Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Support is a key element in success

I know I touched on this subject a bit yesterday, but thought I'd talk about it a little more today. I put this together for my examiner column. You can read it here or there, please just remember to go to my column either way so I get credit. :)

Support is a key element in success
(reprint from my Examiner.com column)

Recently I read an eye-opening article by Dr. Mike Eades, co-author of the popular low-carb plan Protein Power. In this blog post he discusses the difficulties we sometimes have in doing what we know is best for us, diet or otherwise. It all has to do with two areas in our brains called nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and insula. These two areas are activated by different stimuli. NAcc is activated by things that excited you – a new gadget, your favorite foods, etc. The insula is activated by less exciting things – like how much that new ipod costs or knowing you’ll gain 5 lbs over night from eating that donut. It’s kind of the shoulder angel and shoulder devil if you will. The shoulder devil says, “Wouldn’t those cookies taste so good right now? You really deserve to enjoy yourself!” Your NAcc gets excited and makes you seriously consider eating the cookie. But then your shoulder angel, the insula, steps in. “Don’t eat that! You’ve done so well and you know it will make you bloated and feel awful later!” This is the battle you go through on a daily basis, whether it’s food, buying decisions or even ways to spend your time.

Dr. Eades suggests that when surrounded by a high-carb, low-fat society, our insula gets bombarded with all the negative messages about low-carb living that are constantly thrown our way. This nice little area of our brain goes from working for us, in most cases keeping us cautious, to working against us. Now our insula is telling us we should be careful and many people think what we are doing is dangerous. Then the NAcc pushes its way through and convinces you to go ahead and eat that potato because it may not be that bad for you, despite the fact that you’ll regret it later.

Getting daily support and affirmations for your chosen lifestyle is vital to keeping yourself on track. Checking in with like-minded people on forums, through emails, or even just reading blogs and websites, will keep you encouraged. So keep your insula happy by confirming daily in your head what you already know in your heart. Tell that NAcc to take a hike when temptation comes a calling by seeking out your favorite sources of inspiration.

Need some new inspiration? Feel free to check out my favorite blogs and website links listed on the right of this page.

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