you find gratitude? Where can you find the little instances or the experiences, or the gestures, or the feelings that just make you feel so happy to be alive, you want to start looking for those little moments in your day that simply make you feel good. And remember that as Rick Hansen says, your brain is like Velcro for bad experiences, and Teflon for good experiences. So you're naturally going to want to fixate on all of the things going wrong. It's just where your brain is going to want to go. And it's because your brain is wired to protect you. So it's always going to be look on the lookout for those negative, potentially dangerous things. So you have to consciously choose to be intentional, to make the decision to look for the good and everything. And of course, this is a practice. But one thing I like to do is use the app on my Apple watch that tells you to breathe, like do you have that on your watch, like, every little once in a while I just get this day, my watch tells me to breathe. And I actually take that moment to Yes, breathe, but to also take a look around me and, and just look for the good, and be grateful for what I find. And so once you're in the habit of being mindful and watching out for the beauty and the things that you can express gratitude for in your life, well, then the next step is to start practicing gratitude for the little things.
You know, it's always easy to feel grateful for the big things, right? If you win a lottery, or somebody gives you a big gift, or, you know, you go to the doctor and you you get a good diagnosis, or, you know, some you know, something that gives you this big huge sigh of relief or, you know, makes you laugh with complete and utter joy. Those things, it's easy to feel gratitude for. But you know, sometimes it's the little things in life that make the huge difference in the long run. Like, for example, for me, if I don't have a great sleep, it throws off my whole day, the next day, like even several days down the road will be thrown off if I don't get that one good night's sleep. And so when I wake up in the morning, and I've had a good sleep, I am very intentional about expressing gratitude simply for having a good sleep. And sometimes it's the same for cold water, like when I'm on a shift in the ER and I'm running my ass off and I have a moment to just sit down and take a sip of water and I've got one of those metallic sort of water bottles that just keeps the water cold and I feel that cold water going down my throat in that moment it feels like the most glorious thing ever. And I always stopped to pause and just take a moment to be grateful for that water. And it's the same with my dog like he'll do something like insanely cute. And I will literally stop and have a five minute session of feeling gratitude for how much joy Charlie brings me on a daily basis. Right it's it's the little things because the big things the winning the lottery that getting the job, the getting married, you know the big things in life they happen
so infrequently, they're few and far between. And if we're, if we are relying only on these big events to bring us joy, then we're going to have all of this time in the middle where we're just feeling lost, and perhaps even stuck in the negative. So it's looking for those little things every day, right, a hot cup of tea, a music that you love coming on the radio, something beautiful that you pass, when you're driving on your way to work, somebody's holding the door open for you. Like, it's just the little things like There's kindness and beauty all around us, if we can just train our brain to pause and take a look for it. And then once you're good at noticing those little things, and feeling the gratitude for them, the final step in this informal practice is to start experimenting with sharing your gratitude with others. And when I say that, I mean it in two different ways. So, you know, most of us take our loved ones for granted, right. And so just pointing out the things that you are grateful for in terms of your family, or your friends, or the people that you love, can go a long way, right. And this goes back to like my practice with Rob, of being very intentional about thanking him for dinner, when he prepares it for us. Otherwise, I'm just taking for granted all of the things that he does to support me and to support our marriage, when it comes to the things that he does for us around the house. So start to say thank you, and really mean it, when people in your life, do things that you might have been taken for granted all along. And so that's, that's one side of sharing your gratitude. And then the other side is really just pointing out to others, where you're feeling grateful, right. And it's, it's like, you know, if you're out walking with a friend in nature, and you notice how beautiful the trees look in the fall, or whatever it is just saying, you know, isn't it beautiful out here today, right, and just expressing that gratitude. Remember, I said at the beginning that gratitude begets more gratitude. It's like this positive feedback loop. And it will really strengthen your relationship with your friends and your family. If you're spending time sharing in that joyful experience of gratitude, rather than griping or complaining, or gossiping, or strategizing or doing whatever it is in your conversations. So I really recommend giving that a try. And
the key to all of this is really feeling the gratitude, right? Because if you think about like, How many times do you just instinctively say thank you to be polite, because it was how we were trained by our parents, without actually even pausing to feel that gratitude. And so it's, you know, it's never just enough to say thank you or to, you know, notice the beautiful trees on your walk, or how delicious your tea tastes. And shrugging it off, it's really taking a moment to experience just how good it feels to live in that gratitude for a minute. And a way to practice this is with your formal practice of keeping a gratitude journal. So this is actually something that I do twice a day. Now, for the longest time, I used to just do it in the morning. So you know, my morning routine involves, you know, getting up having a shower, brushing my teeth, doing my face all of the things and then I sit down for a meditation. And then I get up and I strategize my day. So I look at what my appointments are, what my schedule is, for the day, I look at my to do list of things that I need to get done over the next few days. And I write down a couple of mantras that I have for myself. And then I write down five things that I'm grateful for. And I do this every single day, seven days a week. And the rule that I have for myself around this is that I have to actually stop and feel the gratitude, right? Because it's easy for me to write down. I had a good sleep last night. But if it's just habit, if I'm just writing it down out of habit, I'm not really going to reap the benefits of that. So it's really about me taking a moment closing my eyes, breathing into that experience, and feeling the gratitude. And if I can't really find five things, then that's fine, right? It's, it's more important that the quality of the feeling of the gratitude is there rather than a large number of things on your list. So I do that every morning. And then in the evening, just recently, I started writing a gratitude list about my day as well just before I go to bed, and I recently read this book called The gap in the game. And I'm actually going to talk a little bit more about the book in next week's episode. But one of the things the authors suggest that you do is write a gratitude
To list just before bed, that if you go to sleep with a feeling of gratitude, rather than the hamster wheel, turning on and on about all of the negative things that happened, or all of the things that you're expecting to happen tomorrow, if you go to sleep with a sense of gratitude, you're going to have a better sleep, and you're going to wake up feeling better.
