Maximize Your Mental & Physical Well-being

Dr. Lisa Belanger

Dr. Lisa Belanger, Catalyst Podcast
Catalyst - Health, Wellness & Performance Podcast

Full Transcript

Dr. Cooper: 0:07

Welcome to the latest episode of The Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Bradford Cooper, and if you’re interested in the how and why, behind behavior change, you’re gonna love today’s discussion with Dr. Lisa Belanger. Dr. Belanger has a PhD in behavioral medicine. She’s the CEO and founder of Conscious Works, which is a consulting firm that helps everyone executives, entrepreneurs you name it apply the findings from leading edge scientific analyses to maximize both their mental and physical well being. She’s authored a couple of books we will talk about. She’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She’s run the Paris Marathon. She’s the mother of two young children, and she does a really nice job of pulling back the curtain on how this whole behavior change thing has applied in her marriage and with her kids. You love the story about the Peppers, by the way, and her life. By the way, if you’re looking to earn your wellness coach certification before the National board requirements change this fall, we’ve added an extra option. Obviously, travel is a, it’s a tough deal right now, so we worked with the NBHWC and we’ve gotten approval for something called the at Home Fast track. This allows you to do everything that’s required, work through the whole process, be ready for that exam, apply for it on time and yet do it right from your home. So space is limited because we still want to emphasize the personal connection, even though we’re doing it online. But if you’ve been pondering this route, maybe now’s a good time to check it out. As always, if you have any questions, reach out to us We’ll get some time on the calendar to connect individually. All the details and a number of other resources that might be helpful are also available on the website Now it’s time to tune into the discussion with Dr. Lisa Belanger on this episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance podcast. Dr. Belanger, welcome to the show.

Dr. Belanger: 2:11

Thank you for having me.

Dr. Cooper: 2:12

I knew this was gonna be great as we’re chatting a little bit before hitting the record button. This is right up the alley for this podcast. Your insights are, they’re fantastic. I think we’ll have a lot of fun today. First question of the gate, motivation, behavior change, healthy living. Are these elements you always been interested in? Or how did this become the focus of your PhD and eventually, professional pursuits?

Dr. Belanger: 2:34

So health in general has always been a huge part of my life. I blame my parents. They’re incredibly healthy individuals. So they brought that perspective, and I joke around, I got into behavior change within the house room because I’m what we call a control enthusiast. I like knowing that we have control over for our health. So that my physical activity, nutrition, that idea of motivation, sleep, stress. These are all behaviors we have control over. And I know that’s what pushed me towards this realm.

Dr. Cooper: 3:02

Nice. Nice. All right. So the let’s start with motivation. The concept of motivation comes up pretty consistently with health and wellness. What insights can you share with us about the topic that might not be standard? Oh, yeah, I’ve always heard those things.

Dr. Belanger: 3:18

Yeah, that it is not that important. So we talk about it often. That’s a conversation we have in this health and wellness field. But it is an aspect of it. But what we can control as professionals that help other individuals is actually what social environments they’re in, what physical environments they’re in. There’s plenty of research that says you can change and have actually pretty big impact on behavior change just by changing those two aspects of what we call choice architecture. So yes, motivation is important, but it wanes. There’s days that people are tired, their situations, that it’s the easiest thing. They’re gonna do what’s easiest for them. So if we can create a social environment where their peers they’re doing the behavior that we want them to do or that they want to do excuse me or you can create an environment literally where, healthy food is the easier choice. That’s gonna have almost as much of an influence and more in some cases when it comes to health behaviors.

Dr. Cooper: 4:22

Okay, so love that concept. Take us back a step. How do we get the ball rolling on, those two are the starting points to that, people who are nodding their head and saying, Well, yeah, that makes sense. But what do I start?

