Losing Weight by Training Your Mind, Not Your Body?

[adapted from iMusic WeightLoss]


Studies have shown that it's not the quality of our diets, but our brains ability to resist cravings and follow a plan that is behind losing weight and living the slim life.


Michael Dansigner, MD, at Tufts-New England Medical Center (Journal of the American Medical
Association, January 2005)  concluded in a study that investigated four
commercial diets, that the key to achieving weight loss is not the
differences between the diets, but how well you follow them.

The year long study had 160 overweight adults split into four groups:


  • Weight Watchers (low calorie)
  • The Zone Diet (low glycemic index)
  • The Ornish Diet (low fat)
  • The Atkins Diet (low carb)

The findings were just what the docs' suspected --  each of the different
diets were effective at achieving weight loss when they were properly
followed-- but only 25% of participants were able to follow their
assigned diet for a year.

It was also found that "no single diet produced satisfactory adherence rates"-- every diet was a challenge to follow.

What does this study tell us?  That we need to stop our search for
the best diet -- stop putting the onus on the diet, stop blaming the
quality of the diet, discard our high hopes that one diet will all of a
sudden make weight loss easy, and start focusing on how to STICK to the


You have to train your mind to feel good without food, you have to give your brain the energy and self control to stick to your plan. Whatever healthy plan you choose, it is likely that you are going to have to:

* Eat less high-fat and high-sugar foods

* Drink more water, as opposed to sodas and drinks that are high in sugar

* Reduce your overall caloric intake

* Exercise each week

* Track your results over time using a method from a professional

* Follow meal plan each day

* Think positively about your self-worth, and celebrate your progress along the way

To do all of these things, you can't just decide to follow the plan and commit with motivation.  You've done this before, and you still failed, because you didn't fully manage your mind and the sway it has over your life.


The brain really is the key, but the reason isn't so obvious.


So why is your brain the limiting factor-- why does your mind cause you to veer of course when it comes to dieting?


It has to do with 3 primary factors.    The first one is your thoughts-- what you think.  Do you doubt yourself? Do you believe you can lose the weight? Chances are, you don't.  This doubt and negative outlook causes your brain to want to eat those fatty, sugary foods that are't part of your diet.


Why? Because you hate being wrong, just like everyone else. If you believe something is true then you behave as if it were.  If you think you are going to be over weight forever, if you believe that avoiding delicious and fatty foods is terribly stress creating and will make you feel miserable, than your brain will want to make decisions that support that, and the negative cycle of obesity will continue.


The bad news is, changing your outlook by thinking positively, practicing constructive self-talk or hypnotizing yourself into a change of thought isn't easy, nor is it entirely effective when done by itself, and this is simply because their are two other brain factors that are more core to the problem.


Your thoughts are more a symptom of a deeper problem-- and we've learned that it's always more effective to improve the core problem than to simply remedy the symptoms with band-aid approaches.


The core problem that you are facing, in your quest for that "Soap Opera Swimsuit Figure", is tied into the other two factors at work in your brain: your brain fitness and brain state.


What is Brain Fitness?


Your brains physical health and performance levels.  Is your brain secreting optimized and balanced levels of neurotransmitters and biochemicals like serotonin, endorphins and dopamine? Does your brain have a healthy level of dendrites and glial cells?  If your brain fitness is less than optimal, which is true for most people, than you will feel off center, slightly depressed, anxious, emotionally unhappy, moody and at the mercy to compulsions and addictive habits.  Not only will you be more prone to binge eating and snacking to compensate for your lack of complete emotional satisfaction, but you will be just as careless when it comes to exercise.


What is Brain State?


Your brain state determines how you feel during the course of your day.  Do you feel tired, scattered, erratic and disconnected for hours at a time, or do you feel energized, focused, sharp and clear?  If you feel tired and fatigued during large (or even small) portions of your day, than you are going to be less likely to a) think positively charged thoughts and feel confident about your diet plans and b) have the energy and restrain to resist "foody" temptations, and have the discipline and drive to get yourself in gear for exercise.


It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?


That's because it is.  If you are always tired and often feel a little depressed, rigging yourself to think positively, follow an exercise plan and eat healthy will be the fight of your life. But if you take care of your energy levels, balance your brain and get yourself out of that negative funk by improving your brains core-- then you are on the right track, giving yourself a tremendous edge in the war against calorie . This article has been adapted from the iMusic WeightLoss product.



Learn more about iMusic WeightLoss, a tool we've developed to improve your brain fitness and brain state in a way that makes losing pounds easier than ever.