So that's something I've just recently started doing. So a couple of tips for your gratitude journal is to be specific. And when you do this, then you're really just kind of sinking into that experience that you had, and really feeling it over again, right. So lately, where I live, there's been a lot of snow in the last few days, but it's also been really sunny. And so there's snow on the spruce trees in the backyard, and the sun is just making everything glitter, it is really beautiful. So when I wrote about this, this morning, in my gratitude journal, I didn't just write, you know, trees in the snow in winter, I actually wrote the whole thing, like how the snow glistens on the trees, and blah, blah, blah, right, so that I could really, actually feel that appreciation for this particular beauty of nature. So you know, be specific. And then as I mentioned earlier, depth over breadth, so it doesn't matter how many things you have on your gratitude list. Even if it's just one, it's totally fine. The point is to feel the gratitude and not just write the words down. And then another great tip is to focus on people or experiences or things that you're sensing or feeling, rather than material things. And
part of the reason for this is that it's easier to feel genuine gratitude for the people or the experiences or the feelings, rather than the things, right. And then the other part of this is, things can get taken away, things can get lost, right. And along with that goes the gratitude. So if you're focusing your gratitude on the things that are always around you always with you, then I think it's just a little bit of a deeper practice. And related to that what's really important is to make sure at least from time to time, that you're expressing gratitude for yourself as well. Like, what are the pieces of you that you appreciate the most? What are the parts of your personality that give you the most strength in life? What are the things that you did, or the decisions you made? Or how are you showing up for yourself in a way that you feel really grateful for. And when it comes to weight loss and body image, what I also love to encourage women to do is write down a body part that you're really grateful for. And this can be hard work, especially for those of us that do struggle with a negative body image. But it can be such a beneficial practice for improving your body image. And so even if it's as simple as I really love the way my pinky nail looks today, then that's a start, right. But this is something that I make myself do, at least a few times a week is really just focus on a body part of mine that I'm grateful for. And if you're feeling really brave and ready for it, pick a body part that you don't particularly like and see if you can be grateful for it. Or, if not, can you just be grateful for having a body, if you just sit down and think about all the things in your life that your body allows you to do, it's hard not to feel some gratitude for it. And so this can be a really powerful practice to include on your weight loss journey. Because the better that you feel about yourself, and the more positively you're viewing your body, the easier it is to lose weight because it becomes more of a thing of love, rather than a thing of punishment. And we all know that you can't hate yourself, then we say that all the time here. But this is a practice that can really help you feel gratitude for your body and your health. And remember that gratitude begets more gratitude. And so once you start getting in this cycle of positivity, everything in your life gets easier, it gets better, including your weight loss efforts. And then another hint I have for you is to also just take a look at what's missing. So when we practice gratitude, we tend to look around us for all of the the added things that have brought us joy, all the things that have been given to us or the courtesies extended to us or you know the things that we look around us and physically see, but also take a moment to look at things that have been avoided that you can be grateful for. Right
or, you know, look at difficult experiences that you've had in the past, and be grateful that they're over now that you got through them. And that now you're living in a in a time of peace, for example, right. So you know, think about not just what's been added to your life, but what's been subtracted, as well. And then finally, my tip for you is to look at all of the good things in your life as gifts, rather than taking them for granted or holding the belief that you're entitled to them in some way, right? Every little thing in your life that has come to you, savor it, like no matter how small, if you,
you know, it can feel a little bit tricky, because, you know, in relationships, our partners should treat us with love and respect, of course, they should. But if you can foster this feeling of savoring it, every time your partner says something kind to you, and celebrating it as a gift, it just improves the depth of your relationships so much if you are coming from that place of gratitude, rather than coming from a place of expectation. Alright, so again, I just want to say again, that the key to all of this is that you have to really feel the gratitude, it's not enough to just sit down and scribble down a list of things that you think you might be grateful for, you got to really feel into it, and, and experience that gratitude. That's where the benefits that we talked about in the beginning of this episode all come from
alright, I would love to hear if you have a gratitude practice in your life and how that looks. Or if you intend to maybe start with a new gratitude practice in the new year, it really does make a difference in your Outlook. And I really encourage you to do that. If you want to share your story. Or if you want more tips from me, just reach out to me at Michelle at ways a health.com. And I'd love to have a conversation with you about it. And if you want some practice practicing gratitude with other women who are on the same journey, feel free to come join us inside the nourish yourself body and mind program. This is really the transformational program that we offer here at Wayza Health where you transform from the inside out. And a lot of this really just starts with gratitude. And
I would certainly be grateful to have you in there. And I'm sure the other Wayza women would love to have you in there as well. So if you're interested just head on over to www.nourishyourselfbodyandmind.com to join us in the next round. And I hope to see you there.