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Forget the Gym. Rewiring Your Brain is the Real Key to Weight Loss
The seed of our body’s weight loss function is not in our thighs or fat cells, but in our brains. As a brain and cognitive scientist, I can tell you the research proves that the foods we consume today, and the way we consume them, quickly trigger changes in the brain that ultimately block weight loss by creating insatiable hunger and overpowering cravings.
The main culprits are flour and sugar, which are in nearly everything we eat. They hijack our hormones and neurotransmitters and actually change our brains, ensuring that we will continue eating more and more of both. In other words, they are highly addictive. As a former drug addict, I don’t use this term lightly.
So diets that moderate flour and sugar consumption will ultimately backfire for 99% of people because the underlying brain maladaptations haven’t been addressed or healed.
But we can rewire our brain to work for us, not against us, and ultimately achieve permanent weight loss. I did it myself and have helped thousands of others do the same. Here are 5 simple steps:
Eliminate sugar and flour
They are as addictive and harmful to your brain as cocaine and other powdered drugs.
Eat regular meals
A steady schedule of three meals a day at regular mealtimes—breakfast, lunch, and dinner —trains the brain to eat the right things at the right times and to pass up the wrong things in between.
Eat the right quantities
Most adults no longer receive reliable signals from their brains to stop eating when they’ve had enough. Eating right-sized portions will revive those signals over time and help the pounds melt off.
Understand how willpower works
Cognitive science shows willpower is a finite resource that we all only have about 15 minutes of at a time, and we deplete it all day long by trying to keep our patience and stay focused in our hyper-stimulating world. Which is why you cannot rely on willpower alone to change your eating habits!
Like a drug rehab program, make these “Bright Lines” non-negotiable. Doing so will take the burden off willpower, make good choices automatic, and remove the ambiguity that leads to “just one more little bite.”
Once you’ve lost all your excess weight then, by all means, take up kayaking and ballroom dancing. Make those your resolutions next year. This year I want to be the last year you ever have to resolve to lose weight.
Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester and an expert in the psychology of eating. She is President of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss and CEO of Bright Line Eating Solutions, a company dedicated to sharing the psychology and neuroscience of sustainable weight loss and helping people live Happy, Thin, and Free.