When you go to bed at night, do you look forward tomorrow? Do you spend much of your day responding to someone else’s demands, not in charge of your own agenda?
Do you sit a lot, staring at a screen in a cubicle for hours on end?
Do you get bored? Do you feel like you were born bored and you just can’t stand it?
I went to a talk last week on the neuroscience of addiction. It was given by Dr. Alex Stalcup* of the New Leaf Treatment Center. The focus was on drugs but as I learned the process of addiction, the changes that occur in the brain prior, during, and after addiction has taken hold, it occurred to me that it is the same process that keeps us hooked on unhealthy food, carbohydrates and sugar especially.
You see, when we enter a negative state, and it might only be mildly negative, our instincts kick in. It is not conducive to our survival for us to be under stimulated, or worse – angry, anxious or deeply depressed.
We need to be like Goldilocks.
To counteract this threat to our survival, our instincts kick in and we seek out pleasure. Often, for us, that is food, especially the food that pings the pleasure receptors of our brain.
These substances move us from the point on the continuum that is on the left (bored, depressed) to the right (upbeat, happy).
We take them.
And all is well in our world.
Until the effect wears off and we sink back down again.
So the cycle continues.
That isn’t what I wanted to share.
I wanted to share this. Listen up.
Exercise is the antithesis of addiction.
Let me say that again.
Exercise is the opposing force with which you can counter the craving for food that leads to addiction.
As Harry Potter is to Voldemort and Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader, so exercise is to cravings and, ultimately, addiction.
Because exercise raises the levels of endorphins in the brain, you can move yourself from a negative to positive state without the need of external substances.
You must use exercise as part of your plan for eating healthier.
It doesn’t have to be CrossFit, involve an expensive gym membership, or running marathons. It can be as simple as walking your dog. Anything, as long as it moves you to a positive state.
But here’s the most important thing.
If you know this, you can use exercise proactively and strategically.
Before a problem arises.
If you are sedentary, you will become bored, depressed, or worse. If you are not interested in your work, you will become bored, depressed, or worse. If you are at home a lot with young children, you may well become bored, depressed, or worse.
No-one is immune.
It is pervasive in our society today.
Heck, this is our society today.
Build exercise into your day. Pay attention to your moods and work out how much and how often you need to exercise in order to keep your brain chemicals in the positive zone.
Perhaps you need to walk around the block every hour. Maybe a set of T-Tapp Hoedowns are in order. Take the kids to the park and join in with them on the jungle gym. Then in the afternoon, strap them in the buggy and go for a walk.
Build exercise into your day in small bursts and do it often throughout the day.
Keep those brain chemicals up. You don’t want them to sink. Catch them before they do.
*You can download the presentation here.
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