Change your Brain to Change your Body

29 Nov

I’m proud to live in the city deemed the fattest in America. What a difference I can make when the majority of individuals whom I meet are unhealthy, fat, and saddled with habits that have them knocking on death’s door!


On the other hand, while opportunity is ripe to extol the virtues of healthier nutrition and optimal exercise, I am constantly barraged with evidence of a clear lack of motivation to make even one small change to the  behaviors that have created this epidemic in the first place.


At what point does one look down, realize that he can’t see his feet, and question the behaviors that have gotten him there? What’s the turning point that spurs one to decide that steps must be taken to turn around their encroaching tide of fatness?


The consequences of obesity are clear. Aside from the metabolic risks, being overweight or obese means signficant psychological damage.


I realize this may sound harsh. In no way is this article meant to demean those who are overweight or obese. My goal is to draw attention, yet again, to what I so desperately wish each person would take notice of and actually move on.


Recent studies have demonstrated how the human brain and cognitive faculties are impaired by increased body fat.  Once a person reaches a BMI between 25-30, they demonstrate a 4% reduction in brain matter. A BMI over 30, and your brain loses another 4% of volume and looks 16 years older than a brain from a normal weight individual. In other words, as brain weight goes up, brain function declines!


The frontal lobe, the brain’s chief of decision-making, becomes smaller with increasing levels of body fat. Given the hundreds of food choices we make each day, frontal  lobe function is quite important. Food cues abound.  Through advertising, convenient options, and fast food restaurants on every corner, temptations are everywhere. Our frontal lobes help us to say no and exert self-control!


If you are reading this and you are overweight, you might be thinking, “Gosh, maybe that’s why I don’t have any willpower!” If you are thinking this, I won’t let you use your smaller frontal lobe as an excuse for overeating! There are natural ways to influence brain health to impact behavior change. 2009 research presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Ingestive Behavior found that depressed patients who followed a 6-month behavioral weight loss program not only lost weight but also reported significantly less depression. Results from the world’s largest brain-imaging/brain-rehabilitation study on active and retired professional football players to determine the relationship between professional-football participation and brain damage demonstrated that as football players undertook behavior change programs to improve their brain health, they also lost substantial amounts of weight—as much as 100 pounds.


Brain scans taken from individuals who have made lifestyle changes including increased exercise, healthier food intake, stress reduction, appropriate supplementation, more sleep, and changing negative thinking patterns have revealed changes in the appearance of the brain.




As you’re navigating the holidays this year, put your frontal lobe to work and plan ahead. Strategize an approach for at least maintaining your weight. Such preparation is an important component of The Diet Doc process, whether for a small get together, eating out, or a holiday gathering. Your program has to fit your lifestyle. Whatever shape your lifestyle takes, you must put your brain to work to make your progress sustainable.


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