Monday, 7 January 2019

New Year, New You?

Oh yes, it's that time of year again. Join the gym, overhaul your diet, make all those resolutions - this time, this year, it will be different and I will succeed!

Will you? Or will you end up a few more weeks down the line feeling a failure, yet again. In this blog and the next few blogs, I want to give you some help so that this year is the year you make the changes you want to make.

Blog Number One - How our brains are wired

Give yourself a break. You are not a failure because you cannot stick to all your resolutions. You are simply going about it the wrong way and setting yourself up for failure.

You need to understand what drives us as humans and how to work with our brains to get what we really want.

Our brains haven't evolved much since we were cavemen.  We were able to use lots of energy to hunt and gather when motivated by hunger and rewarded by pleasure receptors in the brain.  All very useful 10 000 years ago. Not so much now. The hunger craving is very easy to satisfy and our pleasure receptors are in overdrive. So we repeat and overeat the highly palatable food we have available. (Because, of course, manufacturers are very much aware of how to manipulate our brain chemistry!)

Which is why (even though you said you wouldn't) you find yourself opening the biscuit packet, buying the chocolate bar and eating that doughnut.  You are not a failure and you are not lacking in motivation. You are simply human and immediate gratification will always (pretty much) override your long term plans. It is the way we are wired.

So, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try (you should) and that all is lost. Understanding how we are wired is the first step to trying to change things.  First of all, remove the temptations. Get the highly palatable stuff out of your cupboards. Remove and avoid those foods that you know you will overeat and have no control around. Now you know why you have no control. This is not forever, this is just for now, while we rewire our pleasure receptors and change our habits. You will not be able to control every environment you are in but control the ones you can. Make it easier on yourself.

In the next blog, I'll go further with this but small steps create big results. Go slowly and the changes will stick.  This is your first step, identify those foods that you will eat mindlessly (because your brain chemistry has over-ridden your willpower) and avoid them as much as possible.

Good luck.

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