De-stress and release tension a non-conventional way!


gene kelly
With economic difficulties out of the horizon longer than we hoped for, stress looms over people's shoulders. A back rub would be great.

We bet that if you were to inquire with your local health club we would find a rise in the number of patrons' visits. Funny it is that we're so stressed about money and yet go out and spend more money to de-stress.

Zen Habits has an interesting post about 8 Unconventional Ways to De-Stress and Release Tension. Get a load of this: 1. Massage your ears; 2. Finger paint; 3. Strip down your living room; 4. Try laughing yoga; 5. Procrastinate (??!!!); 6. Be brutally honest; 7. Dance in the rain; 8. Enjoy a "staycation."

Side note: Out of curiosity, I tried massaging my ears and it works!

"Start by gently rubbing your earlobes with your thumb and index finger. Then squeeze the outer edges of your ears all the way to the top. .... Finish by using your index fingers and middle fingers to massage behind the ears on the bony part of your skull."

It says that an ear massage makes your brain release endorphins -- your happy hormones. It appears that your ears have tiny reflex points that relax certain parts of your body. Go ahead and try it!

The rest of the tips are also great. Some may sound a bit crazy, e.g. dance in the rain (and singing too, a la Gene Kelly?) but they're actually pretty easy to do. Don't cost you a penny either!

For an easy, take-it-anywhere, do-it-anywhere de-stresser, check out iMusic's ZenMeditate here.

The Biggest Loser: Lessons in Winning

biggest loser

The Biggest Loser is a Reality TV show about overweight individuals trying to outweigh (no pun intended) other contestants by losing the most lbs to win the cash prize. The biggest loser wins.
The contestants undergo grueling training sessions and challenges to make it to the final cut, but the most exciting part, we think, is when the finalists are sent home before the show's season finale on Dec. 8. You know, coming home to your family could also mean being served the usual food or diet you've been eating all your life prior to joining the contest. Oh yes, they may help stop you from eating what they're eating. They may try to make some adjustments but, generally, they're still going to eat the same food, the same amount, and the same mouth-watering stuff that you've enjoyed all your life. And you bite your lips in agony.

We could easily understand a finalist cursing those suits from NBC for coming up with this crazy idea of sending them back home prior to the season finale.

To win The Biggest Loser, you have to have control. And you can't do it alone or else, you would be like a can of gasoline thrown in a barbecue pit.



To win The Biggest Loser, or any other similar struggles in life, you got to have support. Whether you are looking at losing weight, quitting smoking or drinking, getting good grades, or performing well at work, don't do it alone. You got to have support from people around you.


From The Biggest Loser team themselves, here are some of the qualities you should look for in your support person/s:

1. Non-judgmental. What you need is a supporter, no one who would judge and criticize you for every decision you make.

2. Positive and inspiring. If you suffer setbacks, helps you back on track and helps you see how to move forward to your goals.

3. Good listener. Really listens to what you are saying.

4. Altruistic. Really cares about you succeeding and would go out of his way to help you achieve your goal. Last thing he'd do is to do anything that would sabotage your efforts.

5. Reliable. You can count on him whenever you need help.




For support on the fly, you can turn to iMusic's arsenal of products that can be deployed in just 6 minutes - anytime of the day. We recommend IvyFocus, and/or BrainAmp with the FitDrive Suite, and EnergySuite. These additions to anyone's training library trigger peak performance and easily puts you in the "zone." Eliminate pre-exercise mental sluggishness and resistance with just a touch of a button. To find out more, visit us here and click on "key features and benefits"

Chocolate Reduces Stress, Good for the Heart

sinful choco

And you thought that it was just the psychological effect of having something pleasurable and decadent as a sinful serving of dark chocolate brownie that gave you that much-needed picker-upper. It turns out there's an actual good chemistry that happens in your, umm, tummy after you lick the last of that devilish goodness from your lips.

A study conducted on (some obviously happy) volunteers showed lower levels of stress hormones in their urine and blood plasma samples after ingesting less than one and a half pounds of dark chocolate. These volunteers were selected for their high stress levels prior to the two-week experiment.

This development is the latest among recent findings about chocolate's benefits like helping prevent blood from clumping up, keeping your heart healthy. Dark chocolate is even reported to provide some anti-cancer benefits.

But hold it! Before you go and splurge on wanton sweetness, the same experts warn about forgetting the word "moderation." Don't forget about the excess fat and sugar that goes with each heavenly bite.

Stress: Recognize it, deal with it!