Dr. Belanger: 4:38

Sure. So, for example, we talked about in the field now is get rid of resolutions, get rid of goals and create micro changes. You know, what are those small little things you can do that are gonna have a sustainable impact. But more than that sustainable change that you’re gonna do
for the rest of your life. Now, it’s not this quick fix. So I’m gonna take something super simple drinking water, drinking more water. So that is a micro change you’d like to do. You know that you’ll eat a little less when you’re not dehydrated and the health benefits of that. Um how are you gonna have water on you all the time? So that the easiest thing to do is drink the water that’s right beside you. So having either prompts and I’ve heard this a lot, certain words you type or certain words you hear, you take a sip of water and because it’s right there, you’re gonna be able to do that quite easily. And then think about when is it hard for you to drink water and I’ll give you an example. I commute, um, about an hour to the closest city to do a lot of my work. I rarely remember to bring a water bottle to put in the car. So that ends up being a period of time where I don’t consume as much water that like to now there’s a dedicated water bottle that in my car.

Dr. Cooper: 5:56

So that’s setting up that physical environment very easily. What about the social side? What about folks that say, Yeah, I could see how that’s happened in my life in the past, but how do I go about that? Any tips along those lines?

Dr. Belanger: 6:09

There’s a profound impact of our social environment, and it’s something we kind of neglect. So for a long time cardiac rehab, a great example, they get this incredible behavior change and exercise program and nutrition program when smoking cessation after they have a heart attack and then a year later, so few of them are still doing it. And the reason is we put them back into their environment, social and physical, where old habits come by really easily. So when we think of what we can do socially, if your goal, if you were what you’d like to do in 2020 is go, um, run a 1/2 marathon, run a 10 k, join a running group make sure you’re putting yourself around people that do this activity. If the people around you don’t already do it, don’t get rid of your people. Just make sure that you have a community and a group that does it. It becomes really easy to say I’m not going for my run today, but really hard to tell somebody else you’re not going for the run to create the level of commitment, to create the level of social well being and belonging, which is an innate sense we have. Running a race is not an innate sense. It’s not something we’re born with but wanting to belong to a group is.

Dr. Cooper: 7:19

Oh, yes, now that’s excellent. Excellent. All right, so then, don’t say the dark side of that, But the potentially negative side of that is if someone’s hang out with friends, they join a running club. It’s a fantastic idea, which had so many people that that talk highly about the impact that’s had. But in this particular person’s life now their old friends, old friends in quotes are saying, Well, you never go out with this anymore. You you always you’re you know, you go to bed at 9:30 on days, you gotta be up for your running crew. What happened to you? What’s wrong with you? Why? Why don’t you, hang out? Any thoughts on how to fight that tie or fight that resistance. That’s going to be natural. We read about this all the time.

Dr. Belanger: 8:03

Absolutely. So you’re right. There is a little resistance there, but like the way that I phrase it is, we have this influence of the people around, especially the people we really care about. And they have an opinion about what you’re doing, but they do not have to live with the consequences of what you’re doing. So if you have somebody that’s kind of doing that peer pressure saying that we all like we all cave to all the time, um they aren’t gonna have to live with the consequences of not doing the running. They’re not gonna have to live with the consequences of a maladaptive lifestyle that’s yours, right? So you do have complete autonomy over that. If you really enjoy this person making plans with them before 9:30 p.m. Or, you know, like creating something that is yours that you do together, that is not contradictory to the behavior that you’re trying to create. So, for example, they want to go have a few beers and it’s past 9:30. You have to get up for a run that’s not supporting the behaviors you want. But if you can meet over coffee with him in the morning or just go and have one beer and make a presence, say I’m still here because you don’t want to cut the social ties, you just want them to be supportive of the life you want.

Dr. Cooper: 9:15

Well, and maybe there’s a reflection in there, whereas you think through. Why are they wanting me to stay out till 11 or 12 at night? That’s again, maybe that creates a positive reflection in other areas.

Dr. Belanger: 9:27

Absolutely. And it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them is really important to remember that.

