How Your Personality and Thinking Impact Weight Loss

healthy, personality, diet, rest, exercise, nutrition

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Is this cold, foamy glass of beer half full… or half empty?

Do you even like beer?

What are your thoughts on consuming alcohol, in general?

Got you thinking, didn’t I?!

Your knee-jerk response to this photo and then the more thought provoking questions can tell much about your personality and thought patterns.

The food that you feed your body is its source of fuel. In many cultures, there is starting to be a very large disconnect between food as fuel. Instead, convenience and flavor have become the primary drive for what type or quantity of food is consumed, regardless of quality and need. There is a market with a movement toward food as pleasure.

Identify Your Needs

Do you sometimes feel like coffee is your primary fuel source? Soda? Donuts or chips?

These foods tend to be a preferred “fuel” because they provide an immediate surge of energy when you are most likely in need of a recharge. The reason for this is chemical, triggering both emotional and physical reward circuitry in your brain as your body responds to the met need for an energy source.

Fortunately, evidence-based research tends to show that a healthy, real food lifestyle diet can be enough on its own to positively influence energy and weight loss-even without adequate rest and added exercise. And while chips and soda provide a temporary energy, it will have a lasting, negative impact on your health and weight loss goals.

Food is the fuel that your brain uses to then process information, make informed decisions, and create meaning. The macro and micro-nutrients in the food are used by your body to regulate, absorb, and create chemical reactions in support of healthy body and brain functions.  If you’re feeling sluggish and unable to really motivate yourself to lose weight, I’m here to tell you that you should change your food “fuel” to set yourself up for weight loss success!

Image result for micronutrients

While sufficient rest and weekly exercise is extremely healthy for your body, you could almost get by with minimal attention to rest and exercise when you are eating and properly absorbing the food that your body needs. How many skinny people do you know that don’t exercise? I can think of quite a few!

Cravings Vs. Hunger

For starters, how do you know if what you want to eat is due to a nutritional deficiency or just something you want to eat because you enjoy it? I mean, our purchased food today is chemically engineered and designed to make us crave it (salt:sugar:fat trifecta flavor combination).

What about all of those food charts that pair cravings to nutrients.  Are they valid?

Better Raw By Tayna differentiates cravings from hunger perfectly:

“Cravings are not quite the same as hunger, in fact they couldn’t be more different. Hunger is controlled by the stomach and craving by the brain. Hunger is all about your survival mechanism and craving is all about your body communicating with you.”

She also has the most comprehensive Food Cravings Chart I’ve yet to see (view her full post here).

“Tanya Maher is the founder of the ultimate wellness company BetterRaw.com, co-founder of a high-end gourmet raw café chain TanyasCafe.com, creator of the Amazon #1 best selling DVD ‘Raw Food 101’ and author of Hay House’s ‘The Uncook Book’, out now. Born in Russia, raised in New Zealand and now pioneering the clean eating movement in the UK, Tanya has been hailed as one of most recognised experts in the world of raw food and the UK’s top wellness coach, by the likes of Vogue, Daily Mail and Women’s Health.”

TIP: Can you “wait it out” or distract yourself from it? Are you just thirsty? The body confuses its need for hydration with the signal for food!  Or, is there a pattern to your urge to eat something?

Let’s take a look at how your personality and thinking can create nutritional deficiencies; those cravings originating in your brain is telling you something!

 

The qualifier is this: how healthy is your diet, and what type of personality do you have?

Have you considered the synergistic relationship between how you think, act, and make decisions to your overall health and well being?

Are you familiar with the expression, “Two peas in a pod?” or,  “Like mother, like daughter?”  Do you have a close friend whose lifestyle and choices seem to mimic your own? Likewise, do you have the same struggles, ups and downs, and find yourself on similar cycles?

In fact, you have even more in common than you realize- your thought processes are depleting the same nutrients within each of your bodies, leading to your brain and body utilizing the same nutrients at a faster pace than others.  This is why you probably find yourselves struggling with the same moods and pitfalls.

