Heart and brain that dance exercise brain spark

EXERCISE IS A BRAIN CHANGER

“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.” Plato

Burning calories to lose fat is just one reason to exercise. I am going to give you better reasons because if it’s your only reason to exercise, it won’t become a habit. I’ll give you reasons that go far beyond the fuzzy notion of runners high. I am going to share the science with you, in hopes that it makes exercise something you WANT to do. Not merely to lose a few pounds, but to be your absolute best. After you discover all the benefits of exercise, you will understand why I say choosing to NOT EXERCISE is like taking a depressant that erodes self-control and impairs cognitive function. A small dose of daily exercise is the absolute best way to improve your life. The brain runs the show, and as you’ll soon see, exercise promotes better brain function. Our brain loves physical activity. It increases blood flow to the brain, delivering nutrients and removing the waste products of normal neuronal activity. Vigorous movement keeps our neurotransmitters in balance, strengthens our synaptic connections, and even stimulates the production of new brain cells. Some of these neurotransmitters, like endorphins, provide a powerful incentive to exercise. They act on our opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects, making strenuous physical exercise pleasurable.

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EXERCISE IS A KEYSTONE HABIT

Morning movement puts your body and brain in a good place. It improves your mood for hours. Why not start the day feeling fantastic. Even a mini-workout will elevate your state and build your confidence. I keep a 35-pound kettlebell in my living room, so I can perform a mini-workout whenever I need to re-energize. My standing desk is in our home gym, so I can grab an exercise snack whenever the mood hits me. 

Exercise is one of the few good habits that produce immediate gratification. I usually suggest people begin their fat loss journey with exercise, not because I think it is the most effective at reducing body weight because it isn’t, but because daily exercise is a keystone habit that leads to a whole host of beneficial habits, like eating better, sleeping more, decreased alcohol consumption, and a reduction in smoking. Australian researchers, Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng found that healthy habits lead to significant improvements in a wide range of regulatory behaviors such as less impulsive spending; better dietary habits; decreased alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine consumption; and fewer hours watching TV.[i]  Continue reading EXERCISE IS A KEYSTONE HABIT

Two Potent Strategies for Behavior Change

eople that start out too ambitious and quit; you will also develop into a more disciplined and motivated person. Every time you exercise, you are reinforcing the habit and casting another vote for the type of person who exercises regularly. Every workout is another small win that contributes to your self-esteem. Sustained motivation is born of sustained action. It is a huge mistake to believe motivation must proceed action. The reverse is true. First, we must produce a small win, activate our reward system, flood our body with dopamine – then we will feel motivated to do more. This is the reason crossing-off an item on our to-do list makes us feel fantastic. Progress equals happiness. Nothing motivates us better than progress. When you start creating an unbroken chain of X’s in your habit tracker, your motivation is going to soar. You are not going to want to see your perfect streak end. If you make your scorecard public, you will be even more motivated to keep your streak alive. The more you do, the more you will want to do.  Continue reading Two Potent Strategies for Behavior Change

THE MOTIVATION FALLACY

Motivation isn’t the solution; motivation is the problem. Please, let me explain. The belief that you need motivation to take action is going to prevent you from forming any habits. Motivation isn’t an effective strategy for long-term behavior change for two reasons. Motivation fluctuates from day to day and tends to decrease over time. Habits not only fly under the radar of our conscious brain, but they also fly under the radar of our emotions. Just like we savor the first bite of our meal more than the last, we tend to be less motivated the more times we repeat a routine. Boredom is the biggest obstacle to excellence. A lot of people hit the gym for two or three weeks, then lose their motivation to go and quit. They blame their lack of motivation, but it is their belief that they need to be motivated to go that is the problem. So, if motivation isn’t the solution, what is? Continue reading THE MOTIVATION FALLACY

Consistency Trumps Intensity – Avoid the Perfectionism Trap

Consistency trumps intensity. Never let what you cannot do prevent you from doing what you can. Perfectionism is the enemy of consistency. It is another TRAP to be avoided. It leads to missed workouts and blown diets. How many times have you told yourself, I cannot get to the gym or do my entire workout, I guess I’ll pick back up tomorrow, or I already blew my diet for today, might as well enjoy myself. I will pick back up where I left off tomorrow. Tomorrow, we always think we will have more time and willpower tomorrow. The funny thing about tomorrow, it tends to look a lot like today.  Continue reading Consistency Trumps Intensity – Avoid the Perfectionism Trap