Friday, March 19, 2010
I am still reading Martha Beck's book (and btw, she has a diet book too, which I brought home from the library yesterday - I'll get back with title info later today)
And in it she focuses a lot on the Lizard Brain - the amygdala - which is a primitive part of the brain that prompts the emotional reactions of fight, flight, eat and procreate. She calls it the "lack or attack" part of the brain. It's an essential part of our survival, though it was far more important when we lived in caves and were likely to have to compete with bears or tigers for a favorable lease. While it's still essential to our survival, if we place too much dependency on it in nowadays, it can really ruin our lives.
It's crafty, too, about adapting to its environment. You are not likely to get attacked by a tiger today, but you might be daunted by a task at work that you're not quite sure how to accomplish. Or you may dread doing your taxes. As you feel the deadline approach, you'll feel more threatened so old lizard brain might just start shrieking in your subconscious "run! Run! RUN!" In other words - that is where procrastination comes from. That which you fear you flee - till it catches you anyway. Like a work deadline. Like April 15.
And, being part of the brain, which rewires to get more efficient about paying attention to what it is we focus on, the more we listen to it, the more we'll procrastinate or quarrel with people. That underlying impulse that tells us we're under attack AND about to run out of food immediately will thrum all day long. So - if you are like me - and you had a daunting task to accomplish this week - and you put it off till THURSDAY! because you were listening to your lizard brain - you might also snack around the place, derailing your weight loss efforts.
Because our lizard brains are where our mindless, emotional eating comes from.
And Ms. Beck says the first step in quieting your lizard brain is to name it - to even get yourself some sort of talisman or doll or piece of jewellery and call it by that name - so that when you are spiraling into fight or flight or overeating behavior you can have a little chat with your lizard brain. Calm it down. Assure it that there is plenty of food, no threat of being devoured and not really any place it needs to hide.
As for the procreation part - well - there. I am sure in that case, it's just a matter of being discrete with your appropriate partner.
May you calm your inner lizard and have a glorious weekend.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Ever wonder who those "scientists" are when you hear something that begins "Scientists have shown ....."?
Well, I tracked down the one who showed us this one and his name is Donald Hebb.
Or perhaps I should say he is the one who showed the way for other scientists to prove it and their work is based upon his seminal thesis, known as the Hebb Synapse
"When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite a cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A's efficiency, as one of the cells firing B is increased."
In short - this is the guy who showed us that if we think different thoughts our brains become different - will rewire themselves. So we really do need to think like a healthy fit person as often as we possibly can. We need to see ourselves doing the things a fit healthy person does and feeling about ourselves the way a fit healthy person feels about herself so that our brain can become the brain of a fit healthy person.
I've suspected this all along - that I have to believe what I want is possible and then "see" it in my imagination in order to get there. And that takes time out of my routine. Time in addition to meal tracking and exercise and shopping for healthy food and reading labels. It takes quiet thoughtful time and ... it's the easiest time to shortchange because it looks like, seems like, sounds like daydreaming.
And that is because IT IS! I've been reading Martha Beck's book Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life, No Matter What!
and she's filled it with lots of exercises to do to help you start thinking like the person you want to be. She's aimed this at people who are far more dissatisfied with their lives than I am, but there are still nuggets throughout the book that are useful for me. It was her quote about cells firing and rewiring that got me to look a little deeper into the scientific literature. It was also that quote that reinforced my own belief that if I go to my thin self often enough in my mind, I'll eventually get to my thin self in actuality - and stay there - at last, and forever.
So - let us all become brain electricians and see just how much fun we can have with our new wiring systems!
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