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By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Tempted Then, Tempted Now

Are you able to resist temptation, or do you cave in when something irresistible beckons? Scientists state that the level of willpower we have as children extends into adulthood, particularly in emotionally charged situations. A famous test, conducted in 1970 by psychologist Walter Mischel, measured willpower in preschoolers by offering them a marshmallow, then informing them that they could either consume it immediately, or wait 15 minutes, in which case they would receive a second marshmallow. Almost 70 percent of the children opted for immediate gratification, while those who were willing to wait showed greater self-control which continued throughout their lives. This study was followed up in 2011 by B.J. Casey at Cornell University, who assessed self-control in nearly 60 subjects from the initial study. Subjects with low self-control as children still had low self-control as adults, while those with greater willpower exhibited the same self-discipline in adulthood. In addition, those with more willpower had higher SAT test scores than their impatient fellow subjects.

When Emotions Are Involved

An interesting feature about the differences in willpower in Casey’s study is that they emerged when there was an emotional component to the situation. Through neuroimaging techniques, Casey examined brain activity in subjects while they tried to ignore photos of happy faces. Subjects with less willpower had stronger activity in the ventral striatum, which is involved in processing rewards and positive social cues, while those with more willpower had more activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with impulse control. Casey concluded that individuals use their brains differently when challenged to practice self-control.

Can You Strengthen Willpower?

It may be pure torture to deal with the internal conflict of wanting that piece of cake and knowing that you are better off avoiding it, especially as the day wears on. That is because willpower seems to be a finite resource which is zapped by trying to control your temper or ignore distractions while you are at work. Any sort of decision-making process also saps us of our willpower stores. Luckily, there is a large body of research which suggests that willpower can be strengthened like a muscle, simply by training oneself regularly. You can start willpower training by redirecting your thoughts and avoiding triggers which tempt you.

Tired Body, Active Brain


Original post can be found at:


By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Where Is The Off Switch?

Have you ever been so wound up with thoughts or concerns that your brain refused to allow you to fall into blissful sleep? As long as your emotions are influenced by excessive amounts of stress, the pressure will continue to spark anxiety which will continue to rob you of sleep, even if your body is completely wiped out. A vicious cycle of insomnia not only prevents the body from getting the restorative sleep it needs, it can contribute to depression or panic disorder.

People are so busy these days that it can be a challenge to check off everything on to-do lists, so it is rather common to see folks working right up until bedtime. However, if you are having problems turning off your thoughts at night, you must break this habit and allow yourself to calm your mind in preparation for sleep. That means you need to avoid activities like housework, checking emails, paying bills, or any other activity which keeps your mind active, for at least an hour before your usual bedtime.

Anxiety and Sleep

What fuels the mind and makes it work overtime in the majority of cases is anxiety. The bed is supposed to be a place for sleep, yet many individuals lie in bed with thoughts spilling over, and are unable to get the thoughts to cease because they provoke anxiety. The chances of solving any problems while trying to fall asleep are slim, so the constant worrying only serves to interrupt much-needed sleep. Honestly, how often have you been able to solve an issue you were worried about, after you crawled in bed? Your mind will be better equipped to solve any issues which plague you if you shut off your thoughts and allow the restorative benefits of sleep to take over.

Go To Paradise

Try redirecting your thoughts by practicing guided imagery. While lying in bed, close your eyes and imagine a beautiful place, such as a tropical paradise. Breathe slowly and evenly, while imagining hearing the waves crash on the beach, and feeling the sand and the warmth of the sun. You can even play ambient sounds of the ocean to help you visualize the scene. This relaxation technique can be extremely effective in not only shutting off the endless chatter in your brain, but also in getting you to fall asleep.

If you are concerned that ideas or concerns will pop into your head in the middle of the night, keep a notebook and a pen next to your bed. Once you write something down, put the notebook away and let it go. Remember that it really can wait until tomorrow.

How Technology Is Making Us Stupid


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By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) navigation has become one of modern society’s necessary evils, making printed maps such as Thomas Guides pretty worthless these days. People with a poor sense of direction consider GPS to be a godsend, but even people like me with strong directional skills have been grateful for GPS navigation. As a matter of fact, I can no longer imagine having a car without navigation built into it (thankfully, many car manufacturers are making this feature standard in some car models), and when I travel, I make good use of the navigation application on my smartphone.

