Did you know you have a superpower? Yep, it's true. We all have it no matter our age or ability. It’s neuroplasticity! Your brains ability to rewire and grow when challenged.
It’s the reason I can confidently say it’s never too late and anything is possible. You can grow, learn new skills, be active & agile at any age.
But, there's a catch. It only happens when you challenge yourself outside your comfort zone and do lots (and lots) of repetition to cement in that new healthy habit or skill.
As a physical therapist working in brain injury rehab these past 20+ years, this was my job. Provide tons and tons of opportunities that challenged the patient who had injured their brain to use their weak side so they could walk and function better.
It's called a "forced use approach" to regaining muscle function (motor control). You're trying to turn on the weak muscles and create new pathways in the brain to help the body move better.
My patients all learned the easy way to move on their own using their strong side. Sometimes on day 1 of their injury. It wasn’t efficient and it limited their ability to reach their full potential functionally, but it was easy for them to pick up on their own.
That’s what your brain will do if you don’t challenge it. It’ll find the easiest way for you to function but most likely will keep you small and limited. And if you don't use it, you LOSE it. This is true whether it's a goal to improve your physical, mental, or emotional health.
Typically, every new habit or goal you want to achieve is outside your comfort zone. It's not something you are used to doing. You've got to learn some new skills to accomplish it. Turn on some new brain cells (neurons) and make new pathways.
And as soon as you decide you’ve got a new goal, whether it’s from fitness to finances, you brain is going to resist with fear and sabotaging behaviors. We all experience this. We always will no matter how healthy, successful or happy we are.
The research shows not even a life-threatening diagnosis of say cancer or heart disease will encourage most people to change their diet or behaviors like smoking. I can’t tell you how many patient’s I saw pushing their IV pole outside of MD Anderson Cancer Center for a cigarette during a chemo break when I worked in the Houston Medical Center.
Your brain is just trying to protect you. Keep you safe (in your comfort zone.)
That’s why I love a good brain hack. It might be from the support of a coach or therapist, a shift in mindset, or adding a new mantra to your bag of tricks. The more tools you have to deal with resistance and limiting beliefs, the better.
It takes practice and repetition, but the good news is that IT IS POSSIBLE to rewire your brain to accomplish any skill, goal or healthy habit you desire.
I've got 3 brain hacks to help you snap out of it when you start sabotaging. #3 is brand new so be sure to test it out.
3 BRAIN HACKS TO HELP YOU PLAY BIG & TAP INTO YOUR SUPERPOWER
1. OVER-DOER HACK: If you have a tendency to go too hard, too fast and end up burnt out when you set new fitness goals, I share how to avoid the burn out zone and get back on track in this previous blog post.
2. PROCRASTINATION HACK: I teach my private coaching clients how to use the 5 second rule (from Mel Robbins) to help shift from anxiety and resistance when you're in slug mode into taking action as you build your new habits.
This simple brain hack helps you shift from using your amygdala (fear, fight or flight area) to your front lobe (higher mental processes such as thinking, decision making, and planning as well as the happiness area of brain).
How to do the 5 second rule: Count backwards from 5 to 1 and state something that will trigger you to get up and exercise, eat better, etc. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on or anxious about. Example: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1- I’m excited to go take a walk with my dogs/run/eat kale.” Or “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -I’ve got this.” The more you do this, the more you are laying down new paths in your brain for healthy habits. More on Mel
3. OVERWHELM HACK: Here's the new brain hack I’ve just picked up that I want to share with you.
I got to see Marie Forleo speak recently in Austin for her new book, Everything is Figureoutable. She's so fun and inspiring. It’s her best personal growth trainings all in one place.
Marie's a master at breaking things down and getting you into action. She shares how you can use the phrase “Everything is Figureoutable” to get out of overwhelm and problem solve any issue.
Whether you’re new to her or not, I recommend you check it out. Learning this one belief and the science behind it can change how you approach everything in life.
I loved her chapter on FEAR. She makes the case that fear might just be telling you to do it vs signaling danger.
Fear could be your signal that it’s OK to go outside your comfort zone (i.e. take the new job, try the new exercise class, learn another language, etc). Which boom, that’s gonna help you tap into your superpower, neuroplasticity, on your own!!!
I’d say her book is right up there with The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks and Mindset by Carol Dweck for helping you with limiting beliefs that keep you stuck and small.
If you’ve got goals and dreams that you aren’t making progress toward, keep hitting the same road blocks, or don't know how to get out of overwhelm, I know you'll find this book helpful.
Test out and add these 3 brain hacks to your self-care tool box to help you play big and challenge your mind and body. Anything is possible when you tap into your superpower, neuroplasticity. Use it to help you keep moving forward on your fitness journey.
Wishing you a life without limits!
P.S. Feeling stuck or need some 1/1 support? Let’s chat. Book a Power Half Hour with Mollie. We will brainstorm, problem solve, and generate ideas or resources to help you figure out your next steps or get you back on track to becoming a more mindful athlete or healer.
Mollie Miller, PT