Stress can be detrimental to your over-all mental and physical state, says Eli Bay. It is not only your mood that is affected by it, stress affects your entire body like a cancer creeping in upon system after system. For us here at Volition Thought House, what is most alarming about this is that stress shrinks and destroys the neurons in the hippocampus - the brain region associated to memory.


It doesn't matter how high your IQ is, it doesn't matter how excellent you are as a worker or as a student. When stress sets in, you're in trouble. To make things worse, you may not even notice that you're in stress. You'd be like riding a bicycle with the handbrakes on.


It will help to always be on the lookout for signs of stress, especially during periods of prolonged crunch times in your studies or work. Remember, you cannot fight it if you do not recognize it.


For a surprisingly easy 5-minute stress buster, check out this link. Canada's celebrated icon in stress control, Eli Bay, walks you through it. You'll be amazed at the immediate positive results.


Clear your mind. Be more focused and calm. Recognize stress, then deal with it!

You May Be Getting Fat Because You Don’t Enjoy Eating Much

No, there's nothing wrong with the title of this post - obesity, really may be caused by one's diminished ability to enjoy eating.

You know, like, you need to ingest more than one quarter-pounder before you experience the pleasure associated with eating burgers - you need more than what others would eat before you get satisfied? The difference is caused by the amount of dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Having fewer dopamine receptors in the reward centers in the brain have been found to cause obesity.

This condition of having fewer pleasure receptors in the brain's reward centers makes one want to eat more to compensate for the deficiency in reward or pleasure that accompanies the eating experience.

...And we thought Oprah's battle with the bulge stemmed from her enjoyment of fatty and sugary foods! However, Dr. Eric Stice, at the University of Texas, says the contrary in his report published in the journal Science. His research suggests obese people find these foods less satisfying so they tend to eat more to experience the pleasure associated to eating.

The UT team of Dr. Stice worked alongside researchers from Oregon Research Institute and brain experts from Yale University School of Medicine, and conducted experiments on volunteers by "counting" their dopamine receptors in the pleasure or reward centers of the brain through fMRI. Those found with fewer dopamine receptors were found to be at greater risk for unhealthy weight gain.

Stress may cause loss of your gray matter

 U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan represent a large number of people whose lives are marred by stress. The Pentagon estimates that 30 percent of these returning veterans will be afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Experts report that examination of the brains of these soldiers has shown 5 to 10 percent loss of gray matter volume, indicating neuron damage.

The question then was, "Do you get PTSD because you have a small hippocampus?" Or is a small hippocampus the result of stress?

The debate about which one comes first has been in the scientific community for some time. However, Designer Brain Blog wrote last year that stress can literally shrink and destroy your hippocampus--the brain region associated with memory and a study published in Science Direct supports this as they reported that loss of gray matter, "represents an acquired sign of PTSD consistent with stress-induced loss." The so-called neurotoxicity hypothesis also supports this view when it said that, "stress precedes volume reductions in the hippocampus in PTSD."

Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University suggests that stress may cause the death of neurons, Bruce McEwen at Rockefeller University said that stress can shrink neurons or lose their interconnectivity within the brain's network.

Stress is a normal survival instinct.

Compared to a relaxed state, stress can be good in the sense that it could pump up adrenaline to make you react with more power for a quick burst of energy for survival reasons, it could heighten memory functions, helps in immunity, less sensitivity to pain, etc..

The kind of stress that we should try to avoid is chronic type. Cortisol, the same hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands to give you that "useful" kind of stress becomes your enemy when it floods your body and brain due to chronic stress.

Among the many negative effects of prolonged high levels of cortisol in the blood stream, About.com places "impaired cognitive performance" first on the list - why, it shrinks your brain.

It becomes very important then that relaxation should be given a higher level of importance and priority in one's day-to-day health practices. Meditation, proper diet, exercise, enough sleep, and many other expert-recommended health and relaxation regimens should be a part of everyone's daily routine.

Among the many measures at fighting stress, meditation may be the one that gives the most immediate and more lasting result. However, self-guided meditation is not as easy as it sounds-it could take years of commitment, discipline and constant practice to truly master the techniques. Fortunately, iMusic Zen Meditate could help with the learning currve. For more info, click here.

Low caloric diet may improve memory and learning





Scientists have known that a caloric-restricted diet (consumption of less than half the usual number of calories per day) can increase life span. The Okinawans, known to represent the highest percentage of people living past 100, can be the best examples of this: they embody hara hatchi bu, or eating only until they are 80% full. However, understanding the underlying biological mechanism that brings about this has eluded experts for more than seven decades.

