WORKOUT: Strength (replay this…refresh the Mobility moves)
Right now a part of your brain is saying
“Fuuuuck, too many words, don’t read this blabbidy blab. Go back to Fruit Ninja.”
And another part is saying
“There may be intellectually stimulating ideas, mind-melting insights. Read on!”
We talk about “psychological wins,” such as resolving the above scenario:
…like passing up the brownies in the office
…going an extra 3 hours on an intermittent fast
…going a bit heavier on deadlifts
…cranking up the pace when we think we should bow out
Etc, etc…All that good stuff. Yay, it feels mentally good to do those things.
It’s not just psychological/mental…there’s a clear biology behind that.
Let’s take a look-see.
So there are 3 brain regions involved here:
1) Limbic System: structures involved in Drive, Motivation, Emotion, Fight-Flight, and Memory. Basic mammalian regulations.
2) Pre-Frontal Cortex: does abstract “human” thinking…reason, rationale, plan, anticipate, judge outcomes. The uniquely human neural circuitry.
The challenge is having those 2 regions communicate effectively (i.e., if you are playing fruit ninja instead of reading this, then the Limbic System won)
…the Limbic System is the older, more primitive and probably stronger system (neurally)
…So when the Limbic System says:
***get whip on the Latte’…eat more slices of pizza…supersize the fries
***just skip the workout today…only do 3 rounds…that hurts, throttle back a bit
…It is saying them with authority!!!
And the Pre-Frontal Cortex has to summon all it’s neural power to over-ride, control those impulses/urges. (simple article on this idea) I mean, the PFC is breathing deep and grunting like it’s about to deadlift 425lbs to survive the Limbic onslaught!
So, what’s the 3rd region?…the 3rd is the Anterior Cingulate Cortex
The ACC is thought to be the bridge between
…the older primitive reactive brain, and
…thinking reasonable brain
(oh, poor thing…imagine getting in the middle of that fight)
…see in yellow, it’s between the PFC (forehead) and the middle Limbic System.
…”The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) lies in a unique position in the brain, with connections to both the “emotional” limbic system and the “cognitive” prefrontal cortex.”
…”ACC has extensive connections with areas known to be important for emotion (e.g., amygdala), memory (e.g., hippocampal region), and reward- (e.g., orbitofrontal cortex, ventral striatum) related functions.”
…”The amygdala is a key limbic structure, and it has a central role in emotion. The cingulate cortex has projections to both the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Reaction to emotional stimuli is controlled by a “top-down” emotion-regulation process from several areas of frontal cortex.”
…”it is clear that the cingulate cortex plays a significant role in mediating cognitive influences on emotion. ” (Stevens, et al, 2011)
If your shit’s out of whack…ignoring, hoping or waiting for a bang-moment-epiphany is conceding the loss.
1) Take daily actions that strengthen and reinforce the neural pathways of the PFC/ACC.
Once we exert self-control, overcome cravings, regulate emotional reactivity
…then we’re better able to exert self-control, overcome cravings, regulate emotional reactivity.
2) “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” (Hebb, 1949). When you go for the win, actually visualize the PFC getting stronger, more resilient…like you would see improvements in any body part you are exercising.
3) Use the PFC for good not evil. Once those Limbic signals come through (eat, skip workouts, eat, play fruit ninja), the PFC can actually make it worse by creating all kinds of dysfunctional rationales and excuses (“yeah, well I could just xyz tomorrow”). Prepare the PFC to be prepared for the PFC to do that (is that messed up or what?). Be aware!
4) And know that the Limbic signals just want immediate gratification, fleeting happiness. The PFC sees the bigger picture.
…No joke, the Limbic dopamine pathways will tell you to eat an entire box of cookies and a pizza (ENTIRE!)…and you will!
…WTF is that, right?! If you struggle with that kind of stuff always load up the PFC and say “I’m better than that.” (Pride, self-esteem, empowerment, personal control of life)
***This site is for entertainment purposes only. Consult an appropriate professional for proper information, evaluation, advice, guidance, and/or treatment.