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Retrain your brain to stick with fitness goals


BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – Many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or improve their fitness, but sticking to them can be a challenge.

Doctors say there is an area in our brain that can kill our motivation and has caused many people to try to stop dieting or exercising.

Dr. Franchel Hamilton joined First News at Four to discuss what causes the so-called “stop trying dilemma”.

  • There is an area in our brain that kills our motivation called the habenula.
  • The habenula is activated by previous failures and the kill switch motivation and activates an anti-rewarding pathway.
  • This has caused many people to stop trying diets or exercise or give up on New Year’s resolutions.

“One of the things I recommend people do is use curiosity as one of their fuels to help motivate them,” Hamilton said. “Be curious about things that work and what don’t. For example, if people are afraid of starving themselves from these deprivation diets or giving up sugar, that’s a mechanism of the brain that isn’t going to work, so be curious about other adjustments you can make.

A few solutions that can help people stick to their goals:

  • If you don’t want to activate the habenula, be curious, find things that are doable and fun and if something doesn’t work, don’t repeat it, but make an adjustment.
  • Understand the process and realize you need to keep switching to something else when one process isn’t working.
  • Have a designer mindset. Adjust and try different things but never fail.
  • Get out of the short-term headspace. . . it takes a long time.
  • The call to action: to have a new mindset—a creative mindset—and be fueled by curiosity, not just motivation. Be able to design your healthier lifestyle to suit you; We have to understand that it takes time. It’s always a lifestyle change.

Dr. Hamilton is a Triads Award-winning, Board Certified Surgeon who has given up operating on the stomach to operate on the mind to treat chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes.