Have you ever wondered why it is so challenging to stick to a diet? You know what foods you are supposed to eat and avoid, but you just can’t do it. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you think about quitting your job to become an artist, writer or entrepreneur. You REALLY want to do those things, in the same way you REALLY want to be in better shape. But, you can never say no to the dessert menu and will never tell your boss to shove it.
What’s worse, the foods that we long for are the same ones that can shorten our lifespan.
But, why? Foods that contain the intoxicating combination of salt, sugar and fat our brain release pleasure chemicals like dopamine, some of the same chemicals that are released during sex. As a result, like you may have noticed, eating junk feels good. Unfortunately, dopamine can also override our ability to stop eating when we are satisfied. This is our brain letting us down. We become so overwhelmed by the chocolate volcano with fudge lava that our brain never sends us the signal to put the fork down and walk away.
Even when we start to get full it’s too late. Our brain has already switched into prehistoric survival mode. It says, go ahead and eat as much as possible. That’s because there was a time when the source of our next meal was unknown. Except now, we don’t have to track and kill our food; it’s waiting for us at a drive-thru window.
Let me get this straight, you want me to pick-up and put down various weights, over and over again? Or, I could run? Am I going somewhere, is my car broken? No? The whole idea is to become tired, sweaty and sore? Sounds like fun, sign me up! Better yet, it’s not enough to do this just one time; we have to multiple times a week. FOREVER! All the while, our brain is telling us that we are too tired or too busy to make it happen. We’ll go later, tomorrow or next week. Our brain is actively trying to make us fat and lazy. How can we outsmart our own mind in an attempt to do something we don’t want to do in the first place? Come on brain, whose side are you on anyway?
This form of sabotage is also pervasive in our day-to-day lives outside of exercise and eating. Fear and procrastination keep us from taking action to transform our habits and happiness. Why is it that when we crave salt and sugar our brain is happy to give us more than we need? But, when we crave meaning and purpose, we choose comfort instead?
It’s simple really. Doing something new, different or dangerous is a risk. You want to stand out, break free and do something you believe in, your brain wants you to be afraid. If you were to conform to social norms, i.e. college, job, house, marriage, kids; you become part of the pack. There’s strength in numbers. But, when you set out on your own, separated from the pack, you are vulnerable. Your brain thinks that is a bad idea.
But, you’re not alone. It’s actually in our DNA. There was a time, not that long ago, when the purpose of each day was to make it to the next day. That’s why our brain wants us to be boring; it’s trying to ensure survival. It’s a defense mechanism.
Thankfully, we live in a different world. The goal is to thrive, not survive. Yes, along the way to a better body, you are going to be confronted by Resistance. And, in an attempt to be awesome, not boring, you are going to be scared to death. Heck, as we’ve seen, your own brain will try to talk you out of it.
But, know this; once you get the eating, exercise and everything else lined up with what you truly want out of this life, your brain and all of its baggage will take a backseat. You will have cracked the code. The energy, enthusiasm and confidence that you’ve harnessed will allow you to do anything; regardless of how boring or fat your brain would prefer you to be.
Is your brain sabotaging your attempts to become a badass? You don’t have to take it. Are you going to be awesome or boring; fit or fat? The choice is yours. Take that brain!