Dr. Cooper: 9:33

All right with your research and you’ve tested this little bit along with a lot of others, have provided huge insights lately on this idea of behavior change. But worldwide we’re getting we’re getting worse. Instead of better we’re missing, what’s missing out there with all the you know, we know information doesn’t equal application, but what is missing that’s not taking all these great insights and turning it into results>

Dr. Belanger: 9:59

So the biggest thing, and this is something I talk about all the time and really struggle with anything in corporate wellness. When you think of people that are trying to support these behaviors, often they end at education as I’m like I’m gonna tell you what you should do. No, the word should. It is not effective. We know it’s not effective. Anybody with children knows it’s not effective to tell somebody what they should do. The idea and where we start, really, getting these fundamental changes is when we have leaders, that whole model, not role model, whole model behavior and what the difference is there is a role model you kind of put on a pedestal. They’re so good at doing X Y Z. The whole model talks about successes and failures and kind of that whole, um, idea of inviting somebody in to do the behavior supporting that behavior. It’s a lot more than they should. So an example is often corporations will fund things like lunch and learns, and it’ll be on stress management, and that’s great for people to learn about stress management. Often it’s not really novel, new information that the person doesn’t know. If the company doesn’t then support it, that stress management that falls short here. Actually, it’s well worth and not funding that in the beginning. So you have to create an environment of social environmental work places to support the behaviors that you want to create and that that person would like to create. It’s so incredibly important. And I would say 99% of programs right now stop at I’m gonna just tell them what they should do. And then I’m gonna walk away and hope they do it.

Dr. Cooper: 11:38

That is not gonna work. This is so perfect that the coaches listening to you are just nodding their heads with a big grin on their face because that’s what they do differently. We completely agree. We just interviewed Tom Peters last week on the podcast, and we were talking about this idea that most wellness programs focused on the technology piece at the center and maybe a few people do the coaching, and the effective route is to put the coaching piece, the behavior change personalized aspect in the center and then support that with the wonderful technology that’s certainly available. And it sounds like you’re talking about the same thing. Education is great, but if we stop with the education, we’re not gonna get anywhere. People know this stuff.

Dr. Belanger: 12:19

Yeah, exactly. Like I’ll do talks on physical activity. And I say to the crowd, who here thinks that, is surprised that physical activity is good for them? Of course nobody raises their hand. This is not no, nobody’s like oh I should exercise?

Dr. Cooper 12:36

Oh, how about that? Yeah, I love it. All right. Your book inspired me. Finding motivation to take control of your health. It takes an in depth look at what motivates behavior change to promote health and wellbeing. Where their patterns that emerged as you’re doing the research on this that maybe you were surprised to see?

Dr. Belanger: 12:54

Oh, um I think a lot of it comes down to what I find fascinating is what actually flicks the switch for somebody so people could be thinking oh I should exercise always should exercise or something I should do. They might have even made a new resolution for a couple years, and it’s not sticking. And then something happens or a mind shift change, or they’re able to find these micro behaviors that they’re positive that they’re getting, ah, constant positive reinforcement from So, um, an example, a great example for me personally, I know how important meditation is. I am a massive advocate. I actually speak about mindfulness all over the world, sitting down and meditating with a dedicated practice for 20 or 30 minutes a day, which I would love to do does not work. I am, I am a triple A personality, which is why I need it. And, I’m a mover, and this is something that I find really a behavior that I know is important that I find really challenging. I do have a constant, dedicated mindfulness practice where it’s much shorter. Every single morning, I wake up and have a coffee. That’s all I do. I just have that coffee and come to my five senses, and I practice where my attention is going on what to do when my thoughts wander. And there’s a couple of the cue points during my day, so I do it every single day. But they’re smaller versions because that’s what suits my life, and I’ve gotten reward from it, and I’m good at it, so they’ll find something that just kind of clicks with them. They’re like, Oh, I can walk to work. This is great. It actually takes less time, and I don’t have to worry about parking. Okay, I’m gonna do this so trying to find and play with and be creative and it’s not necessarily going to the gym for an hour because do that, we then create this pass fail system that makes no sense for our health. So what is that thing they do to get like that? That positive feedback, that reward and that integrates into the life that you already have.

