Strength of the mind

Friday, July 7, 2017

Being completely vulnerable.
If you look through my journal, you will see a theme.  Actually, you probably don't even have to look at my journal to know this theme in me.  I have a very natural tendency to be negative.  Give me any situation and I can find the negative...some might say that I even look for it.  It's not depression, it's just a negative script that runs through my head.  I have been fighting to change that script; those journal pages are filled to the brim with scripture and prayers.  I finally came to a spot where I knew something had to change TODAY.  I need to accept that this is a struggle I may always have but equip myself to fight.  Why TODAY?  Because what runs through my head effects my words and my attitude towards my family and that in turn effects their words and attitudes, especially one very impressionable little girl. 

While this much needed change was on my heart, I listened to a podcast (while running on the treadmill to make it a little bit enjoyable) by Marathon Training Academy, called "How Running Changes Your Brain-Interview with Dr Wendy Suzuki" can also watch a similar video here.  Oh, how I needed this!  Dr. Suzuki has done extensive research on how exercise changes our brain, but I would say she equally found that our brain changes our exercise.  Things I found interesting about her podcast and really needed to hear:

1. We are the most productive (our brains are functioning at their highest capacity) right after exercising. 

2. When we have negative scripts running through our brain, those negative synapses are stronger and therefore fire more naturally.  Saying positive things will strengthen the positive synapses over time and hopefully, will eventually take over that natural position.

3. Say out loud positive things during an exercise. 
**This goes hand-in-hand with runners having mantras, but takes it one step further.  A suggestion would be to say while running:  I am strong.  I am committed.  I am fast.  I am more than enough.  I am on fire!

4. In a study between running, HIIT and walking, walking actually won for the best exercise for our brain.  Surprising, but it won because running and HIIT both put stress on your body (it's good stress, but it's still stress).  I probably won't be taking up walking, although hiking is intriguing, but it is a good reminder to make sure you get in some slow, easy runs.

5. Brain health is more important than most want to give it credit.  Things to do to keep this very important organ healthy:
~Sleep!  At least 8 hours a night.
~Eat a healthy diet...more on that later
~Meditation or prayer
~Learn a new skill
~Learn a new language
~Do something you enjoy
~Listen to music
~Drink tea and say things you are thankful for
~Don't check email and social media.  Obviously for work purposes, you probably have to check email a couple of times a day, but the idea is to not let it fill your thoughts.

6. She addressed being down on yourself during working out.  I found it refreshing that I wasn't the only one who compares myself to other athletes around me.  BUT it doesn't matter what they are wearing or how fast they are going or how far or how big their muscles are...

 boy, did I need that kick in the pants.

7. She did some interesting research studies.  I have a secret love for research like this.  In one study, they had a green drink and told one group that it was a tea full of vitamins and protein and was only 100 calories.  They gave the same drink to another group and told them that it was full of sugar and chemicals and was 800 calories.  The group who believed the drink was healthy, felt better about drinking it (had those positive synapses firing away), but the group who thought it was basically a milkshake felt terrible about drinking it.  It's amazing how our thoughts affect even our food choices!

Running is 90% mental, which means that all these years I've been running on 10%, which also means that running is amazing because that 10% has really helped my mental status stay somewhat positive. I'm really curious to see how my running changes after I put some work into a healthy brain.  Interestingly enough, I ended that treadmill run feeling like I could have kept running; it was the best I've felt in a long time.

My journey on this subject is just beginning, but it is clear that all aspects of my life will benefit from this endeavor. 

I am strong.  I am committed.  I am more than enough.

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