It was in 2007 that scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies claimed that they "finally have genetic evidence to unravel the underlying molecular program required for increased longevity in response to calorie restriction."

This discovery may have opened doors to the development of drugs that can mimic calorie restriction and reap life-prolonging health benefits, possibly without living or enduring the ascetism one may need to endure by limiting the amount of calorie to only half of what you usually enjoy.

And more.

Short-term trials on human subjects have shown that caloric-restricted diets may also result to some improvements in other areas of health such as blood sugar and insulin levels-inflammation and high insulin levels are both linked to cognitive problems. Studies in mice have shown that reduced insulin levels promote neurogenesis, or the continuous growth of neurons in the brain.

As demonstrated in a research of Suzanna Becker, of the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior at McMaster University in Ontario, "several computational theories have recently been suggested, including the idea that new neurons increase memory capacity." Separate researches also show that neurogenesis "reduce interference between memories, or add information about time to memories."

Here's the experiment:

50 healthy (normal to overweight) elderly subjects (mean age: 60.5 years) were grouped into three. The first group was subjected to caloric restriction (reduced calorie intake to 30%); the second group's diet was given a 20% increase in unsaturated fatty acid with no increase in total fat; and the third group served as the control.

At the end of three months, among the other changes noticed on the subjects, the caloric-restricted group showed improvement in recall ability, "and they also made fewer errors. Their memory improvement tended to be correlated with reductions in blood insulin and markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein and TNF-alpha). Memory did not change in the other two diet groups."


Exercise, good diet, and lots of sunshine are good for mental health





Your doctor would always tell you, "exercise, good diet, and a lots of sunshine" would keep you fit and healthy. He could never be more right. In fact, recent findings in brain research point to exercise, good diet, and lots of sunshine as three important factors to a better mental health.


In a study that will be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Neurobiology of Aging, as reported in the January 8 edition of the CBC News, it has been proven that a healthy body means better blood flow to the brain, which translates to improved cognition. Marc Paulin at the University of Calgary said, "Being sedentary is now considered a risk factor for stroke and dementia."

Good Diet and Lots of Sunshine

Increasing your vitamin B12 intake could also prevent your brain from shrinking and protect you from memory loss or dementia.

On the other hand, vitamin D is ‘Mental Health Aid,' says a BBC News article. In a study conducted on 2,000 people aged 65 and over, they found out that the level of cognitive impairment is inversely proportional with vitamin D level; those with lower vitamin D have higher cognitive impairment.

Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, and vitamin D fortified milk, cereals and soya drinks. Incidentally, these types of foods are also good sources of vitamin B12.

You can also get vitamin D from sun exposure. It is important to note then that people living in the northern hemisphere, those living in countries with dark winters and less sunshine, would need more vitamin D supplements. Older people's skin also tends to absorb less sunshine so they would need to have more vitamin D from other sources.


At 62, Stallone’s six-pack could send more men huffing and puffing in gyms



Stallone is such a bad-ass at 62!

Today, men (and some women) all over the blogosphere are gawking at this picture with disbelief and amazement.

"Photoshopped!" Cries some.

"Steroids!" Cries another.

 "Not fair!" Cries a teary-eyed 30-something.

Before you start biting your elbow with envy, listen up, y'all.

Although Stallone admits to using HGH or Human Growth Hormone, he spends countless hours pumping iron. With his upcoming slate of high profile productions in the works, he's disciplined and motivated to stay on his fitness program to achieve such a finely sculpted body. You see, HGH or even steroids alone couldn't give you a to-die-for body like what he's got. Popping a pill or drinking all those protein mixes, and then sleeping or pigging-out in front of the TV set won't give you those abs - working out would.

Reality check: it's not easy to maintain an exercise regimen, let alone staying on one. Although it takes a lot of motivation to get on a physical fitness program, we all know it's not impossible.


ZenHabits recommends 31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise. One of the ways is to look at cover models. "For some reason, looking at how good the cover models look helps motivate" us to work harder. So go ogle at Stallone's abs. Did I mention he's 62 years old?

Another way -- and a more scientific, doctor-tested way, is by listening to iMusic FitDrive while you workout. Having iMusic FitDrive on your iPod while you exercise will propel your workout sessions and recovery rates to "a level never previously experienced."

Lack of motivation is the problem, you say? iMusic FitDrive tunes you into "the zone" and helps you get into that peak mental state for fitness training. And no, you don't need to cheat with steroids. No chemicals to pollute your body and mind. It's just music - and it's called FitDrive.