Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Retraining the Fat Brain

Getting home late from work last night and not sleeping well left me looking like The Mummy with none of the awesome powers like being able to rain a plague of locusts down on the gym so I wouldn't have to go and see my trainer. Fat Andra with her "fat brain" would have called in dead. But since I'm working on retraining my fat brain to be a "fit brain," I splashed some cold water on my face and got a move on. I explained to Blake that I was feeling rotten and to please ease me into the workout. He did and about halfway through the endorphins kicked in and I was able to finish strong and even got on the elliptical after we finished and rode like the wind to make up for my slow start.

About "fat brain," I don't have any scientific studies to back up such a thing, only life experience, so take this for what it's worth. I learned the behaviors of turning to food for reasons other than nourishment and the occasional gustatory pleasure from seeing the adult women on both sides of the family turn to food for comfort. I was thin as a child and didn't start having food issues until my dad left when I was 13. My mother turned to food for to deal with her pain and in turn I did the same thing. I developed bad habits and what I call "fat brain." Fat brain is really hard to turn off once it's activated. Though I believe, with all my heart and soul, fat brain can be retrained with conscious effort on a daily, even hourly basis. I didn't say it was easy, but it is possible.

I've been listening to a great podcast called Fat2Fit and they say that if you live the life of a fit, healthy person of (insert your goal weight here) than you will eventually become that fit, healthy person. And though it's not as easy as it sounds, it's amazing advice. This is how I'm trying to retrain my fat brain into my fit brain. This morning I thought, "What would fit, 150 pound Andra do?" She goes and does her workout. I made a conscious choice to listen to Fit Andra and not Fat Andra. I'm really happy I did. I feel clearer of mind and will have the energy to get through my shift this evening that I would not have had if I curled up on the couch and sulked and ate until it was time to go to work.

So what do you think about fat brain vs. fit brain? I want to hear from you.


  1. Hmmmm. I’ve never heard of it referred to as two different brains before, but I guess I would agree. They are different mindsets. Like you said, your previous mindset would call in and skip workout, where as your new lifestyle demands that even though you really don’t want to, you haul yourself out of bed and go anyway. I find that making exercise a responsibility works well. After all, I never miss work. Sometimes I don’t want to go to work, but I go anyway, because it is my job and I need money. Weight loss should be treated the same way. Losing weight is a job. The only way to earn money is to work, the only way to lose weight is exercise and diet. So, if losing weight is important, you just make diet and exercise part of your everyday routine, like brushing your teeth. Doesn’t matter if you FEEL like doing it, you just do it, because you have no choice. This doesn’t really sound appealing now that I’m writing it out, but it’s very effective.

  2. I really like that idea of living your life as your future healthy self...

  3. Andra,
    I love reading your blog, you are always so insightful. I think there is a "fat brain" vs. "Fit brain" thing going on. I've observed thin people over the years and they have an entirely different take on food than I do.
    Thanks for the inspiration, I was feeling incredibly tired and thinking up lame excuses to skip my run this evening. NO EXCUSES now though!!

  4. I agree. You absolutely do have to retrain yourself to think differently about everything. It's hard work. You are doing an amazing job. I think it's great how motivated you are!!

  5. Oooh, great post! Mine is still in training...

  6. Great post! And I think even "trained" brains need some reminders and butt-kicking sometimes. Very inspirational.