Your body is your temple. It is the vehicle that interacts with your environment, the one that is also carrying your soul. And it is a self-adaptive organism that learns and transforms as time goes by.
Your body is so wise that it can generate positive feelings just by movement. Every time you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain involved with the perception you have about pain. This means that when you move your body, either taking a walk, running, jumping, swimming, surfing, cycling, or any other physical exercise, you are helping yourself by reducing pain.
Not only do you feel less pain, but endorphins also trigger positive feelings, similar to a naturally occurring morphine. Basically exercising is one of your natural healers. It has the power to make you feel good and to make you feel less bad.
If you already know that exercise makes you feel better, you may ask yourself “why am I not exercising or moving my body as I´d like to?”
That question is not easy to answer, yet there is a basic explanation for why we are planning on doing things based on logical and rational thinking, but still find it hard to take action. It happens not only with exercise but also with nutrition, smoking, and even anxiety. We know what we should do, but we end up not doing it.
In simple terms, our brain structure can be divided into two parts: Our old/archaic brain, the one that had to learn how to survive, represents our instincts and old patterns of behavior. As an example, millions of years ago when our ancestors were hungry, they needed to hunt in order to eat and feel satisfied. This is what we know today as reward-based learning or operant conditioning. The principle is based on a trigger (feeling hungry), a behavior (hunting), and a reward (feeling satisfied).
The other part of our brain structure is our new/modern brain. This includes the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for rational thinking, executive functioning, decision making, and always finds reasons why we shouldn’t listen to our old pattern of behavior. Every time we have negative feelings like hunger, anxiety, depression, and loneliness, or positives like happiness, or feeling socially active, our old brain tells us that if we eat, drink, smoke, or take similar actions, we will be rewarded and feel better. Even though our new brain knows this is not the best choice, when emotions or stress take over, our old brain wins the battle and we go back to that old habit.
So, what can you do to make your transformation a sustainable one? Here are some tips that will help you stay active and healthy:
–Create an achievable objective. We all have our own experience of failure, and you know that if you promise yourself you will exercise 7 days a week, 1 hour a day, especially if you are just starting out, you may be setting an unrealistic goal.
–Start with simple, small steps. Make it one day at a time and always celebrate every step of the way. It is very important you feel satisfied with your tiny accomplishments, so you feel positively rewarded and can use this reward-based approach to our benefit (and not to the benefit of the old brain).
–Look for a buddy or a community to support and feel supported. As humans, we live our lives in relation to others. The bigger and stronger our network of relationships, the more resilient we are. So build up your network, and start the path of transformation with someone that has the same or similar goals.
If you recognize your old brain is winning too many of your battles, and you are not exercising as you would like to, or you are still smoking, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can help you to take back your health!