There are two distinguished authors I’d like to introduce you to whose fields of study help explain this relationship between food, nutrition, and personality:

  • Psychologist and neuroscientist Elaine Fox, PhD, author of Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain (2012)
  • Nutritional psychiatrist Michael Lesser, M.D., author of The Brain Chemistry Diet(2002)

To start, how you think and feel is simply a series of chemical reactions that are wired together in certain neuronal patterns.  Habits, repetition, the nature verses nurture debate, reward, automaticity and pattern, unconscious and attentive thought are just a few influential variables that impact these chemical reactions. Those reactions impact your weight in multiple ways.

The classic, “Is your cup half empty or half full?” question, tends to be a basis for how we approach our day.  If you are a “Sunny Brain” person, it seems like you are full of optimism and just wired for success.  Those with a “Rainy Brain,” however, most often have to contend with pessimism in addition to adulting.

If you are Rainy Brain, chances are that while this is something desirable, you are actually inwardly scoffing because you contend with the reality of your brain being “unable to sustain the firing of [their] pleasure brain after initial activation” (44).

Basically, genetic factors are influenced by the hormonal regulation systems, on the neurotransmitter level, which then is utilized by the Rainy Brain or Sunny Brain primary regions.  These brain regions are physically different, require different chemical reactions, and are fueled by different micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, EFAs, amino acids).  All these aspects influence your personality, abilities, health, and productivity.

To make matters “worse” per say, the Rainy Brain circuitry has multiple pathways between the Prefrontal Cortex (your decision making region) and the Amygdala (the flight-fight and fear center).

The Sunny Brain, in juxtaposition, communicates between the PFC and the NAcc (nucleus accumbens) with one super highway each direction, channeling your decision making thoughts through the reward center of the brain.  The emotional and physical edge that people who see the cup as “full” have over “empty” just widens the productivity gap exponentially!

The great news is that habits take longer to develop and create lasting change than neurotransmitter activity modification.

Dr. Fox states that the circuits that make up RB/SB highlight what’s important: the “motivational landscape of the environment” (141); diet and mindful practice can bring about “real changes in the way that brain circuits operate” (127) and override a person’s natural tendencies (161).

A healthy diet, regardless of rest and exercise, can rewire your brain for increased productivity through neurotransmitter activity to the reward/pleasure brain region when combined with “attentional training” (161) to change the reaction to stress, depression, and anxiety.

Check out this post by the Art of Manliness for 11 attention building exercises.

Published a decade prior, Dr. Michael Lesser’s research in The Brain Chemistry Diet delves into the specific nutritional needs your body requires in order to optimize the “positive aspects of various personality types while minimizing weaknesses” (16). Again, the focus of the targeted nutrition is on the neurotransmitter activity, on which diet has a tremendous impact, and how the “brain types have distinct positive traits” and characteristic ways “of breaking down under stress” (29).

He categorizes personality traits into six groups, detailing how that trait’s thought processes create nutritional patterns that need to be supported through diet and supplementation for overall well being. He recommends higher supplementation during periods of stress to help restore balance to how each person responds to the fluctuations in neurotransmitter chemicals.

Dr. Lesser delves into what a nutritious diet and vitamin supplementation looks like for each personality trait.  Taking note of your strengths as well as your weaknesses in times of stress will help you to focus your food “fuel.”

  1. Those who are very stable and serene in their personality are labeled as “Stoic.” Their bodies thrive on high protein, moderate to low refined carbohydrates and fats, and the hormone serotonin promoting foods like walnuts, bananas, pineapple, and tomatoes.   When under stress, the body will benefit from limiting carbohydrates and processed foods in exchange for high quality, low fat protein sources.
  2. The “Guardian” personality is very faithful and loyal, very intelligent and logical.  In times of imbalance, they tend to exhibit OCD traits in an effort to account for a loss of control.  The body benefits from hormone boosting foods for increased regulating serotonin levels: high protein, limited carbohydrates, and frequent meals to stabilize blood sugar responses.
  3. “Warrior” types are extremely goal oriented, enthusiastic, and sometimes impulsive in risk management.  The characteristic way of breaking down under stress is manifested in increased impulsiveness, shorter attention span, anger, and aggressive behavior.  Maintain balance with a diet high in plant-based protein, fruits and veggies with frequent meals.  Proper hormonal balance is crucial for Warrior personalities to thrive and be productive and be effective communicators.
  4. “Star” personalities can have very long cycles of active productivity giving way to periods of quiet, introverted behavior.  They are cheerful and highly creative people that battle against thoughts of depression when they are in need of targeted nutrition.  To correct the imbalance, one must first determine if the hormone levels of serotonin and cortisol are low or high.  A diet high in healthy fats and moderate protein from whole grains, beans, and vegetables is beneficial.
  5. Those personalities who are open, outgoing, and thrive on connectedness are labeled as “Lovers.” They have strong emotions and crave security and when in distress, they tend to be anxious with physical symptoms from suppression of feelings.  Low blood sugar levels is the key issue for restoring balance in times of nutritional distress and a diet high in protein, low in refined sugar, and frequent meals supplies their body with the ability to be calm and productive.
  6. Lastly, “Dreamers” are the rarest and most complex personalities and can be mixed with other character traits listed above.  Overall, Dreamers are visionaries, full of compassion and empathy.  While they are very competent, under stress they tend to disconnect from reality and exhibit a lack of self-confidence.

