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A Brain based approach to change

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A Brain based approach to change

Postby GlowOnline » Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:24 pm

Ever wondered why it is such hard work to create change?

Do you want to finally get off the treadmill of ‘two steps forward one step back’ when trying to
change your lifestyle habits for the better so you can create the kind of physique and vibrant
health you have always dreamed of?

Before we continue, a quick lesson on the brain; thankfully in plain, easy to understand terms!

Recent studies on how the brain works have discovered that our brains like to “hardwire” any
activity we do repetitively. It stores this information in an area of the brain called the basal
ganglia so our brain can do these things without really thinking about them, freeing our brains up
to learn new things and respond to new situations.

Imagine if everyday we had to relearn how to tie our shoes or brush our teeth, put on makeup,
make a coffee or drive a car. Because we do these things so often they have become second
nature and we can now do them as if on “auto pilot”.

This is relevant to creating change in our lifestyle habits because much of what we do now is
“hardwired”. When we try to change our habits our brains detect change and it feels

The good news is that we can use this ability to “hardwire” to our advantage.

We now know inherently we are opposed to change and will experience a struggle when trying to
make change happen. Up until now we have probably put this down to lack of willpower when in
fact this is what we are predisposed to do.

So in theory, all we need to do now is create some new habits and do them enough that they
become “hardwired”. Again, remember back to tying your shoes, only this time think back to the
first time you tried to do it. I remember a lot of frustration throughout this process, thinking I
would never get it right - but I did and you did too.

I remember being so focused on learning how to tie my shoes that I practiced and persevered until
I got it.


And here my friend’s is the key.

There is even a term we can attach to this; it is called Attention Density. Attention Density is
applying consistent and committed focus to whatever it is you are trying to do; to immerse
yourself in what you are trying to achieve until you achieve it.

This is where we can now apply this little lesson about the brain to our health and fitness goals.

Imagine that you want to create a habit of waking up and walking or running each day at 6am. Up
until now you have been waking up at 7.45 and heading straight for the kettle. What discomfort
can you expect to experience when trying to create this new habit or “hardwiring”? Plenty!
However, now you can expect it and plan to work through it, because you know by repeating it
consistently enough your brain will “hardwire” this new habit. Within a month or two you will be
doing it without thinking, which is the desired outcome.

Great in theory but what’s going to keep you at it when the alarm rings and all you want to do is
hit snooze? You need to have an inspired reason to work through the discomfort and create
simple strategies for making this as easy as possible during the transition phrase. This includes
tactics such as having your workout gear right by your bed so you can be dressed and out the door
before you’ve had time to think about it. It is important at this time to set yourself up to win.

I coach women to set themselves up to win by supporting them through this transition phase. By
keeping them accountable and helping them find their own ways to push through this
“hardwiring” phase they can create the change they have been looking for.

In summary, to utilise the brain-based approach to change follow the following three steps.

This is always in the form of a goal that inspires and excites you.

Know that this is the “hard work” phase of creating change and that soon enough your brain will
“hardwire” this new habit making it a new part of your makeup.

Live the change. The longer this change is in process the more difficult it is to undo.

Why you DONT need motivation.
It is a common misconception that we need to be motivated if we are to achieve our health fitness or weight loss goals
But as you are probably aware by now motivation is a fickle friend that can not always be relied upon when you need it
My Glow girls will be the first to tell you lack of motivation is not an excuse that holds too much weight for me and my response is pretty much the same each time
You dont need to be motivated to get the job done you just need to get it done
The reality is that there will be times you are not motivated but you do have other options as a driving force to get your butt out the door when you really dont feel like it
Discipline is by far a more reliable friend than motivation.
Like most skills self discipline takes time to develop but once acquired it is hard to shake it is a much more loyal friend than motivation
Start small and continue to build for example discipline yourself to pack your lunch box every evening for 1 month to ensure you have a healthy and nutritious lunch that will keep you on track
One month of packing your lunch everyday will create the habit but will still require small amounts of discipline to keep it up

Structure is equally as important as discipline because without it things can easily go awry.
In the lunchbox example the structure could involve a list like the one below to get you started
Airtight Containers small medium and large
Cooler Bag with reusable ice packs
Weekly Lunch Meal Plan
Shopping for Plan baby spinach lean protein greek yoghurt
Obviously after you have purchased your containers and cooler they can come off the list and then each week you only need to create your meal plan and then shop for it so you have everything on hand in the evenings when it is time to prepare you lunches
If you have everything on hand it becomes EASY to throw everything together
When things are easy THEY GET DONE
Do the work in the beginning and the rest falls into place

Most women need some form of accountability to get over those hump moments when a bad decision could easily be made
If you have to tell someone or write down that you didnt pack your lunch and instead ate rubbish for lunch it will make you think twice about not spending the 5 minutes it will take you to put your lunch together
The more visible and compelling your goals are the more dedicated you will be to them
Goal setting is a whole other newsletter but just know that if you can see your goals regularly and they excite you the chances of you doing what it takes are greatly increased

So there you have it your guide to getting the job done sans motivation
Don’t get me wrong motivation is nice it makes the job easier but it is not crucial
For the odd dose of motivation to keep things fun here is a list of things you can use to give you that extra kick
New Workout Clothes
New Music for your ipod
Sign up for a fun run or walk a bike ride or triathlon
Read Quality Fitness Magazines for inspiration
Create a vision board I do one every single December
Do a fun workout or class for a week for something different
Train with a friend
Pull out your old favorite jeans and hang them where you can see them
Watch you tube footage of Ironman Hawaii and try not to head out the door for a run
Search google images for fit bodies or similar
While you dont need motivation a bit of fun never hurt anyone
Create discipline structure accountability and goals and have that in place knowing this will get the job done and draw on things like the list above when …
Last edited by CronicBadger on Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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