However, GPS navigation threatens our ability to mentally map our surroundings, enough to make us quite blind to our surroundings. Basically, by getting comfortable with the convenience of GPS, we have become drones as we follow the directions on the screen, and the virtual roads become more imprinted in our memories than the actual terrain on which we have traveled. This means that we never fully experience the mental mapping that usually occurs when we are fully aware of our surroundings. In addition, if we make a wrong turn, GPS systems simply recalculate, so we never learn to re-map, and instead just follow the adjusted prompts.

According to neuroscientist Veronique Bohbot, not only does the convenience of GPS decrease one’s ability to adjust or improvise an alternate route, it results in a decrease in gray matter in the seat of spatial learning known as the hippocampus. Accordingly, people who practice mental mapping on a daily basis, like taxi drivers, have more gray matter in the hippocampus than those who are not regularly engaged in mental mapping.

The virtual world which a satellite navigation system relies on also robs us of the richness of experience which comes with pausing to notice our surroundings. We should pay more attention to the real world in front of us instead of allowing technology to turn us into idiots.

Go ahead and use GPS, but try to remain aware of your surroundings as you travel around. Your brain will benefit.

The Gentle Bull


Okay ladies. Do you want to know how encourage your man to respond in a kind a gentle way when you are upset by something he has done or said? Quit bitching at him! Yes, you heard me right. I am playing devil’s advocate here and defending men who often have to deal with women completely unraveling on them.

A man usually gets utterly confused when a woman launches into a rant against him because he often strives to do things which please her. When she goes on and on with her complaints, the man feels like he has failed, and he feels emasculated. In some men, the confusion turns into anger because they simply don’t know what to do when they are pinned against the emotional ropes by a woman. A man’s brain doesn’t switch easily to the ebb and flow of a woman’s emotions, so he is often doomed to upset or disappoint a woman without ever intending to do so.

In order to have true and open communication which is constructive, both the man and the woman need to have the opportunity to voice concerns without fear of being verbally attacked by the other person. This type of communication requires effort by each person, or else it just won’t flow. However, with a little effort by each partner, issues which would ordinarily cause great conflict can be relatively pleasant and agreeable. The most important thing to remember in any relationship conflict is that the other person is not the enemy, but a partner with whom you have agreed to share your time, goals, and dreams with.

The Delicate Flower and the Bull Who Tramples On It


I have to apologize in advance if this post sounds like a man-bashing. However, it is common for women to lament that men don’t take the time to just listen to them, and to have empathy when they are emotional.

I have definitely found myself in situations in which I feel like I need to apologize for being emotional or sensitive. I am never allowed to be upset, and I have to swallow everything upsetting thing like a bitter pill. I know that men and women speak different languages, but I will never understand why it is a problem if I happen to quietly voice a concern over an event which made me feel like a boot scraper at the front door. When my feelings are ignored, I can quickly progress from nice and sweet to angry.

Women don’t expect men to agree with them. They expect men to understand and empathize when they feel slighted by an incident. Men don’t want to feel emasculated either, so women should also take heed and pay attention to how they approach men after such an incident. In defense of women everywhere, though, many men tune out the instant a woman says, “What you did/said really hurt me”, and may even turn into ugly, mean bulls who trample over the woman’s emotions. Suddenly, only the man’s perspective matters, and he is never culpable, while the woman is made to feel like a whiny bitch, even if she is calm, gentle, and kind in her approach. It’s like a switch flips in a man’s brain, and a furious instinct to lash out asserts itself. When this happens, no resolution can be found.


Before you men begin to think that this is about the man or the woman winning an argument, I will tell you that your perspective is really skewed. It isn’t about winning, and it isn’t about you versus the woman. That kind of viewpoint is confrontational, counterproductive, and puts you in a position in which the blinders are still on, and you can’t see anything but your own opinion. Instead of pounding on your chest and tuning out a woman who is in pain, perhaps you could listen to what she is saying and work with her. I can almost guarantee that an agreeable and open approach will yield much better results than resisting everything the woman says to you!

Emotional Eating

Originally published on RxGirl.com on Monday, 12 November 2012. The original post was published with white text on white background, so the only way to read it on the site is to highlight the text. To make things easier for everyone, I have copied and pasted the article here for you to read.


emotional-eating ice creamRather than discuss well-known emotional eating disorders such as bulimia, I will concentrate on binge eating which many women engage in from time to time. It is important to recognize this behavior if it becomes a regular pattern, because frequent emotional eating warrants a diagnosis of binge eating disorder and requires treatment and intervention.