Dreamers have extreme biochemical profiles and their diet is determined in part by which other type of personality tends to contribute. Regardless, not deterring from a proper diet is essential for these personalities because their brains tend to be malnourished due to shortages in micro and macronutrients coupled with blood sugar issues. The diet needs to be high protein, moderate fat, and no simple sugars and supplemented with B Complex.  Fortunately, fermented foods are high in B Complex vitamins.

I highly recommend reading Dr. Lesser’s book as he goes into specific nutritional deficiencies, foods, and supplementation dosages for times of balance and distress from stress.  If you are feeling less connected to your work, productivity, and experiencing frustration over your ability to communicate effectively with people, a healthy diet tailored to your unique personality traits and activated brain regions will bring relief.

 

Rest Minimizes the Effects of Stress on You

News flash: you can be rested and still stressed. Fortunately, rest and exercise are the emotional and physical super boosters to the foundation of diet.

Learn more about how exercise impacts your personality and productivity in this post.

Combined or not, rest and exercise multiply the benefits of diet, largely due to their ability to regulate and create hormonal balance to boost neurotransmitter activity. When you take time to rest-either emotionally or physically, you are creating more hormones, and hormones are the main players in neurotransmitter activity.

Rest is important because it reduces the amount of the stress hormone called cortisol in your body.  Cortisol issues most often play a huge role in weight gain.  Stress triggers the fight or flight response in your brain region, and if you are a Rainy Brain type of person, that is going to slow you down and distract you even more.  Since cortisol is also triggered by carbohydrates, I recommend eating a higher proportion of healthy fats like avocado, mayonnaise, eggs, and oils like coconut or olive with each meal.

With respect to diet, keep cortisol in check by minimizing sugar intake, simple carbohydrates, and caffeine. Instead, try to bulk up on veggies, healthy fats, and smoothies– made with vegetables and only one fruit.

TIP: If you need more energy, eat a small portion of a complex carbohydrate with a protein as a snack. Or, take a swig of vegetable juice! These types of real foods will stimulate your energy levels without crashing your blood sugar levels.

A Relaxed Brain

Another way to rest the body is by calming brain activity by lubricating the brain circuitry. For most people, this can be done by supplementing with an essential fatty acid (EFA) like Krill or fish oil. This will help tremendously with communication between your brain hemispheres.  Looking for a vegan, non-GMO Omega supplement instead?

EFAs are a source of healthy fats so they significantly reduce inflammation, allowing for better blood flow and nutrition to be utilized throughout your body.  This supplement is known to improve cognitive functioning and the ability to think clearly because it keeps the neurotransmitters and receptors fluid, squishy like, so that more signals can fit together for greater reception.

Relaxation Exercises to Minimize the Effects Stress on Your Personality

Just as EFAs help combat the effect of stress within the body (inflammation), you can also control how your body reacts to stress in another way: while you may not be able to avoid or remove constant stressful triggers from your lifestyle, relaxation exercises actually help to counteract the effects of stress on your body and mind:

“Yoga teaches the deliberate command of movement and breathing, with the aim of turning on the body’s ‘relaxation response.’ Science increasingly backs this claim. For example, a 2010 study put participants through eight weeks of daily yoga and meditation practice. In parallel with self-reported stress-reduction, brain scans showed shrinkage of part of their amygdala, a deep-brain structure strongly implicated in processing stress, fear and anxiety” (source).

