Easy methods to Prime your Mind for Weight Loss this Spring

How to Prime your Brain for Weight Loss this Spring_2

How To Prepare Your Brain For Weight Loss This Spring

Have you heard of the prefrontal cortex or amygdala? When I first heard about these parts of the brain, I was intrigued. I noticed its importance in relation to weight loss as both are largely responsible for my behavior, emotions, and even my stress response.

Your activity (or underactivity) helped explain why I kept failing weight loss in my 20s. A lot of the decisions I made – about sleep and stress – actually had a negative impact on these areas of my brain. This in turn would affect my ability to make good food and exercise choices.

Preparing our brains for weight loss is critical to success.

After all, our brain acts as the central hub for all of our decisions and habits that determine whether or not we are at a healthy weight.

What exactly is the PFC?

The prefrontal cortex (or PFC) is the cerebral cortex that covers the front part of the frontal lobe of our brain. This brain region is responsible for Planning, expression of personality, decision making and moderation of social behavior.

The basic activity of the PFC is seen as orchestrating thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals (in other words, it's really the rational part of our brain). The PFC is able to consider the long-term consequences of our decisions rather than doing things spontaneously. When we have these conflicting thoughts about whether or not to eat, it is our PFC that is at play.

The PFC is responsible for willpower and control allows us to suppress the urge to eat unhealthy foods.

And what is the amygdala?

The amygdala is part of the limbic system, which is located deep in the brain at the end of the hippocampus. Their function is to react and remember emotions, especially fear. That way, it's our emotional control center.

It is Central to controlling our fear response and how much stress we experience in our daily life.

Fun fact: Studies have been done in which researches inserted a thin wire into the rats' brains to remove their amygdalas. After this procedure, the rats did not seem to be afraid of anything, including cats. The removal of the amygdala had even robbed the rats of their memory of fear, so they didn't seem to be afraid at all (which would be nice, but maybe a little dangerous!).

How can I prepare these parts of the brain to be successful in losing weight?

It is clear how important the prefrontal cortex and amygdala are to weight loss. But now we need to know how to influence or shape them so that they play in our favor.

5 Ways To Prepare Your Brain For Weight Loss This Spring

1. Dealing with stress: People who are exposed to repeated stressors show reduced volume and connections of the frontal lobe to other brain regions. In this way, stress literally changes our brains. While it is usually difficult to quickly change the circumstances of our lives (such as a job we hate, relationship problems, or financial stress), we can learn to change the effects they have on us (and our brains) .

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can offer a new perspective on our situation that allows us to regain control, reduce the intense physiological and emotional symptoms, and develop effective strategies that help us deal with stressful situations more safely and easily. Click here to find an accredited therapist near you.

2. Seek help with your depression: If you are depressed, it is important to address it as soon as possible. This can mean seeing a therapist or, in some cases, taking medication. While you might not feel like doing it, research has also shown that daily exercise (especially outdoors) can be as effective as antidepressants, so it's worth spending a few weeks trying to see for yourself if it has any effects.

Interestingly, research has shown that people suffering from depression tend to have underactive PFCs and also less volume in this area, which means that it is actually more difficult for depressed people to engage in positive goal-oriented thoughts and behaviors. This makes it extremely difficult for depressed individuals to successfully complete a weight loss program.

If, if we are motivated, we find depression in the monthly questionnaire on the mental weight of a client, we will discuss the issue with him and suggest that he see a qualified psychotherapist. For more information, please contact the Irish Counseling and Psychotherapy Association.

3. Sleep better: We all know how irritable and grumpy we can get with sleep deprivation, but did you also know that it disrupts certain connections in your brain that are important in preventing emotional eating?

Researchers have found that sleep deprivation breaks the link between the amygdala and PFC. Sleep deprivation appears to cause the amygdala to overreact to negative stimuli as it becomes separated from brain regions like the PFC that normally moderate its response. This means that when we are deprived of sleep, we are less emotionally "stable" and more likely to react negatively to situations. This can often lead to binge eating or eating disorders for emotional reasons.

Another reason to ban screens just before bed. Read Michael's great blog about sleep here.

4. Start meditation: When stress and poor sleep are affecting our PFCs, meditation must be the best antidote for both. Practicing mindfulness can improve PFC activation, which is closely linked to increased well-being and decreased anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation was defined by Jon-Kabat Zinn ("the father of mindfulness") as "the ability to give full attention to the present moment without being aware of internal and / or external experiences". Mindfulness meditation has been shown to decrease activity in the amygdala (which means less stress, anxiety, and depression), and some studies have shown that after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation, the amygdala actually does decrease in size (and participants report it does too feeling less stressed).

Several studies have also shown that regular meditation can improve PFC function, resulting in greater emotional stability and lower reactivity (which could mean better willpower and the ability to consistently choose healthier foods). Read more about how meditation can help you lose weight here.

5. Exercise more often: We all know that exercise makes us feel better. However, did you know that the more you stick to your healthy eating plan prepares your brain? The left and right halves of the PFC appear to be more connected in response to constant aerobic exercise.

Research by Basso et al. (2015) also found that a single bout of high-intensity exercise (50 minutes on a stationary bike) improved higher-order cognitive processes in the PFC such as strategy and planning. However, these positive effects can also be achieved by simply walking for 30 minutes a day.

So it's not just about exercising to burn calories (in fact, let's just agree we are leaving this aside for now). Exercising regularly also trains your brain to stick to the motivational program you are following – now it has to be worth a whole lot! If you want to be even more convincing, read on.


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