Train the Brain, Shed the Weight
Weight loss is an integration of science and math. The same goes for weight gain. The math of calories consumed and burned works in synchronicity with the science of hormones determining when calories are used and stored. But if weight balance was as easy as pie, people wouldn’t have such trouble resisting another piece of pie. What is it that tinkers with such a simple equation? The brain, oddly enough.
The brain is like Tinkerbell from Peter Pan – a powerful manipulator. It winds its way into your decisions, telling you what to eat, when, and why. It can whisper sweet nothings into your ear, making otherwise clear equations blurry. Some people make the choice to lose weight, they change their eating patterns, and never look back. Others fight the weight battle for years, forever influenced by Tinkerbell’s sweet talk.
People who successfully lose weight have increased activation in brain areas of visual attention and self-control.” says Dan Hurley, author of My Brain Made Me Eat It. Opposite to this, he found that larger girls needed more food to elevate dopamine levels. Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter that makes one “feel good”. Is the brain to blame for weight gain? Studies would say it plays the biggest part. If so, then the question becomes, can the brain be trained?
Dr. Judith Beck, author of The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person, says that the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain can indeed be trained through practice, and that these efforts are critical to long term weight loss success. The following are a few skills and habits that, if worked on with diligence will ward off the taunting Tinkerbell.
Exercises for a trained brain, not weight gain
1) Motivate yourself. Why do you want to lose weight or improve your fitness? List the reasons, clearly and specifically, and make sure that they are truly important to you. Be able to visualize what you life will be like once you have altered the habits that are hindering you.
2) Plan ahead. Being organized is critical to success. This means having the right foods in the fridge, snacks prepared, and meals easy to assemble. It also means bringing food with you whenever you are going to be out or in a place where it is tricky to find proper fueling food.
3) Beat hunger. Having level blood sugar at all times ensures that cortisol and insulin are kept in check. This means eating by the clock initially, before you are hungry and before cravings kick in. This entails eating small, frequent meals that contain protein and unsaturated fats with VERY moderate amounts of glucose-dense carbohydrates.