Dr. Cooper: 15:04

In terms of questions that helped spur behavior change. Do you have a few favorites that you could throw out to us that people could utilize if they’re coaching? Maybe it’s a new tool in the toolbox or just with a friend, or maybe personally, as they reflect questions to help spur that that behavior change movement.

Dr. Belanger: 15:22

What do you enjoy?

Dr. Cooper: 15:24


Dr. Belanger: 15:25

If people do not love what they’re doing, they’re not gonna do it, and it doesn’t have to be the behavior itself. It can be the reward there for, but it has to be immediate. So the thing when it’s so challenging about health behaviors is the reward. They’re all quite far in the future if we don’t focus on those immediate ones and immediate one, because there are. But you have to draw your attention to them. So one example would be I don’t love running. I am the first person to say that, but I run and I love how I feel after, the clarity that comes with that. I love the stress management that comes from that. Um and I like I do it for my sanity kind of thing, and that’s that immediate reward. There are long term rewards to that behavior, of course, but I have to draw my attention to those immediate ones. And then there’s things that I love to do. So if somebody said you have to go and play hockey on the pond every day, so Canadian,
but I would do it. I love it. And so finding that thing that they love. We often try to like tell people that this is exactly how you should do it and these air like the metrics and the heart rate you should achieve into this is all good and great and obviously scientifically valid. The problem is that person doesn’t love it. They won’t continues. It does not matter. So for people that I work with a lot of cancer survivors getting them active as an example. And often after a discussion within what they would love most to visit a friend while walking perfect, make a date go after it.

Dr. Cooper: 17:01

I really like that. I really, really like that. So the person that is saying physical activity, it just hasn’t been part of their life. And when you ask them what what do you enjoy? They say playing my computer games when I’m relaxing or binging Netflix. I don’t enjoy you and I both know there’s something out there, but how do you get, help him get past that? Well, if it’s physical, I don’t like it. Any tips on how to get across that that barrier?

Dr. Belanger: 17:33

Often why, that is, and I’m going a little deep here, but there is a reason that they just hated gym class, where they don’t like how they look in this or like there’s some deep seated teenage childhood thing about physical activity. What they think it should be. What I love about walking promotion is that almost everybody can do it and they might not enjoy is the walking. But there’s something we can add to it that they like. Audiobooks, podcasts, Netflix while they’re walking, friends, outdoors, music. There’s something around it. And the example I used is, if I put broccoli out in the middle of the room, would people eat it? Maybe. If I put broccoli and hummus or broccoli and dip. Would people eat it? More than likely. So what is your dip? What is that thing that makes you enjoy the broccoli? So what’s that thing that makes you enjoy the activity?

Dr. Cooper: 18:31

Oh, great visual. Well done. Well done. Okay, speaking of broccoli, let’s shift slightly from physical activity to something like fruits and veggies. So you say to somebody, or you don’t say to him, but they in conversation, they say, I know I should. There’s our should eat more vegetables. You know, it’s that got that bitter taste not quite as attractive as the fruit taste. I just don’t like vegetables. And so what’s the tip there? Is it things like the hummus to start with with? any suggestions because again, wonderful visual on the physical activity side. Any guidance you can give us on, say, the fueling piece?