This is great news for Rainy Brain types of personalities! I highly encourage you to rest your brain by doing even one simple breathing exercise like this: slowly breathe in through your nose and then exhale with your mouth partly open. As you exhale, focus on the sound and feeling of the air pushing past your lips as well as any other immediate sensory experience that you find pleasurable.

This breathing exercise will also retrain your brain to be more mindful of the moment and increase your joy in experiencing your life, combating stress and chronic exhaustion from whatever tasks you may be handling.

What is the science behind this?

“[Vagal maneuvers] are designed to help you stimulate your vagus nerve—which can reduce stress, anxiety, anger, and inflammation by activating the “relaxation response” of your parasympathetic nervous system….[the] HRV biofeedback works and reaffirm that diaphragmatic breathing is part of a feedback loop that improves vagal tone by stimulating the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Notably, the researchers also report that people with a higher HRV (which represents healthy vagal tone) showed lower biomarkers for stress, increased psychological and physical resilience, as well as better cognitive function” (source).

Did you know that your brain actually consolidates memories and experiences while you are sleeping? Rest is not only an important part of your physical health but also in being able to organize and store information long term.  Main point? Don’t skip your 8 hours of sleeping at night; instead, do some breathing exercises before bed to relax, making your nighttime productive as well!

Again, I’m going to stress that diet plays a huge role in stabilizing energy levels. A diet full of refined sugars and flours, processed snacks and meals, and even gluten-free baked items are going to mess with your blood sugar levels–every time. You may be ready to sit down and work and be productive but your body will not be able to self-regulate effectively if your energy levels have been impacted by irregular sugar spikes and crashes.

 

3 Energy Sources to Boost Thinking

There are three ways that you can get a good source of energy so that you have a stable mood and improved focus. The first one is emotional stability and this comes through a healthy diet and supplements that meet your Rainy (or Sunny) Brain and personality traits. This is addressed within the field of functional nutrition, where blood work and assessment can really help isolate and identify what your diet is lacking so that your brain can function at an optimal level.

In general, most people can benefit from EFA supplementation, a raw, plant-based B complex vitamin, and probiotics. Probiotics are huge because they help to stabilize your gut bacteria and the gut is directly linked to your emotional well-being. A healthy gut is a skinny waist!

Probiotics are actually a source of energy for your body as well because the beneficial bacteria work to break down carbohydrates. In addition, probiotics are necessary for a healthy digestive system, healing and strengthening the gut lining barrier.  This prevents toxins from leaching into the bloodstream and circulating into the brain, which causes damage and disease in addition to chronic inflammation.

Learn How Probiotics Can Help You Reach Your Healthiest Weight Ever (MindBodyGreen).

Furthermore, if the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system are not diverse enough or are severely diminished, studies have confirmed that depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can be statistically more prevalent. Eating a real food diet rich in probiotic foods and drinks will naturally help your emotional stability because they are high in B complex vitamins and live, beneficial bacteria for a healthy gut microbiome.

Read more on how probiotics and gut health are intricately linked to mental health:

Probiotics for Depression

Can Probiotics be Used for the Treatment of Mental Health Problems?

Effect of Probiotics on Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

The third source of energy is exercise. Exercise burns calories, which is energy for your body. Exercising in the morning– especially a high intensity interval training (HIIT) routine, and strength training will increase energy for many hours after.  Boost your weight loss by exercising with an empty stomach to burn an additional 20% more fat! (source)

A diet that consists of real, minimally processed foods (instead of boxed meals and snacks full of preservatives for freshness) will also keep your energy levels and moods stable because of how sugar influences your hormones and therefore neurotransmitters.  A real food lifestyle will help you lose weight and then maintain it.

Real food supplies your body with variety and diversity of nutrients that support a healthy brain and a healthy gut that is less reliant on mood and energy stimulants, which can pack the pounds back on in harmful ways.

Depending upon what type of personality you have and your thinking patterns, a diet rich in certain foods or proportions of protein:fat:carbohydrates will also effortlessly make your weight loss efforts more productive because your body has adequate levels of micro and macro nutrients your specific systems needs to think more clearly without added effort on your part.

Are you a bit overwhelmed about how to transition to enjoying real foods?

Don’t be! Download my FREE Daily Reset Planner + 15 page Guide to easily incorporate real foods into your day, reaping the benefits of a healthy diet!

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