Exercise and The Brain (Part 2 of 3): Destroying Cravings One Session At A Time


It had been a few months since Fillious's arrival in the kingdom and things had been relatively quiet.  He had been tasked with helping King Ragnyre build some semblance of a respectable army.

He removed his mighty sword from its scathe, swinging it to and fro in a slow manner, getting the group to emulate what he was doing.  Practice sessions were long but Fillious found the more he held them, the more the men actually wanted to learn, to practice.  It was classes held after the days off that they seemed to be unmotivated and slip up.

“What is your name, squire?” Fillious approached a young man he saw clearly struggling with the battle movements of the day. The frazzled student looked up, an obvious terrified expression painted across his muddied face. 

“Hershiel sire.” His voice was mousy and quiet, matching the frame of a farmer's son.

“Well Hershiel, imagine I am a demon knight and I have slain your family in a fit of unbridled evil.  Are you going to swing your sword at me like that?” Fillious raised an eyebrow. The rest of the men paused, staring eagerly at what was about to happen.

“I guess not, sire.”

“Then grip your sword, Hershiel and attack me!” His voice boomed across the courtyard, drawing attention from the townsfolk as well. A gathering started to form, making the young man even more intimidated. Good, thought Fillious. Either he will break down or shape up. This was his moment to no longer be the weakest link.

“Swing at you?”

“By the Gods I will swing first, young man,” Fillious mouthed, a tinge of anger in his voice. They would remember today's lesson well, regardless of how this man reacted, motivation to go home and practice in their cabins instead of playing cards or singing Bard's tales. Fillious gave off a mischievous smile. He knew deep down they would always remember.

Twenty four hours in a day is a long time. Subtract your standard eight or so hours of required sleep and that's still sixteen hours where your mind has to be more powerful than your body, to control the urges that come and go within that time frame. One such urge is eating even though you're not hungry. Eating just to eat. Maybe the game is on and you want to pour a big bowl of chips.  Or your Mom just called to talk about Aunt Jane's new boyfriend and a spoon is making its way into the ice cream tub as your head is pressed against the cordless phone.

We eat out of habit more than anything, which is why exercise is so vitally important to a successful diet. It gives your mind the power to ward off the urges. It gives you back CONTROL of what you put in your body. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Take for example a recent study done by the Brigham Young University. They took 18 women of normal weight and 17 women who were overweight and had both groups work out for 45 minutes in the morning.  They also had the groups NOT work out on other days. The results were telling but not surprising. When either group of ladies worked out in the morning, they had a substantially lower appetite throughout a 24 hour period then on the days they didn't. In other words, who wants to ruin an awesome early morning workout with a late night snack? NOBODY! You are much more likely to fight off the cravings after putting in all that EFFORT in working out.

The same goes for the men out there. Another research group, this one published in the American Journal of Physiology, worked with eleven healthy males. They were tracked on days of 60 minutes of aerobic workouts and some weight training as well.  On the days they worked out, their eating patterns were noticeably smaller then on the days they rested. Same kind of study, same results. You strengthen your mind, training it not to sabotage the wonderful results your accomplishing.

While not fully understood yet by science, there is a clear connection between working out and giving you the mental focus to eat in smaller amounts and eat smarter.  Think of the exercise as the lesson for the day, your body following your mind's lead. After all, who want's to ruin an awesome session with a cheeseburger later on? NO ONE! Confidence is built on success. Your brain knows it and now you do too. Leave us a comment and tell us how you deal with your cravings!

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