It has now been acknowledged that the largest slimming organ is the brain. Yes – the brain! The brain controls our behaviour and how we think. The brain releases hormones that either make us gain weight or lose weight. It is not just about the food we eat.
So how does the brain work?
The conscious mind is the thinking part of ourselves. It sets goals, makes decisions and interprets experiences. It’s also what we’re aware of as our ‘mind chatter’ – the constant commentary going on in our heads.
The subconscious mind is the part of ourselves beneath our conscious awareness that actually keeps us alive and running. It’s what keeps our heart pumping, our lungs expanding and our hair growing. All these actions are handled subconsciously through what’s known as our autonomic nervous system. The number one priority of the subconscious mind is our survival – physical, emotional and psychological. And because survival is instinctively our primary goal, the subconscious is much more powerful than the conscious.
That’s why the subconscious mind plays a powerful role in dictating our behaviour: it protects our psychological and emotional wellbeing. That’s why sometimes we consciously think we want one thing, but still end up doing something else. Wanting to lose weight is a classic example. You set a clear goal for yourself and for the first three weeks you eat well and exercise regularly. Then something and you find you’re simply not able to keep up the eating and exercise regime. The reason for this is that the subconscious mind isn’t on board with the conscious mind.
Early this century, neuroscientists made a startling discovery: our brains are not hard-wired at all. Our brains are constantly changing in response to what we do, what we think, how we feel and how we behave. We can grow new cells (neurons) in our brains and create new circuits between them. We are not passive victims of our genes. We play an active role in how our brains develop throughout our lives. Our thoughts, emotions and actions determine the types of signals the brain sends out to the rest of the body. This ability of the brain to change is known as NEUROPLASTICITY. The word is coined from “neuron” meaning brain cell and “plastic” meaning malleable or able to be moulded. It is the greatest and most far-reaching discovery in over 1000 years, not just this century.
So many people feel like a failure when it comes to being in control of their weight. That’s not the case. Your body is doing what it is programmed to do and nothing will change until you change the programming. Bad habits are an example of how we have programmed our brains through repetition and which dictate how we behave. This allows us to do things automatically and without thinking. However, we can retrain our brain to respond differently to certain triggers, so that we can change our bad habits and form new, good habits forever.
There are 5 factors that influence the brain:
- Your actions: These refer to the things you do and how you behave, e.g. eating, exercising, sleeping, working and daily habits
- Your thoughts: These include your beliefs, attitudes, intentions, aspirations, day dreams, memories, self talk and mind chatter
- Your emotions: These are the core drivers of all our decisions and actions and are even more powerful in changing the brain than our thoughts.
- Your physical environment: Fast cars, fast food, fast living, online shopping, using computers and games, processed food, lack of exercise, all promote the obesogenic environment
- Your social and cultural environment
How we grew up and what attitudes to food affect our behaviour around food today, eg granny making you eat all your food, social events promoting the consumption of vast amounts of food, socialising around eating out – rather than just a coffee, being teased at school for your weight, praise for finishing your food. Food is linked to extremes of pleasure and pain, such as eating at a wedding or a funeral.
By learning to control your thoughts and emotions, you can in turn switch on your slimming signals and switch off your sabotaging signals. This is called neuroslimming.
By repeatedly thinking in a particular way, builds new circuits in the brain and weakens old patterns of behaviour. Your thoughts actually change the way your body operates. You have the power to change your metabolic rate, burn excess fat, feel more energetic and most important, your junk food cravings will disappear.
By consciously choosing your thoughts and actions you can rewire the brain. By creating an emotional, social and physical environment that supports your success, you can stimulate changes to your brain.
Cambridge Weight Plan now have the program to help you rewire your brain whilst losing weight, to help you keep it off.