Dr. Belanger: 19:12

Absolutely a couple of things. I want to start from the beginning because that’s something we’re just doing now. And it’s hilariously entertaining to me. I do like vegetables. So does my husband, however, is not, it’s not what we will gravitate towards first, if that’s fair like. But my son does who is three. We haven’t told them they’re healthy or good for him. He just
likes that, like this is fantastic. So he will, his favorite snack is Bell Peppers so far, which, sure have at her, which I actually have to say you you have to finish your dinner before you get more peppers, which is not a conversation that I ever thought I would have. But it’s such a big thing that he has never been told this is something he should do. It’s just been offered, and that’s I mean again this is unique to our son. I’m not saying this is validated in some way, but I do know how we feel as adults. We’re told we should do so so that kind of concept. It isn’t art. We have a dietitian that I work with at the cancer retreats they run who was like and I can’t remember what the number is like 10 or 15 whatever ways to hide vegetables. And you think it would be from kids and it’s not. It’s usually from one of the adults in the household. And there’s so many different ways, for example, something we do in our house one watch football, we’re huge NFL fans is make cauliflower hot wings because they’re delicious. And honestly, given the choice of that or anything else, I would actually take that. But it’s about finding what works for you. It’s about creating kind of. If they’re not delicious, you won’t need them to the point of if you don’t enjoy, you won’t do it. So finding things around and about vegetables that you love, so a dip, hummus, those concepts. But there’s also like I said, such interesting ways to prepare them cauliflower wings is one of them, and it’s finger food and its taste, the same as what you would have in chicken so it works nice.

Dr. Cooper: 21:20

I love that. All right, so let’s shift just a little bit in terms of audience here when you’re working with executives. What have you found to be similar or different about this subset of the population compared to maybe others you’ve worked with?

Dr. Belanger: 21:36

I tend to notice that they’re more leaned into the conversation. If it has to do with, I guess, the way that I always frame healthy raises performance. So anything you can do to support your health and wellness is going to increase your performance, your focus, your attention, your productivity and these are all metrics that they want and understand. Um, and when speaking, to executives what it almost always I’ll talk about other health behaviors. It’s nothing new either. They have all been presented in Harvard Business Review, Forbes. These are conversations that have happened, so it’s not new. It’s the mindfulness piece that they’re stuck on fascinated with but have resistance to and that’s where the conversation falls. Because, as one executive said to me, I actually and where I am because of my ability to strategize for the future and to learn from the past, Why would I want to be present? And I thought that was such a you’re right. Absolutely. You’re right. You have benefited from your ability to do both The idea is that you can still do that, but your picking and choosing the most productive, important times to do that it is not while you’re trying to get to sleep at night. It is not ruminating, it’s with purpose. So if you’re able to control where your attention is going, so that’s where you see the advantage and then not bringing in your past meeting. So the meeting you’re stepping into or a hard conversation with your spouse and then stepping into a budget meeting. So that’s where it comes around and for longevity, because a lot of us can do this crazy work hours. Um, for a short period of time. Where’s the longevity with the leadership executive position that you have and how do you create that? So I feel like again, it’s something the conversation that they’re leaning into. There’s more discussion around in business literature in HR. But how do you get it so that they can kind of shift mindset to say this is actually a performance enhancer if you will, um, and again, we often focus on the house benefits of our health behaviors, but those are really futuristic goals. They’re not immediate. So what are those immediate things that you can put forward?

Dr. Cooper: 23:52

That’s fantastic, fantastic. And that aligns with some of the research we’ve done as well. So very, very well done. Similar question, but just slightly off. Do you alter your approach, specifically your approach, when you’re working with executives, entrepreneurs, for example, you’re more direct or you’re less direct. And then any research that supports that differing approach that you’re aware of?

