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Fitness 1: About habits and the myth of motivation.

June 2023 / by Cookhouse Hero

Although I was an athlete as a child and have been active most of my life (climbed Annapurna in Nepal, hiked New Zealand trails, skied the German Alps, swam crazy-long distances in Thailand), I also let myself go in my mid-forties via reverse culture shock and getting divorced. Now I know how VITAL movement is for a healthy brain and longevity.

  • Real Food Recipes: Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete shares ten grain-green-bean recipes. LINK

  • In the News: Heart specialist and researcher Dr Scott Lear busts nine myths about exercise. LINK

  • Feeding Families: The Nourished Child recommends 21 high-protein plants for young athletes. LINK

Fitness 1

(mind over matter has an expiration date)

CH BLOG - June 2023 / © by Cookhouse Hero / Reading time: 2.75 minutes

The notorious Nike ad - Just Do It - is still motivating and iconic.

     I recently saw the film Air (2023), directed by Ben Affleck and starring Matt Damon, about how basketball legend Michael Jordan signed with Nike, who created the iconic Air Jordan athletic shoe. I felt so passionately inspired by its overall message of hard work = excellence, that I went home and took a long walk along Lake Michigan. While walking, I thought about how UN-motivated I am sometimes. More often than not, I just don't feel like it. And this coming from a former athlete and active person for the majority of my life. So, what's the wall for me and others who want to get (and stay) fit, but find the entire process daunting? I sense we would benefit if we stopped relying on inspiration and feeling like it, and instead focused on Nike's Just Do It message: stop thinking and start moving. Other obstacles we collectively experience include: nutrient-deficient foods, excess weight, stress, lack of sleep, horrible jobs, and toxic relationships. So I ask, do we ever feel like breaking up with a harmful person, company, or habit? Do we want to go to bed early? 

If we wait until we feel  like doing something, we might be waiting until we're food for fungi. 

In other words... Just Do It.


So, what's up with motivation and the inner workings of our brain?

     Our brain works at optimal levels only when we eat nutrient-dense foods AND exercise. Other ways to create brain health are learning new things, travel, and sex (good to know). Everything is important, not just food and not just movement. Side note: if you're someone who thinks that exercise alone can solve our health issues and excess weight (while not prioritizing food choices)... please think again. Consider that when our brain is fed well via nutrition and oxygen, the excuses-filled rationalizations against getting off the sofa can have a fighting chance to fade away. Also, have you heard of dopamine? It's a powerful feel-good drug that seems to be calling the shots in our grey matter. It's so alluring, that we're getting too much of it in modern forms like the need for likes-scrolling-clicking, or the need to binge-watch the latest Netflix series (disclaimer: I love Netflix). It's kinda like shooting heroin; inside the brain, addiction is addiction. On the flip-side, dopamine can have a positive effect when used as a carrot-on-a-stick gift from the Universe. 



Dopamine has two faces: one that keeps us addicted to electronic devices and one that creates a feel-good high as a reward. This means we have more power over this neurotransmitter than we realize.


What to do?

     With life-changing decisions, it first takes a clear mind and a toolbox of knowledge (so eat brain foods like blueberries, raw walnuts, and 72%+ dark cacao... and click the links below). A few points to ponder: motivation is a myth; dopamine can make us addicted to a sedentary lifestyle; dopamine can offer a feel-good high as a reward (which can inspire us towards consistent action); selling the myth of motivation makes marketing moguls, fitness gurus, and quack-cure psychologists rich. By the way, the myth of motivation is central to Big Food/Beverage's smoke-and-mirrors tactic of 1) fully blaming people's ailments on laziness due to a lack of motivation, and 2) shifting the focus away from their illness-creating products and placing it on fitness as the panacea to health. As for taking action vs not taking action, we can learn about what James Clear calls "atomic habits" as a smart pathway towards daily choices to move our body. He asks people one ah-ha moment question: can we commit to doing something for two minutes? Yes? Start small. Choose movement. 


Just do it.

Click on the links below to get pumped up for diving into into the Fitness Zone!

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