If I Only Had a (Better!) Brain

They say if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But what if you’ve tried and tried for years… and you’re still struggling? What then? I’m all for grit and determination, but what do you do when you’re in the middle ofreaching for your bootstraps for the 1000th time and you suddenly remember that other saying,the one that points out rather bluntly that “the definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Which is exactly where I found myself recently.

I’ve tried for years to turn myself into someone who is more organized, more productive, more focused and—okay, as long as we’re being honest here—thinner, too. I can’t even count how many charts and lists and systems I’ve created to help me reach my goals, or the number of diets, budgets, exercise programs, and housekeeping systems I’ve launched. I’m not afraid of starting over and I’m not afraid of working hard, but despite Herculean efforts to whip my life into shape, I still spend hours looking for my keys, my to-do lists rarely get done, I still have the attention span of a butterfly and my emotional eating continues to be triggered by pretty much any state I happen to be in, including sleeping.

About four years ago a friend of mine who knows a lot about the brain encouraged me to visit the Amen Clinic and have my noggin scanned. I scoffed and went back to trying to improve my life on my own (I think at the time I was on bootstrap-pull-up number 982). But I continued to find myself frequently overwhelmed and, when I would whine about it to John, sometimes the brain subject would come up again.

A couple months ago, I got fed up enough (with myself, not with John) that I flew to the Amen Clinic located in Newport Beach and stuck my head in a scanner. And. boy, am I glad I did.

I walked away with some pretty interesting brain scans and a diagnosis of ADD. I also came home with a whole new perspective on what my future could look like and, even better, how to get from here to there. After years of grit and determination, I’m starting to realize that sometimes the most effective way to improve your life starts with improving your brain.

You know, brain health and enrichment is a hot topic these days. We’re figuring out that sometimes when we’re plagued by recurring struggles, stubborn problems, or behavior we can’t seem to change no matter how hard we try, there’s a reason. A brain reason. I’m not trying to play the victim card here. I’m not saying we’re not responsible for our choices. But I am saying that our neurology plays a factor, and now that scientists are figuring this out, one of the choices we all get to make is whether or not to do something about it. Because in addition to realizing how greatly our neurology impacts our daily quality of life, scientists are also discovering that we’re not stuck with the brains we have—that there’s a lot we can do to change, improve and even heal our brains.

Dr. Momaya from the Amen Clinic had great suggestions for me regarding diet and lifestyle changes. (He and Dr. Amen have put together a book/CD set called End Emotional Eating Now which I love. The information on the second CD about getting freedom from negative thoughts can be applied to any subject, and every grownup, teenager and kid on the planet should listen to it. Get it if you can!). Dr. Momaya also suggested various supplements and even medication. He recommended two medications for me, one for ADD and one to calm the brain anxiety that fuels my emotional eating.

I’m considering the medication he suggested for the brain anxiety piece. But I’ve come to a different decision about the ADD part of the puzzle.

ADD/ADHD medication is a big step, one I’d like to avoid if I can. And there may be a way. In addition to writing and speaking, I’m creative director for LearningRx, a national brain training company that pairs clients with brain trainers for intense mental exercises that strengthen weak cognitive skills. Think of it sort of like physical therapy for your brain. And can you guess one of the groups that gets AMAZING benefits from the program? Yep! People with ADD and ADHD.

So I signed up for one-on-one brain training. Sixty hours over the next three months. I promise to keep you posted on what happens next.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to improve your life, I have two suggestions for you. Don’t give up. And part of not giving up is trying something new if what you’ve been doing for years isn’t doing the trick.

It’s never too late to make the changes you’ve been longing to make. And while grit and determination can take you a long way, I’m starting to realize they’ll take you a lot further with a healthy, happy brain on your side.

2 thoughts on “If I Only Had a (Better!) Brain

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  1. Your posts and your books are always inspiring and encouraging. Thanks for mentioning the Dr. Amen book…I need to read that! And thank you for the much-needed pep talk at the end of this post…needed that, too 🙂

    1. Thanks, Judith! And your note blessed me. 🙂 Life is weird, isn’t it? It’s always weirder than I think it will be, but thank goodness we’re not alone. Big hug from me to you!

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