Wellness Word Cloud

The “Rebellion of the Brain”: it’s a poor master!

The “Rebellion of the Brain”: it’s not always your friend


I wonder if the brain is programmed to focus only on the negative!  Is this negative cognitive bias inherited from our past? Despite our best intentions for self-improvement, the brain still tells us “not to bother as you’re tired” that “we can do it tomorrow”, or “that you deserve a drink” – it’s rebelling against our best effort and carefully crafted plans …


movement can often be interpreted as pain


When people haven’t exercised for a while, movement can often be interpreted as pain.  Motivation is lacking and people give up. Now while I don’t adhere to the philosophy of “no pain, no gain”, I do wonder where this sensation of pain but physical and psychological comes from and whether it can be overcome.


There are solid reasons for this.  This model of the brain is known as The Central Governor Model and it tries to explain why marathon runners tend to collapse at the end of a marathon.


The Central Governor Model


It goes something like this.  The brain is an organ of the body that uses up a tremendous amount of resources: glucose and water and so on … and wants to survive at all costs!


So when a marathon runner “bonks” (apparently runs out of energy and wobbles about) the cause is not always a lack of energy: glucose or fats.  Did you know that just rinsing out the mouth with a sugary solution has the same positive benefit on performance as drinking it?


There still might be plenty of resources, but our brain tells us that we are tired and literally stops us from continuing…  THis is not  something that you can motivate yourself through.  The brain that has the keys to the rest of the body, literally shuts it down.


brain wants us to be lazy


The brain wants us to be lazy and will do anything in it’s power to stop us from doing what it perceives as “too much”.  It’s self-protection at it’s most elemental – almost parasitic…


This is a natural survival adaptation to harsh conditions I guess.  But we no longer live in harsh conditions, we live in a land of abundance of everything except the conditions to move our bodies as we were designed to.


And because we are much more motivated to run away from pain or potential pain than towards pleasure… we take heed of these deep sub-conscious warnings of pain and fear.  That in contrast to the benefits that we now we get from exercise.


we are so captivated by drama and gossip


In an evolutionary sense, it would make sense for the brain to be obsessed with pain and danger.  In the modern world, could this be a possible explanation for why we are so captivated by drama and gossip?  Why do we feel and remember pain so well, but not pleasure?


So it is any wonder that people engage in self-destructive behaviours?  Like, for example, over-analysing relationships that have ended? Like drinking or taking drugs that numb pain from an overly active brain?


The brain only cares about health so the extent that it keeps you alive, but it doesn’t care about physical health, happiness and self-actualization.


The brain only cares about …


It would rather just keep you sufficiently alive (breathing and eating) so that you can procreate.  lol


The brain makes a terrible master, but a great servant.


The brain makes a terrible master, but a great servant.  I believe that we have to develop our minds like a muscle in order to control it.  And like muscle work, this takes repetition.


You have to do the reps, dude!  Just rep it out!


It takes repetitions (and lots of them!) of positive affirmations (just reading a positive affirmation on Instagram won’t do) – they have to be the correct affirmations for you and for the particular task you have in mind.


All primal drives are about keeping you safe.  Perhaps feeling lack of motivation to do exercise is one of these?  it’s the brain try to keep you safe, but the brain s a terrible master because not all of it is very intelligent.  Are some of these protective measures that goes against us in modern societies examples of the intelligent brain?


These are skills, not pills …


The Central Governor is so used to our bodies not moving that when we decide to start moving for physical health, the brain rebels and hijacks our best intentions to change habits.


  1. Try “affirmations”.  I have a set of affirmations that I repeat five times a day!  I carry them in my wallet and when the alarm in my watch sounds, I take them out and repeat them.  It only takes a minute or two.  I do this five times a day!
  2. And be kind to yourself.  If it doesn’t work the first time, or even the second, keep on and eventually you’ll see the results, through sheer persistence!   And it’s exactly that persistence that’s making the brain muscle stronger, defeating the inner critic that tells you you’re no good, that it’s a waste of time, that you deserve a drink, or that you’re tired or that Netflix needs some company!
  3. These are skills, not pills and like all skills, they need to be practised and practised often.  So if your brain tells you to be lazy, get tough with it (remember it’s a poor master, but a good servant).


See you next time and happy Pilatesing,


Miguel x

  • Sharon Barber
    Posted at 10:48h, 07 August Reply

    Skills not pills. Doing Pilates makes us happy : Happy pils(Pilates) maybe.?

    • Miguel Bengoa
      Posted at 13:34h, 22 August Reply

      Hey hey hey! I loved that “skills not pills” phrase – it’s not mine TBH, but it does describe exactly what Pilates does!

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.