Dr. Belanger: 24:14

No, that’s a really fantastic question. I don’t think I can answer from the research perspective, but I can from the anecdotal side. Now what I’m dealing with entrepreneurs and executive, the hardest challenge for them is going to be understanding that they should take breaks. Misconception of breaks. Um so I do a lot of researcher on burn out and how we effectively disconnect from work and stress and what are effective breaks. And so what entrepreneurs will often spit back at me is I love what I do. So I also worked crazy hours and long time and like, Why do I need to take a break? And what I and same with executives. But when they think of break, they think of this big, like a vacation, right, and that’s great. I’m not saying they don’t also have their purpose. But when I think about breaks for performance, they’re actually during your day. And what entrepreneurs often do is actually have a little bit of that already. And it’s just a matter of honing it because they have complete autonomy over their schedules. So I guess they have to work long hours. But typically they’re able to choose when those hours are, and that’s incredibly beneficial. From a health perspective, we’ve seen that it decreases burn out, decreases stress, but they’re also not great at putting the bag down if you like the analogy of just like putting work down for a second and conclusively shifting into something else on, and I’m gonna come back to my insolence of calling attention management for the time. But that’s where that can really really help them, or knowing and looking at the literature that going for a run is actually going to increase your project productivity, not decrease it. So we often think, Oh, that’s time away from working. Doing that’s gonna have a detrimental effect on what I’m producing and that’s not the case. I just did a literature review of breaks during the work day and every single break except social media breaks increased or remain neutral on productivity and mental well being.

Dr. Cooper: 26:18

Is that right? The one, that I would love to see that once it’s ready.

Dr. Belanger: 26:22

I’m working on it.

Dr. Cooper: 26:23

That’s awesome. Fantastic, good choice.

Dr. Belanger: 26:27

And the one that had the most positive benefit, the break that like the what they were doing during the break that have the most positive was actually nature. Being out in natural environments. So it kind of when people can see the data, especially when they’re data driven this becomes useful when you’re coaching, or talking to them trying to convince them.

Dr. Cooper: 26:45

Well, yeah, because that was gonna be my next question. But you, I think you partially answered it is they get that. They’re listening to you. They said they’ll nod their head on. Instead of saying they all say, because I have that same struggle. If I don’t get my exercise opportunity and in the morning it doesn’t happen because I feel too bad pulling away at lunchtime in the afternoon or whatever so and I’m like you true believer, like I get it and I still don’t. I’m still not willing to pull away. And so that kind of data is hugely valuable. Any other tips for that person? That is just you just it’s not time to take a break. I’ve got to go hard until this time, and then I’ll finally shut it down for the day.

Dr. Belanger: 27:28

So there’s there’s some literature here, too. I’m just gonna put this kind of, uh, looking back your head. You should if you’re working on something really hard and it’s semi creative, which most knowledge work is, it’s actually best to stop in the middle of it. Go do something else and insights will come. Okay, so, like there’s there’s actually, like some information demonstrating that this actually works in your favor in order to actually get away when you need to. If it’s not right first thing in the morning, I totally relate to that. And I’ve gotten used to either making commitments to other people, making commitments to the class is personal trainers, things like that to pull myself away because if I know I’m paying for it, I’ll be there. Most executives, they’re the exact same, it costs me money if I don’t go. Okay, fine. I’ll go. Um, so that’s a really big one. Having alarms something to put it away or are telling yourself, You know what? I’ll just go for five minutes, so I don’t want to do my full 30 minute walk, but my dog’s looking at me funny. I’ll go for five minutes and see how you feel at the end of five minutes because usually just getting yourself out the door great, actually pulling away from work. It’s not the length of the activity.

Dr. Cooper: 28:42

Good. Okay, so another one your books strive to survive looks at it actually provides exercise and activity guidance for the young cancer survivors. So the 18 to 39 year old are there a few core tips from that book you could share with the audience who may either be in that situation or close to someone who is within this group?

Dr. Belanger: 29:00

What I found the most fascinating from all the research, you know, physical activity is great for them. Yeah, of course, it’s great for everybody, you know, like it’s so important and obviously decreases all these risk factors that they currently have after they go through cancer and treatment. The thing of the king you need to that group is they wanted to be involved in community activities. So whether that’s yoga classes whether that’s, you know, ultimate Frisbee, whatever it is, they want it to be owning community. But in order to get there, a lot of them had to work on their strength and, you know, physical endurance that they’ve lost over the period of time. So having a knowledgeable person just take them through that first workout weights cardio in order to get them to that goal be known in the community. And then when we saw it in the community, which I just think it’s fascinating that community sports and those that were not married had so much social support from their community sports league, they would lift those as number one.

