A woman leans against a table and smiles.
Pick and stick to your personal mantra to gain control of your life. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

The other day I had lunch with a friend at Panera. I had been craving my favorite Fuji apple salad and was really hungry when placing my order.

I have been avoiding simple carbs for quite some time, so I ordered an apple as a side—not the French baguette I love.

My friend ordered the baguette, and it looked so good! It was so fresh and warm, and I could tell it was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside—exactly the way I like it.

I remembered my mantra and grabbed my apple.

My mantra is “lean and ease of movement.”

It means I can sit with my knees up like I used to when I was younger (and more flexible). It means no extra weight around my middle, and it also means feeling “light” as I move around. My mantra (and everything it represents) is so important to me.

When I am carrying extra weight, I hate the way my clothes feel—tight and restricted. It makes me feel trapped and reminds me of times when I had to sit and practice piano. When I am lean, I feel healthy and in charge of my health, and I don’t have to shop for bigger clothes (an added bonus).

Why do we make the choices we make? Choices imply active decision-making, but sometimes the decision is made by the act of not deciding.

When I was growing up, there was a sign on the wall in the stairwell of my home that read, “Not to decide is to decide.” I think that says it all.

For example, if I choose to not make my lunch or bring a snack to work, I am choosing to be without good choices throughout the day. As a result of not having a plan for lunch or snacks at work, I am choosing to eat fast food or unhealthy snacks, which are not the best for my mind, my mood, or my waistline.

So, what do you care about?

Do you care about your heart and really don’t want to have a heart attack at 50 like your aunt did? Do you want to feel and look great at 60, unlike your sister who smoked and chose not to exercise?

If you dig deep and get at what you really care about and create a mantra to fit, you will claim power over the day-to-day and significant situations that occur in your life.

It could be as mundane as choosing what to eat for lunch (healthy versus unhealthy) or whether or not to exercise when you don’t feel like it, or as important as finding the courage to quit your job to pursue a new career.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when creating your mantra:

  • What do I really want for my life (or health) in the next six months?
  • When I think about what I really want, what does that mean to me?
  • What feelings do I experience when I look at what I really want for my life?
  • What mantra would capture the feeling of what I want?
  • In what situations would I need/use a mantra?

My mantra helps steer me in the right direction almost daily. Take some time to compose your own mantra and enjoy having more power over the choices you make each day.