Stretch Your Plastic Brains!

Have you read this brilliant article from WSJ – Our Amazing Plastic Brains?

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…Neuroscientists took to describing the brain as a computer. This “master analogy” … encourages us to see thought as “software” and the brain’s structure as “hardware….The unhappy practical implication of this view…is clear: Hardware inevitably degenerates with time and use. The rule for a machine is, “Use it and lose it.” Many clinicians under the sway of this analogy saw patients’ attempts to resist their brains’ decline through activity and mental exercise as a harmless waste of time.

Fortunately, a growing body of research suggests that this older view is wrong. It seems that a more accurate rule for our brains is “Use it or lose it.”

If so, are you as super duper excited as I am? Haven’t read it? Please please please click and read (yes, even if you are leaving my blog, I insist!).

 

For 10 years, both my mind and body have been constantly exposed to serious challenges, some deliberately sought, most in the form of big, fierce curveballs.

It’s also the beginning of a decade when I am constantly told “it’s time to slow down”, or “accept things as is” WHICH I INSTINCTIVELY WRITE OFF.

As a result, my brainwork has evolved in the most amazing ways. It’s tough but rewarding, scary yet deliciously exciting. A fan of neuroscience, I am happy to read that such plasticity is indeed scientifically proven and encouraged!!

Have you been told to accept a downhill decline? Did you accept or ignore the advice? What did you do? How do you feel? What WILL you be?

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Embracing the Ebbs and Flows in the New Year

Bidding goodbye to a most horrendous Year 2014. Here are a few thoughts on embracing the ups and downs of life.

We have had an extremely tough year as a family, health-wise. Happy to report that the most serious issues have been cleared. There are flickers of light, daily, to encourage us to keep going, knowing we will be rewarded in the long run.

Even after an absolutely-do-nothing recuperation during the holidays, thanks to my marvellous and supportive husband, I still do not have enough energy to share all information appropriately on this public space. However, I do want to jot down some thoughts on how I embrace the ups and downs of life.  Rather, how I have learned to and continue to improve on the fine art of embracing the ebbs and the flows, the good and the ugly.

I am sure some of you may be having challenges too, and I hope this post would somehow deliver some warm encouragement.

1. Reaching out

I have reached out to personal friends and on topic-specific online groups. Super grateful for all the support I have received from near and afar.

I have been called “brave” for sharing my health issues. It surprised me every time someone mentioned that, because for me health issues – mental, physical, known, unknown – should not be a taboo or secretive. Having said that, I do understand in many cultures, ailments are seen as kind of “imperfections”, an unfair connotation that is the focus of many health campaigns.

If you have some heath issues, PLEASE, seek professional guidance and reach out for support. I find that it is easiest to talk with friends who already/are most likely to understand the issues in question. It can be tiring, frustrating, or even discouraging to talk with people with strong and stubborn presumptions.

2. Seek and follow professional guidance

There appears to be a trend of opposing the “evil institutions” from doctors to pharmaceutical companies. Listen, yes, they are out there to make a profit/living, but their knowledge is infinitely more reliable than what you can find via googling. The key is to work WITH your medical professionals – the more you are involved, the more you ask, the more you contribute, the more you are in control of your own health WITH expert advice.

The same goes for the “soft” side of the equation such as therapies. It may be hit or miss, but (learning from experience), it is most likely a better investment than buying self-help books or going the yoga-cures-all route that are catered for the masses.

3. Learning, always

I am a silver-lining person; it is in my nature to see some goods out of a bad experience, and learn and move forward. Perhaps this is not your second nature, but why not at least try?

Think of every curve ball as an opportunity to learn. If you succeed, a HUGE pat on the shoulder!! Go brag about it!!! Go celebrate!

If not, you have some special learning under your belt, which translate into advantages in the next round. See, no matter what, you learn, you GAIN.

4. Fist world problem, perhaps?

Our almost-new dishwasher started leaking after Christmas. I am handwashing everything while waiting for the spare parts ad repairs. This is insanity, this is torture….and this is the acceptable reality of many people around the world.

Handwashing dishes for a finite period of time is absolutely nothing compared to the wars, famines and political uproars experienced daily by people in other parts of the world.

Perspectives help.

5. Growing old, lucky you

Remember this, each day you wake up.

Wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy Year 2015. Please help me to blog frequently and regularly in the new year 🙂

I binged, now what?

My Eating Disorder (Bulimia/Binge-eating) has resurfaced after 20-odd years, right when I was at my “fittest”, physique-wise.

 

I am documenting my thoughts, actions, and discoveries for 2 reasons:

  • To flesh out my thinking during both low and high points
  • To record the journey that I know will have twists and turns, all pointing towards recovery
  • To share insights that may help others in a similar boat

 

Source: Favim.com
Source: Favim.com

 

What Happened Today
I’ve been extremely bloated the past day or so, likely due to the aftermath of Gastroenteritis, leaving my digestive system in an extremely sluggish state. Who knew a “clogged” system could leave me so self-conscious? I feel 2 sizes larger, though my logical mind told me this is a temporary (medical) condition.

The anxiety must have been brewing at the back of my mind….till I was alone with the opportunity to binge hence silence the unease.

While the actual amount consumed was not astronomical (compared to more serious episodes), it was psychologically trying. I escaped by taking a long Sunday afternoon nap, full stomach and all.

Source: Favim.com

 

What I will do
What’s done is done. I feel extremely down but my fighting spirit and logical mind are doing their best.

I have 2 choices: (A) to give in to the slippery slope, or (B) to use this setback as another chance to prove my strategy WILL work.

I am going with (B).

My strategy is two-fold:

  • Continue with my “re-kick-start” workout programme. Endorphins, circulation, lymphatic drainage….not to mention delicious abs and strong legs. It is the best Rx.
  • Continue to write and share (and hope to attract a few comments?)

 

Today’s Discovery

 

If you know of similar sites, please let me know.

 

 

 

Go ahead, rant.

People talk about the importance friendship. Circles of friends. Professional vs Personal circles.

People talk about how through friendship one gets support, advice, kick-you-in-the-behind tough love.

All good.

BUT, have you asked yourself, do you have friends with whom you can rant, freely?

Source: shaw.ca
Source: shawtv.ca

 

Rant. Whine. Vent. Complain. Basically be negative, be annoying, be the one who tests people’s patience.

It dawns on me that a big part of my mental health hails from ranting. Admit it, everyone does it. Some too much, some not enough. I would go as far as to say, everyone should do it. Ranting in moderation contributes to well being.

I am super blessed with many friends who indulge my need to rant.  In fact, the real art of it is that one needs niches of friends to share specific types of rants. Below are some of my “rant circles”

 

  • My little sister (rant subject: our parents. NOTE: rant with lots of love!).
  • My husband (rant subject: everything. Yes, he gets it all!).
  • MyFitnessPal.com friends (rant subject: confusion and frustration regarding working out and maintaining weight).
  • Selected moms (rant subject: the ugly, frustrating, scary side of parenting).
  • 40-something peer professionals (rant subject: those “breakthroughs” from 20-somethings…didn’t we do the same thing in the 90s??)
  • Career women (rant subject: work life balance is so last century).

 

Bottom line: it is OK to rant as long as you have the right audience and you are willing to be the listener in return! 

What about you? Do you have reliable outlets to let off steam sometimes? Are you trying too hard to be positive all the time?