Are The ‘I Shoulds’ Swirling Around In Your Head?

Shoulds“I should … ”

You fill in the blank. Maybe it’s “I should eat more vegetables” or, “I should exercise more” or,”I should eat less” or, “I should quit eating fast food or junk food,” or “I should get up and take Sparky for a walk,” or … STOP!!!

A strange thing happens with shoulds; We begin to ignore them. Sounds good, right? Not so much. While we’re ignoring them, we’re still thinking them. We think them every time we do the opposite of what we think we should be doing. That thinking is a stressor; that creates a physical change in our body releasing a hormone, cortisol, that actually depletes energy and makes it harder for us to lose weight. Oh joy.

What to do? You’re going to hate me for this. When your shoulds relate to health improvement, you should do the shoulds, because you’re right, you should.

Don’t leave yet …

What I want you to start with is actually defining the shoulds in your head. Instead of, “I should eat more vegetables,” or, “I should exercise,” I want you to actually think about vegetables or exercise and which ones you like and how you might enjoy them. It might go something like this.

“I should eat more vegetables. What kind of veggies? Ummm … I don’t know, I kind of like peas and maybe broccoli when I dip it in dressing. I love salads but they’re a real hassle. Ummm … I like carrots and celery and I love, love, love green peppers and cucumbers. John ordered edamame at the restaurant the other night and it was tasty. Oh, and I love brussel sprouts, they are delicious!”

The next step in the process is to change the shoulds into actions.  From the example above, you’ve started identifying alternatives and soon you could catch yourself thinking, “I should eat more vegetables,” and immediately change it to, “I think I’ll stop at the salad bar on the way home and make a nice, big salad to have with dinner.” Of course you could also say a number of other things including cooking up some broccoli or cutting up some celery and carrots to serve with hummus before dinner or as a snack.

If it’s exercise you should be doing, you could list out things that you enjoy that involve movement. Dancing, walking the dog, riding a bike, playing chase with the kids, Wii Fit, group classes, swimming … Whatever it is that you love. Then you can change your vague should into, “I think when I get home I’ll play chase with the kids,” or “I think I’ll take my swim gear with and stop at the pool on the way home. They have a day rate and I’ll see how it goes!”

When you become aware of the shoulds and you begin to define them rather than let them hang out in your head as negative judgments, you’ll be developing tools that will allow you to create an action plan and taking action dispels the stress. It’s through awareness that we are able to make lasting change.

Can’t figure out what you should be doing or how to fit your shoulds into your busy schedule? That’s where I come in! As a Certified Holistic Health Coach I teach people how to fit healthy choices into their busy lifestyles. I do it using my own Step-by-Step Approach that’s tailored for each individual’s life, likes and dislikes … That’s why it works!

For more information, or to schedule a helpful, motivating Strategy Session, contact

Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices™



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