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The Brain and Obesity. Part 3 – The Modern Brain

The Brain and Obesity. Part 3 – The Modern Brain

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Are You Ready for Part 3?

Welcome back to the brain and obesity series! In part 1 and part 2, I would say we covered the old man primal brain in pretty good detail. The driver of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. So, where does the so-called modern brain come in? The police officer that pulls the old man over? Not quite. I like to think of the modern brain as a teenager that is riding shotgun while texting. In typical teenager fashion, they think they know everything and are pretty dope, as the kids of my generation would say.

Similarly, our modern brain gives us the idea that it is in complete control. Making calculated and logical decisions for our life without the interference of emotions, feelings, or biases. All the while telling you how the brain is the most incredible and complex organ in the entire human body. Common traits of narcissists include feeling they are always in control and that they are pretty amazing – just sayin’.

Introducing the Modern Brain

Anywho, the modern brain, the prefrontal cortex, or our executive functioning as it is sometimes regarded, is the part of our brain that separates us from the animals. Animals still have one, but ours is considerably more developed – in most people at least. Our modern brain allows us to plan ahead, organize our day, prepare meals, go grocery shopping, solve problems, etc. Certainly, all important things, and we wouldn’t have the advanced civilization we do without it. Now it is not that the modern brain has no control over the primal. In fact, it can exert a considerable amount of power at times. This is semantics, but I would argue it’s more of an influence vs. control. Hence why we are able to endure hard and painful things, such as choosing the apple over the apple pie, listening to politicians speak, and depending on how much you enjoy my writing, reading this blog post. You do all of these things voluntarily. Your primal brain is wired to seek only pleasure and avoid pain; therefore, it would never endure the above if it had its way. It would be crushing apple pies, watching p*rn, and use my blog post to start a fire.

The Modern Brain’s Influence

Now, in order to influence the old man, the teenager can either aggressively grab the steering wheel and turn the car in the direction they want to go or learn what makes grandpa happy or find a way to lull him to sleep so the teenager can ultimately get what they want. In the first case, think about those times you have gone on the latest diet craze. You were able to eat the foods, cut out the carbs, drink fairy dust or whatever mystical product Susan recommended you take to lose weight, and you were likely able to lose some weight. However, eventually you ‘fell off the wagon’ and gained the weight back. In this case, the old man managed to pull out his cane and started to beat the teenager back to get control of the car again, and off you go towards your old patterns and behaviours. Let’s remember before you send me an angry email, this is an analogy. No teenagers or elderly individuals were actually harmed.

In the second circumstance, the teenager finds a way to align the old man’s wants and feelings with their own. The old man then ‘allows’ the teenager to start steering! However, if this balance is lost, which usually occurs due to external pressures or stressors, the old man will drive that car to Mexico. But with practice, around strategies, and learning to sit with our emotions, that teenager can get pretty good at dealing with those stressors and keeping the old man happy.

Now before we jump to influencing and finding a way to sedate the old primal brain, there are a couple things you need to know about the modern brain: 

  1. It’s lazy 
  2. It gets tired quickly 

I told you it is like a teenager or perhaps that 20 something year old that is currently laying on your couch, unemployed, eating all your food, and cutting into the plans you had for retirement. But, at least you both now have something more in common?

What’s Next?

Maybe this is actually going to be a 6 part series? We’ll see! Ya, my teenage brain is feeling a little rebellious. It is mostly just tired and lazy today, so I am going to make you wait for part 4 before I jump into what exactly I mean by your modern brain being a lazy turd that you no longer enjoy being around!

Stay tuned. Of course, always remember: Small Tweaks, Lead to Massive Peaks!

Dr. Dan

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