Food For Thought
- Article Author: Red Jen
Did you know your brain is plastic? It is ever changing and malleable and, in fact, can be strengthened like a muscle! Neuroplasticity means you have some control over your cranial fitness. While brain function naturally deteriorates somewhat as you age, various approaches like meditation, breathing exercises, and even deliberately doing nothing can break the stress response in your hippocampus, which has been shown to cause premature cranial aging and memory loss. Studies also show that while meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation alter your immediate state of mind, these practices also create new neural pathways and strengthen existing ones as long as you live. Thus, stimulating areas of the brain that handle positive emotions strengthens those neural networks, just as working muscles strengthens them. In “Six Surprising Things that Affect Your Brain,” from Care2.com, Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, cofounder of the San Francisco–based Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom says, “In other words, you can use your mind to change your brain to affect your mind.”
Further, researchers are now realizing that even our genes are open to influence throughout our lifetime. I used to think that our genes were the blueprint for our bodies and that the food we ate served as mere building blocks and, consequently, the only influence on the expression of that blueprint. However, I recently read an article in the NY Times, entitled “Genes as Mirrors of Life Experiences,” that opened my eyes to a new science, called epigenetics. Scientists are now beginning to understand that our genes are actually influenced by our experiences, our reactions to them, and even by what we think, feel and believe; we actually have some power over our genetic blueprint! So the old adage of “you are what you eat,” now becomes, “you are what you eat, what you experience and what you think!” Thoughts are just like food in terms of how they impact your body. You are not only what you eat, you are also what you think!
And so, this morning I woke up thinking about change, about how it's easier to change your mind than your body. And in fact, changing your mind can actually change your body. What do I mean? The power of intention, of mantra, of affirmations, of positive thinking or whatever you want to call it. It's about the ability to change your thoughts, and how those thoughts then impact your body and even your genes. The familiar saying that attitude is everything does indeed have merit. Thus, if you change your mind, you can change your body!
The idea is that instead of wishing you had a super model physique and feeling like you are inadequate because you don't: change your aspiration. Think positive thoughts about who you are now. Let go of the sense of judgment we apply to ourselves, the comparison we make with unrealistic ideals. Embrace who you truly are - your lovely bumps leftover from the beautiful children you bore, the bulging bunions you inherited from your father, the sense of doubt and worry that you are not good enough as you are. Remember that perfection lies in imperfection. Rather than chastising your flaws, learn to love and embrace them. In yoga we call this “santosha,” or contentment: the idea that you are perfect as you are and in this moment. Regardless what you call it, the time has come to change your thoughts to change your life!
To see a hilarious example of someone who did just that... ever fearful of what people would think of his body, this hula-hoop-advocate got over it, shed his clothes and hooped through downtown LA in his "tightie whities" to let go of his fears of inadequacy. See for yourself: watch “Gotta Hoop” on youtube.com.
Now, what can you do today to free yourself from fear and judgment? What thoughts in your mind can you re-program to serve you instead of sabotaging you? Notice the thoughts running around your head; you can change them! Really want to make some changes, but feel stuck on the “how to”? Contact Red Jen today and let her show you how.
Your Fabulous Food tip brought to you by Red Jen Ford, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Instructor. As Manager of the Westwood Farmers Market, located in the Vets Garden and open Thursdays from Noon to 5 PM, Jen teaches her customers and busy clients the simplicity of eating local, sustainably grown food. Starting with incredibly fresh and tasty ingredients makes putting a healthy meal on the table quick and easy! Learn to savor the season and make small changes to live a fabulous, healthy and more balanced life!