Friday, March 26, 2010

It's nice to know it's not just me

Last Sunday while relaxing around the estate and mindlessly channel surfing, I stopped on Channel 2 (our local PBS station) and found a program called "Change Your Brain - Change Your Body." Naturally the words brain and body sucked me in.

The gentleman speaking was Dr. Daniel Amen from the Amen Clinics and he said that his clinic had conducted over 55,000 SPECT scans of individuals' brains. He talked about how you have to know your brain type to be successful at losing weight. Since my ADD diagnosis, I had wondered how different my brain was and more importantly, how it worked. 

He sucked me even further because he started talking about the "Inattentive and Impulsive Brain Type."  He explained that the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) at the front of the brain is responsible for attention span, judgment, impulse control, organization, self-supervision, short-term memory, ability to learn from experience, critical thinking and problem solving. If the PFC is not functioning properly, those skills are at risk.  When he started to referring to this as the ADD brain, I was hooked. Tell me more!

He showed a scan of an ADD brain at rest and the PFC was active when it shouldn't have been. Then he showed the ADD brain when the individual was trying to focus/concentrate and the PFC goes dark with little activity. This means that just when the brain needs to be used for something, the activity decreases and the individual is screwed because the harder they try, the worse it gets.

So, how does this apply to weight loss? Dr. Amen explained that an individual with untreated ADD would have problems staying with a diet for very long. He gave a great example of an ADD person on a diet walking by donut shops - at the first donut shop, he is able to stay focused and walks on by. The second donor shop starts to weaken him and by the third one, he's given up and goes in for the binge, completely forgetting why he was avoiding the donut shops.

I wrote in a early post that I sincerely believe that my ADD diagnosis is the reason I was able to lose weight after so many unsuccessful attempts. While I've been on medications for almost eight years, there are still many of the issues mentioned above that I still struggle with such as short-term memory. 

Some days are good and some are bad. But having the list of skill sets that are impacted by my ADD has been enlightening. It's not just about lack of attention - there's so much more to it. 

I bought two of Dr. Amen's books, "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" and "Change Your Brain, Change Your Body." (I actually bought them while still watching the show using my iPhone and downloading the books to my Kindle app on the phone. - I am a tech goddess!)  I have this feeling that I may be talking more about this in future posts. 

It's just great to know, it's not just me!!

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