We often refer to our cognitive abilities as muscles, but did you know that your brain is actually a jelly-like substance that is malleable and modifiable?
Similar to the muscles of your body, your brain is designed to grow and strengthen, and thanks to a special ability called ‘neuroplasticity’ it can be sculpted too.
This means that with the right knowledge and tools you can impact how your brain functions, improving your physical, mental, emotional and functional states, currently and long term.
One of the best ways to do this is by using the body you currently have to get the brain you want! Your brain is neurologically wired throughout your entire body, so when you intentionally care for your body, you inevitably care for your brain.
As fitness professionals, you are practicing and teaching many practical aspects of neuroscience – perhaps without even realizing it. With the information and new awareness that I’d like to share with you, you can quickly leverage your current skill set and have an even greater impact on your results and the outcomes you provide for yourself and your clients. Here are six steps to get you started.
REPETITION – Whatever you repeat on a regular basis creates more neurons and neural networks that will support and engrain that habit and way of thinking. If you are happy with your results, then continue with what you are doing. However, if you are not satisfied, then it’s time to get some new habits into place and to fortify a new and improved brain network.
ENGAGE – In neuroscience terms: “how you fire it, is how you wire it!” If you are serious about making changes in your life, you need to engage in supportive actions that align with your goals. In other words, you can’t just talk or think about it, you need to DO something which will activate neural responses and resulting brain connections.
WHY – As with anything in life, there needs to be some degree of motivation to get us started. For example, you are hungry enough to make a meal, tired enough to go to sleep, smelly enough to take a shower…etc. This is the same with life goals, too. When you want a change badly enough you will let go of your current situation and move into new terrain. Take a moment and connect to the reason behind your desired life change or goal. What’s your motivation? How would your life look, feel, or be different if you were to achieve the change? Clarifying and anchoring your intention is the precursor to actually delivering on it.
IMAGINE – Did you know that visualizing yourself performing an activity is almost as powerful as doing it? Visualization works because the same brain regions are activated when you mentally rehearse something as when you actually perform it. If you want to improve your athletic performance, deliver a powerful presentation, talk about a delicate subject with a friend or co-worker, you can rehearse ahead of time and improve the likelihood of more positive outcomes.
RELEASE – In order to bring the ‘new’ into your life, you need to make space for it. For example, if your calendar is already packed with commitments, how will you schedule in new opportunities? If your cupboards are full of food that doesn’t nourish you, where will you put new items that will? If your mind is so busy analyzing and regurgitating familiar thoughts and material, how will you have time to imagine and invite new possibilities? Take the time to do some weeding out to lighten your load and shift your energy in the direction you want to go.
ELEVATE – As they say in show biz, “It’s a long road to an overnight success!” Every step is part of the bigger picture; and if you want to make the ‘long road’ fun and enjoyable, recognizing all your efforts will be worth it. Research has shown that as children are growing and developing, being acknowledged for their efforts plays a big role in keeping them motivated and anchoring each new skill. Adults are not much different. We all do better when affirmed for our efforts. There are many simple, quick, and affordable ways you can bring in an element of celebration on a regular basis. A high five can go a long way!
To your Fit Brain & Fit Life!