Michelle is taking on obesity in kids. How perfect. She spoke before the Department of Health and Human Services to promote healthy eating, but what she really talked about was stress. It was the stress of being exhausted after a day of work, with no food in the refrigerator and grumpy kids. Why not call out for pizza? I believe in eating healthy food, and I do it because food takes good when you’re hungry. Continue reading
David joined our EBT group nearly two years ago. He lives in San Diego, happily married, on the road to being wired at 1. On Wednesday night, we were settled into our telegroup, a warm circle, moving through the kits, and David said, “One of the greatest gifts I have received from doing this work is learning to accept my dark side. In the past I thought that I would change and my dark side would disappear. Now I know that I can live WITH my dark side so I simply move over on the couch to make room for all of me.”
Yesterday I was at a formal medical presentation about obesity, and several people in the audience who were “healthy at any size” advocates had a lot to say. The world seems to be lined up behind the idea that fat is bad, and fat people are bad people, or at least some people experience that discrimination.
As the presenter moved through her slides what came up is what always comes up, that it is the higher ends of overweight that really pours on the health risks. I worry that fat activists have gotten so tied up in insisting that there is no discrimination for size that they have lost compassion for themselves. It is not a body fat problem, or even an eating and activity problem. All those characteristics add to stress, and stress deranges the reward circuitry, so a person has to get a fix of something that ramps up dopamine to feel normal.
The problem is way too much stress,
What happens when you know for sure that you aren’t in Brain State 2. That sweet clarity of knowing your feelings — really nailing the strongest feeling — and knowing precisely what you need is NOT going to happy. What’s more, you know for sure you aren’t in Brain State 4, because that slight lost feeling is not there. You aren’t being cut off at the knees by unreasonable expectations. Sure your expectations may be a little shaky, slightly unreasonable, but all in all, a veritable anchor: solid and sustaining. You’re in Brain State 3. Perfect. A good flurry of feelings — emotional housecleaning — and you’re back to Brain State 2 and often to Brain State 1.
What do we know about Brain State 3? Continue reading
Brain State 2 often is under-rated. It is the “meat and potatoes” state in which the brain is working as it should. Into the limbic brain flows input from all the senses, from the body, emotional memories, unconscious expectations and thoughts. In an ongoing flow of functionality it sizes up all the potential threats and rewards, prioritizes them, then settles on an emotion. That emotion is the message to the neocortical brain that is evolutionarily-based, and the sign post that directs us to meet our most important need. The strongest emotion points to the most important need.
Before neuroscience started informing our thinking about emotions, it wasn’t hard to figure out what pleasure was: it was anything that felt good.
Now we have become more knowledgeable about pleasure. We now know that Hedonic pleasures, the sense of meeting basic drives and getting a neurotransmitter high from sugar, fat, cigarettes, alcohol, spending, etc. has been shown to be dangerous. If we depend upon them, we’d end up sick, addicted or both.
While we have been learning about the down sides of Hedonic pleasures, we have also be learning about a different category of pleasure: Eudonic Pleasure. And what is more, we are all neurologicaly capable of obtaining them.
Ever been down and find yourself opening the ‘fridge, not sure if it was leftover pizza or a cold beer that you wanted — or both?
Before Brain States people just described how they were feeling when they did this as “bad” or “down” but now we know that you are just in Brain State 4 or Brain State 5. This ability to understand what the brain is doing and separate it into discrete sections, allows us to create specific tools to effectively address stress. In developing these tools we have been looking at how other people have been using Brain States, and Bruce Perry is one of the main researchers who uses the idea of Brain States.