If I have in any way been able to explain to you how the brain controls your appetite, I would be remiss to not go deeper and talk about what fuels the brain. In our physical bodies, the heart pumps blood to the brain so the brain can make all the voluntary and involuntary decisions we need to live. The brain controls everything, but the heart fuels the brain. And so it is in this weight loss process. We respect the power of the brain, without neglecting the source of the heart.
Without the source of fuel from the heart, the brain dies. So your heart is the life-giving source for your brain in controlling your appetite. You must emotionally pump fuel to your brain/your brain's decisions. But what exactly does that mean and what is this fuel? That means in order for your brain to make the necessary decisions in controlling your appetite, you must emotionally support it. You must feel love. For yourself. The fuel is LOVE. I know, in words, this is so trite. In practice, this is the most powerful energy source of the entire universe that you can tap into. But how does one tap into it? Really? We can talk about it, preach about it, and read about it all day long, but how does one really tap into this all-encompassing, unconditional, saving grace of love?
In our first coaching session, we lead our clients through a very powerful exercise that leads them to the core essence of this love. They tap into it, they touch it, they feel it and it becomes real to them in a way that they were not aware of before. Call it weight loss redemption or salvation, it's the same principle. The heart is at the heart of this.
From my last blog, you may be asking, "If my brain controls it all, then why do my senses, these physical sensations and reactions I cannot control, still increase my appetite?" Well they can. If you smell something delicious, it can increase your desire for that food, certainly. But only if your brain allows you to process that stimulated sense (mmm... smell something good...) into an increased appetite. Our senses, although they are physical sensations, are still processed through our neurological system (our brain.)
Think about when your stomach is empty and you feel hungry, and someone in the kitchen has made your favorite meal.... BUT... you have the stomach flu. You are nauseated and have no desire to eat that food; even as hungry as you are, you have no appetite. Although your sense of smell is stimulated (dinner smells delicious), the body knows your digestive system cannot handle any more food, so it sends a message to the brain *feel nauseated*, so the brain
will control your appetite. Likewise, what about when you're full and you still want to eat more? Everyone with any kind of serious weight issue knows what I am talking about. You physically are full, yet your desire for more food is very real. It is not your stomach, but your brain, controlling your appetite. Ultimately the brain processes all the senses, stimulation, and messages and controls your appetite.
You know that you can lose weight if you can control your appetite. And you CAN control your appetite if you can control your brain. How can you control your brain? By creating new patterns in it. Create new patterns in your brain for your brain to follow by training the brain. Not by tricking it, not by lying to it, not by trying to deny it. Train the brain to think truthfully and logically in regards to food and appetite, bringing respect, understanding and awareness to the forefront of your mind.
Lemon merengue pie in my refrigerator.
Temptation. The one thing, no perfect diet plan, routine, or good intentions can withstand,
if we succumb to our temptations. I'll paraphrase simply what temptation is when you're on a diet - an increased desire for food (appetite) that is outside of what you otherwise intend to eat. You know, when you see or smell something and your senses are stimulated, causing your desire to increase, you face temptation, a physical stimulation that is very difficult to resist (or so we believe.)
One day I was cleaning up the kitchen. I opened up the refrigerator to put something away, and to my surprise (my husband went to the grocery store the night before), I see a lemon merengue pie in the refrigerator. I thought nothing of it, as I don't like lemon merengue pie, and continued to clean up the kitchen. As I'm cleaning, I go to throw something away, look down in the trash can and see a box. A pie box. A pie box that said "Banana Cream Pie." And I thought to myself, "Now that's a horse of a different color!", because I love banana cream pie! All of a sudden, my mouth started watering and I had an appetite for that pie, the pie I had already seen, and felt no desire for two minutes ago. So I asked myself, where does this sudden increased appetite/temptation come from? What was causing me to desire this pie all of a sudden? It wasn't sight; I had seen it and didn't want it. It wasn't smell; my face was looking in a trash can. It wasn't even a simple desire to just eat pie. I realized the only thing that caused my appetite to increase at that moment was a memory. The memory that I think banana cream pie is delicious. And that's it. And that simple. My brain - all my thoughts, beliefs, knowledge, reactions, and memories - controls my desire for food (appetite.) My brain controls it all.
The only way to control your appetite is to control the brain. We train the brain to use mental strategies in our weight loss coaching. One of those strategies is higher awareness. When I became aware that my appetite was stimulated from memory and memory alone, I was able to talk to myself about that. Self-dialogue is another very effective strategy. "Yes, I do think banana cream pie is delicious. I have great memories of eating banana cream pie with my grandmother. I know what it tastes like. I don't need to eat it right now to remember the taste; it is delicious, I know it is. I've eaten it before, and I'll eat it again in the future, I am sure, so I don't have to eat it right now."
Look at your temptations square in the eye, don't run from them or resist them; over-power them. Your brain is more powerful in controlling your appetite than anything else. It is the only thing controlling your appetite.
Ever feel like committing to a diet is like committing to a lifetime of saying no to things you once enjoyed? In essence, that you must "marry" this diet menu, this routine, this plan? Never again, will you indulge in things you loved, like pizza or ice cream, nor should you look at it, lest you lust after it. So "say goodbye" tonight is how you feel before every diet... is this why the night before you start a new diet is like a bachelorette party in the kitchen? And every time you cheat feels like adultery? So SHAME on you?
With this mentality, this ball and chain is... a ball and chain. You know that this marriage will be miserable, just like the last. This diet now creates so much anxiety in you, you divorce immediately. But only to marry again. When it comes to diets, you feel like Henry the 8th with the number of times you've heard "Speak now or forever hold your peace." What marriage are you on now?
This "marriage" mentality, tied in with shame and judgment for your "straying", is why you've never found the freedom you long for with your diet and your weight. So how do you get free? You release yourself of this ball and chain and for the first time, stop "holding" your peace... and finally just give yourself peace! Give yourself the peace you need with your body, yourself, and your diet!
We have been duped, by the diet industry, into believing there is no way we can lose weight on our own. The formula for weight loss is, of course, very complex. I mean, it has to be so complicated, otherwise, big companies wouldn't be spending millions of dollars researching and inventing ways to help "cure" America's obesity epidemic. Personally, I believe the only reason there is any research done on obesity is because there is BIG, I mean, BIG, HUGE money to be made in selling you a drug or a product. They really need you to believe that you, the average person, cannot do it on your own without help from a doctor, a pill, a supervised program, intense workout routine, etc.
If this is true, then I, Shelley Johnson, must have beat ALL the odds and been divinely blessed from angel dust that magically transformed my body in a 90 lb weight loss. However, I can tell you, it certainly wasn't magic dust. Listen carefully, I can tell you what I did. I used something, alright; I used the most powerful thing in the world. I bought not any product, I believed in not anyone else, and I used no routine. The only thing I used was my brain. And the first thing my brain did was tell the diet industry, "I'm not buying it."
Trust me, I hate to state the obvious; I just implore you to think about it. If any diet product you've ever bought really worked, why are you not thin already? It's not your fault. YOU have the power to lose weight. You are simply looking for where to plug into that power. It is NOT in a diet product. Don't buy it. Invest in yourself and yourself alone, because the power is in you. All you need is your brain.
Shelley Johnson is the Creator & Founder of The Losing Coach®.