Train Your Brain - Why Your Mind is Your Most Powerful Fitness Tool
Everybody has struggled with it. Even the great biblical writer Paul lamented over our human frailty when it comes to sticking with plans, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Our good intentions and following through with them is a daily – even minute-by-minute challenge for every person.
Think that you are having more trouble convincing yourself to get in shape than everyone else? Think again. Even the most accomplished athletes need to train their brains to achieve peak success.
Our 3 part series on Brain Training will give you specific ways to target your most important fitness tool – your brain. We know that mental stimulation improves brain function. But what about willpower? Can we increase this valuable and often fleeting resource by putting it to work the same way we can make our brains stronger by learning a foreign language or forsaking a calculator?
The answer is YES.
Our series will look at the myths and effects of willpower and habit. Understanding how your brain controls your discipline, impulse control and daily performance will give you a blueprint to change your fitness path.
MEET YOUR BRAIN
Your brain is a super highway of interconnected nerve cells that coordinate thought, emotion, behavior, movement and sensation. At 3 pounds, the human brain may not be the biggest – that distinction goes to the sperm whale whose brain weighs in at 18 pounds – but it does corner the market on intelligence.
Tucked inside your skull is a magnificent organ that controls every movement, function and spurt of energy that your body produces throughout its decades of life. While it’s not a muscle, the brain does tend to perform like one. You can actually build your brain’s strength in various areas by repetitive exercises.
When you talk about willpower and discipline, these are functions that the brain has in limited supply. It is in the constant practice of these skills that builds your brain’s ability to sustain them over time.
The challenge we face as humans is that our brains are also designed to pick-up the smallest of distractions. A recent Entrepreneur Magazine article summed up our brain’s hard wiring this way:
"Distractions signal that something has changed," says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). "A distraction is an alert that says, 'Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.'" The brain's reaction is automatic and virtually unstoppable.”
So we’re equipped with a super-computer that is basically on the lookout for anything that could threaten its survival. How does a person trying to become dedicated to a fitness routine harness this over-attentive machine?
First, realize that just like building your biceps through some hammer curls you can increase your brain’s ability to keep you coming back for more training sessions. The fitness tool in your head supersedes any fitness tool or equipment that you’ll ever find in a gym but it is the one that you must nurture and challenge the most consistently.
Over the course of our series we will show you why your brain tends to lose focus and how you can get it back on track. You’ll learn specific ways to manage your brain’s energy, boost its health and provide rejuvenation for the hardest working part of your body.
As we explore this miraculous fitness tool, here are some things you can do today to prepare your brain and body for a healthy lifestyle that will last beyond any 8 week challenge:
- Get Some More Shut Eye - if you typically get 6 hours, go for 7. If you get less than 6, eliminate one thing to give you at least 15 more minutes of shut-eye each night.
- Be Nice To Yourself - studies have shown that positive self-talk reduces stress, boosts optimism and even improves athletic performance. Use this rule: if you wouldn't let someone talk to your child or your mother that way, don't talk to yourself that way!
- Treat Your Brain to a Healthy Snack - throw out the processed foods and go for some tasty foods that are proven to increase positive brain activity, foods like: mixed berries, guacamole, macadamia nuts, or almonds. Try this recipe.
It is possible to create a consistent fitness routine even if you’ve never had success before. Training your brain is the first step. For more helpful tips, visit our Warrior Blog and Facebook page, and stay tuned for the next article in this series!