Dr. Cooper: 30:02


Dr. Belanger: 30:03

It’s just this effective, that age group where your peers can be the most supportive people. So much as we’re saying, Go do this for your physical health. There’s a whole element of support that happens with physical activity groups that I think is really important on what we’re doing on the charity now. that is across Canada is we’re launching a walking support group so very different from a normal cancer support group where it is meeting up for walks bi weekly, um, with this idea, even talked about cancer or not for cancer survivors and their support people. And it’s amazing the difference of support that you receive shoulder to shoulder, as if you’re walking with somebody versus across the table, especially for men. So there’s a whole psychology around this to that, yes, physical activities obviously incredibly important. I’m a huge fan, but what I did the elements that are producing and able to produce health effects from that engagement. So that is what came out from that. The research that supports the book that I created.

Dr. Cooper: 31:11

Wonderful, wonderful. Just two more, you touched on this one. But I’m gonna come back to you just in case you have anything else you wanna throw out turning the mirror around. So in your life you talked about the mindfulness piece and what you’ve done to adjust that from the 30 minutes to the throughout the day. But how are you applying some of these insights in your own health and wellness journey right now? Not on something you figured out. So I’m not looking for and here’s how I figure it out in my life. I’m looking for more you know what, Brad? I’m kind of struggling in this one, and here’s kind of well, I’m applying it, but I’m not there yet.

Dr. Belanger: 31:43

Yes, I will. No, I will not be one clean perfection in any of these areas. But I am a scientist. So I want to explore these things, things that I’m starting with right now. I love physical activity. You don’t have to convince me to do it but there are some barriers that I have that I’m not used to in my way. One, I have a two month old baby she wants and needs things all the time. So it’s not like I can just I don’t have the freedom to create the schedule that I used to be able to. The other barrier is it’s cold where I live right now, which I don’t know how to leave the house with a baby when it’s this cold. So there’s these barriers that I’ve never had before for physical activity. So what I did is I’m somebody that advocates for behavior change cooperation over competition 100% if you want sustainable behavior change, it is about cooperating with others, creating groups, not people competing against each other. In saying that I’m bringing my rules right now. My husband and I are most the most competitive people you’ll ever meet. Um, so I have challenged him to a step challenge that I literally can do around the house if I need to, or go to the gym and go on the treadmill like whatever and we’re getting really creative on this. Truth is, it’s quite it has to be quite cooperative to like if I’m going
to the gym, he has to take the children so they’re still it can’t be spontaneous. But it’s for the trip that we go to in 2021 our first trip. He wants to go to Hawaii, I want to go to Paris and we’re so competitive and it’s actually working out well, way better for him than me, which
I did not expect. So it’s playing around with that a little bit and seeing what we love what we love to do. But the great thing is, and again because we worked either going to Hawaii, or Paris, these are both great options. We will be like, let’s go for a walk after dinner. Where do you want me to take the kids so he can go to the gym. Because you’re low on stuff like so there’s a cooperative element as well. The one thing that I would say that why this works so well for us is, um, naturally, my husband’s a lot less active than I am, and that becomes challenging because, like I said, your social environment, so much of how we behave. So if he says it’s actually sit and lunch football, that’s the easier choice that you’re like, no, I want to go do this activity, right? So that’s one of the reasons it is working out so far for us on, like I said, kind of better for him than me. But that’s some playing around with right now. I’m looking at the cooperation competition version of how it works differently for everybody because we have different personalities. We just happen to be incredibly competitive people.

