The Superhero Diet: Restructuring the Brain
Friday, August 01, 2008
When I was 27 years old, I coined the term "The Superhero Diet" while trying out for the police force. I also call it the GOYA Diet... "Get Off Your Assets," and it's all about mindset.
Really, that's the key to it all. Yes, exercise matters... a lot. Yes, diet matters... a lot. Then you have those supplements and that meditation and how you change your cooking techniques to be just a bit healthier. But, overall, it's how you change your thinking, switching from the person who would rather sit on the couch and eat creamy desserts to the person who takes great joy in moving her body and great satisfaction in knowing that, yet again, she chose her body over that doughnut. Becoming the person who wants to be able to do anything, at any time, and never have to say, "I can't."
I hear overweight people say all the time, "At least I'll die happy." Is that happiness? Creamy desserts? If you switch your mindset, can you also find happiness in being active and being able to keep up with your children, and knowing you have the self-discipline to pass up temptation? I remember when I was in the "die happy" mindset. It wasn't that long ago. Say... a couple of months ago. But, though I took satisfaction in the feel of that dessert on my tongue and the subsequent sugar rush, that was about all I took satisfaction in. Each bite was coupled with guilt, because I knew I should do better. Then it was shame, because I didn't have the self-discipline to turn that dessert down. And how about my levels of dopamine and seratonin? If you want to get technical, there's the connection to happiness. By eating that fatty dessert, I was lowering my epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, and even my cortisone levels, but I really wasn't doing much to raise my feel-good hormones. Fatty desserts only do it for a short time, and then the sympathetic nervous system rushes back in full force. Exercise keeps the endocrine system going all day and keeps those hormones at the right levels. Exercise is happiness.
When you're in the right mindset, you find every opportunity to make yourself better. Recently, I went to a discount sporting goods store and found a set of "walk yourself fit" weights for $20. I don't often use the hand weights, since doing so while giving massages would guarantee no repeat clients, but I wear the leg weights daily. Each weight is one pound and straps around my ankle with velcro. Just a pound. But it feels like I'm walking through sand, and each step I take requires twice the effort. The first day I wore them, I took them off at the end of the day and crawled into bed. Exhausted. Now that my body has adjusted to them, I take additional opportunities to exercise. While I'm standing in the line at the grocery store, I raise one leg just above the ground. With the weights on, I'm then working the quadriceps and adductors of the raised leg and the abductors of my weight-bearing leg, primarily my gluteus medius. And though I've burned just a couple more calories, it's that... a couple more calories. When nobody is watching, I'll do a few side kicks, very very slowly. Lift knee laterally, pause. Extend leg, pause. Flex knee, pause. Lower leg, pause. Rinse and repeat. Twenty seconds equals ten side kicks, and... a few more calories burned.
Then there are the food choices. This is a tough one for me, considering I have admitted to an addiction to simple carbohydrates and the blood sugar rush that comes along with them. It's easiest to avoid these foods when I follow the Superhero Diet.
Ok, back to that part about trying out for the police force. I was the only girl that tried out, and five guys were disqualified before I was. When it got to the vertical jump, I failed by two inches. Dang. While walking back to my car, I decided that I would try again, but I would be even better. I formulated the "Superhero Diet," which basically means that every food choice must give me the maximum amount of nutrition possible for the cost/amount. What good is a doughnut going to do me? It costs the same as an entire bag of carrots and has absolutely no nutrients. You can't even count it as a grain group when it does your body more harm than good.
Did I ever make it onto the police force? No. By reorganizing my thinking to the Superhero Diet, I considered the priorities to my family and decided that I needed to be a mother foremost, and police work was not the right choice for me. But whenever I follow the Superhero Diet and try to get the most out of every single choice I make, both my body and my mind thank me. I'm in charge. I can do anything.