Our Brain Influences Our Weight
Our weight is entirely influenced by what happens in our brain, so we start this session by exploring the relationship between our brain and body.
The role of the brain is to preserve our life and maintain an internal equilibrium that supports our physical, intellectual, and emotional functioning. Unless something goes wrong, we’re generally (and thankfully) unaware of all the autonomic regulatory mechanisms (heartbeat, breathing, motor reflex, etc.) and chemical interactions between regions of our brain, organs, and other systems. Our brain automatically does what we don’t have the time, knowledge, or capability to manage for ourselves. That’s a pretty powerful statement; however, to self-regulate eating behavior and much more, we must develop an awareness of what our brain does to ensure survival and immediate satisfaction.
The hypothalamus (peanut-sized part of our brain) has highly active monitoring and feedback systems integrated with our body systems and organs through the spinal column and other peripheral nervous systems. It knows immediately when our temperature or activity levels are high or low, energy demands are high or low. This is also true for our mood states and cognitive functioning.
Over time, this part of the brain develops and “learns” set points (or levels) for functioning. It helps to think of this concept as a glass of water where the normal capacity (set point) is half full. The peanut constantly monitors that level to ensure our survival (and comfort). At any given moment, if the level changes significantly below or above the half-full mark, the peanut will do whatever is required to energize and motivate us to do what’s needed to return to our “set points” or the half-full level.
The key point is that the peanut doesn’t consider what’s healthy for us. It just tries to return to the levels it’s used to. The peanut doesn’t actually know if our “set point” baseline levels and activities support optimal health and longevity.
BreakThrough! Take away #1. If WE don’t exert control over our Brain, WE are along for the ride!