Dr. Belanger: 34:26

And then the other thing is, how do you totally disconnect from work and stress when you’re an entrepreneur? An academic with two small children, and I thought I was doing an okay job. But like I said, I was saying to you before the call I recently went to New Jersey, for a course without my children. For two days, I was showering, and about halfway through the shower, I realized for the first time there was no little hands going under the door. I wasn’t checking on the baby, wasn’t listening up for her. And I actually was like, you know, like, breathe out that this is actually it’s right now this is, you know, your your opportunity. So how do you ensure you do that when you’re a caregiver, which whatever that looks like and have a job that you can’t necessarily check in and check out of which is most of us. Um, I’m terrible at it. And so this is really where I’m pushing myself right now on how you can be creative to do it. Um, and how to make sure that I do it. We all need it. So I can’t simply say I’m not a mother. I don’t take that, You know, that’s not how brains work. So how do you make sure you get it right.

Dr. Cooper: 35:35

All right. Well, keep me updated on the notes. Maybe I can get some more tips from because I struggle in the same way. Such great stuff. Last question. Just wide open, any final words of wisdom that you’d like to share with those who were either trying to help other folks with their health and wellness or simply trying to improve their own lives in that way?

Dr. Belanger: 35:54

One of the biggest things lessons learned through working with executives, mainly. But everybody would say, is there is no pass fail, the way we communicate with ourselves often is that idea of well I tried to go the gym and I didn’t for today. So I guess I’m not doing it now. What? No, there’s not this black and white thinking. We really have to shift how we speak to ourselves when it comes to health behaviors. My example to this. If anybody has kids, been around kids seen kids ever. If you are working with the kid to learn to walk, and then that first stage where they’re wobbling around, you get down low and use this incredibly annoying voice and you’re like, moms do it. You’re amazing. Let’s go! Can you imagine if we talk to them in the way we talked to ourselves where they’ve fallen? We’re like, Well, you might as well stay there. I guess you’re not a walker.

Dr. Cooper: 36:48


Dr. Belanger: 36:49

Of course not exactly. Of course, we would never do that. But we do it with us all the time. So developing, you know, like if you want to call it a growth mindset or whatever it is, but just getting rid of that idea of black and white, you failed because you didn’t do once or twice or three times. No, every moment, a new opportunity to do it every day is and if it doesn’t work, figure out something that works with in your life. So stop trying to reach for those ideals of. I want to do an hour of the gym every day. Calm down, Okay? Like what would work in your life? Let’s go for that.

Dr. Cooper: 37:27

This is so good. How can folks keep track of what you’re doing and stay in touch with you? Do you have a Twitter account or a website you’d like to send him to?

Dr. Belanger: 37:34

Absolutely follow Dr. Lisa Belanger on Twitter and Instagram. There’s a whole bunch of things I’m doing that here that I think your audience will be very keen on. Um and you’ll be keen on including a new book and, uh, next month, my two month old daughter, three months old, and my husband and I are going to the Scandinavian countries to talk to them about how they take breaks. So there’s gonna be a really interesting cultural element to these things that you know, you know, I just discussed people have trouble with.

Dr. Cooper: 38:07

Very good, Very good, Dr. Belanger. So appreciate it. Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Belanger: 38:11

Thank you.

Dr. Cooper: 38:20

Looking at social and physical environments considering whole models rather than just role models. Starting with what do you enjoy as the first question in one of my own personal mottos. Avoid the shoulds. Thank you again to Dr. Lisa Belanger for joining us today. Such a practical approach to making the most of our lives and helping those around us to the same thing. It’s what we talk about all the time here. I love what she said about how most employee wellness programs falls short, stopping at the education and missing out on the key behavior change opportunities. Obviously, that’s our specialty. If we can help you on that front within your organization, reach out to me personally. Email is Dr. Belanger wrapped this up by reminding us that health and wellness isn’t a pass fail situation. Instead, every moment is a new opportunity. Let’s make the most of those moments we have today. Thanks, as always, for joining us. This is Dr Bradford Cooper signing off. Make it a great rest of your day and I’ll speak with you soon on the next episode of the Catalyst Health, Wellness and Performance Podcast.