Saturday, July 12, 2008

6 Pack Quest Secret: Heart Over Head

Have you tried to build the body of your dreams before, only to fail for no apparent reason? Did you have lots of logical reasons in mind for why you should stick with it, but give up anyway? Don't feel bad. There's a good reason for what happened. You tried to follow your head over your heart when you should have done exactly the opposite. Understanding what happened will help you in Your 6 Pack Quest.

And what does that all mean? Your brain has two parts (I know its a lot more complex than that, but bear with me): a relatively recent part that thinks logically (call it the head), and a larger, much more ancient part that deals in emotions (call it the heart). The ancients thought that emotions resided in our physical hearts. Now we know that they actually reside in this ancient part of our brains. We like to think that the logical part is the part that's in control, but most of the time, the older, emotionally-driven part of the brain is in charge.

Knowing this, it's easy to see why having good, logical reasons to bust your butt and get fit don't work. The logical part of your brain has some control over the emotional side, but that control is limited and easily fails. The emotional side of your brain usually gets its way in the end. Imagine this battle going on inside your skull:

Head: We need to exercise now. Getting fit will reduce our blood pressure and improve our cardiovascular health.

Heart: My girlfriend just dumped me, and my favorite show is on. We'll exercise some other time.

Head: But we need to work out. It's the logical thing to do.

Heart: Look! A cupcake! You go work out. I'm gonna chow down.

Imagine which part of your brain is going to win that argument. This shows how futile it is to try to do something hard like completing Your 6 Pack Quest when driven by logical reasoning (your head). Your head can force things for a while, but if your heart isn't into it, you will fail eventually.

Fortunately, the root of the problem is also the solution. If your heart always wins over your head in the end, logical reasoning won't get you the abs you want. However, if you can get your heart behind your goal, there's no stopping you. Give yourself strong enough emotional reasons to transform your body, and you'll get there.

The trick is finding the emotional reason for transforming your body that lies behind the logical ones. Reducing your blood pressure and improving your cardiovascular health are good logical reasons to work out. But why do you want to do those things? What is your heart saying? Do you want to do them because your doctor says it would be good for you or because you have a family history of heart disease and you don't want to die. Do you want to lose your beer belly because excess abdominal fat increase your risk of illness or because you want to impress the cute new girl at the office?

It doesn't matter if one reason is logical and practical and the other is trivial or vain or shallow or irrational. What matters is that impressing the girl or saving your own life trigger your emotions. That's your heart talking rather than your head. Focus on what your heart wants. Concentrate on the emotional reasons to lose weight and get buff. Those are the ones that'll motivate you to walk past the cupcake, turn off the TV, and get your butt in gear. If you have good logical reasons to do it as well, that's great. They can only help. But the key is getting your heart into it. Motivating your heart over your head is the real secret to success in Your 6 Pack Quest or anything else worth doing.

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