Binge eating is characterized by eating compulsively to cope with negative emotions and stressful situations. A binge eater is rarely hungry when she begins to eat and will continue to eat well after she is full. Such episodes can last for up to two hours or can occur off and on throughout the day. The binger feels guilty both during and after the episode, but will not attempt to counteract it by fasting, taking laxatives, vomiting, fasting or over-exercising. A strong lack of self-control as well as feelings of shame will accompany this behavior pattern. There is a strong association between binge eating and depression. Binge eating is also driven by social components such as social pressure to be thin, emotional and sexual abuse, parental criticism of a child’s weight, and the use of food as reward or punishment.

Food cravings are usually the strongest when you are in emotional crisis. You may reach for food for comfort or to serve as a distraction. Consider the following highly stressful events and think about whether you reached for comfort foods during such times:

· Financial problems
· Health problems
· Work issues
· Relationship issues
· Fatigue
· Family issues

Though some people will lose their appetites when stressed and will refrain from eating, many others will engage in impulsive eating in an effort to deal with negative emotions. This may be relatively harmless if such emotional eating occurs on a very rare occasion, but becomes a serious problem when it is used as the only coping mechanism for stressful situations or negative emotions. Just bear in mind that if you have a rare moment of weakness, it is important to recognize it as just that and to prevent yourself from spiraling into excessive feelings of guilt over the incident. If you engage in an episode of emotional eating, learn to forgive yourself and have a fresh start the following day.

Why We Engage in Emotional Eating

What occurs almost invariably when we eat emotionally is that we turn to cookies, cakes, candy, fried foods and breads rather than to healthy foods. There is a biochemical basis for such behavior. Carbohydrates which are high in sugar or fat release dopamine in our brains which in turn stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, creating a sense of euphoria. These foods are usually associated with pleasurable memories, such as cake which you may have looked forward to on your birthday, or macaroni and cheese as a treat after school when you were a child.

Food can also serve as a happy distraction from conflict or stressful events by stimulating the aforementioned pleasure centers. What will frequently occur is that an excessive amount of these foods will be consumed. However, if you remain aware of such automatic connections between food and mood and realize when you are eating for reasons other than hunger, you can break this cycle and get back on track with healthy eating habits which are associated with true hunger.

How To Combat Emotional Eating

· Keep a food diary. Get in the habit of writing down everything you eat and drink, including the quantity, the times at which you eat, your emotional state while eating the meal, and your level of hunger. By doing this you may see patterns which will reveal your emotional relationship with food.

· Remove tempting foods. Avoid stocking comfort foods in your home if you find that they are difficult to resist. And by all means avoid making trips to the grocery store if your emotions are spiraling out of control!

· Practice stress management. Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques are effective methods of managing your stress.

· Determine whether you are truly hungry. Many times people may believe they are hungry when in reality they are actually emotionally distraught and desperately searching for a way to defuse such emotions.

· Make sure you consume adequate calories. Individuals who are trying to lose weight will often restrict their calorie intake too much, and will turn to the same foods in an effort to remain on track without rewarding themselves with an occasional treat. Adding variety to your meal plan will also help to keep you on track.
Emotional_Eating cake
· Distract yourself. If you get an urge to snack when you aren’t truly hungry, distract yourself by watching a movie, calling a friend, reading, listening to music, or taking a walk.

· Consume healthy snacks. If an urge to snack between meals strikes, choose a low-calorie snack such as vegetables with seasoned nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, low fat cottage cheese or rice cakes.

· Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is an important component in decreasing cravings for comfort foods.

· Eat at regular intervals. Consume smaller meals every three to four hours to keep you from feeling hungry or deprived.

· Focus on the experience of eating. Learn to eat in a mindful manner, in which you pay attention to your meal and only your meal. Become aware of the sensations associated with eating.

· Reward yourself. It is both physically and emotionally unhealthy to practice excessive calorie restriction for prolonged periods. Allow yourself to have a favorite food or meal once each week.

· Connect with your emotions. When a food craving hits during an emotional time, write down the emotions you are experiencing, such as sadness, loneliness or anger.

· Seek professional help if emotional eating is frequent. There are countless support groups which you can join which will help you to develop insight as well as the skills to avoid engaging in such behavior.

Mercury Retrograde, Solar Flares, Full Moon? Yikes!

mercurygodThe past week has been extremely difficult, fraught with high emotion, malfunctioning electronic devices, and illness. I returned home on Sunday June 8th after driving 400 miles from Sacramento with rock bottom placings at the Nor Cal, only to meet with emotional anguish from a couple of sources. The emotional roller coaster continued throuughout the entire week, and midway through the week, I ended up contracting the flu, getting so beaten down by illness that I was literally incapacitated for three days from it. It’s a big deal when I refrain from training, so when I tell you that I had to forgo training two days in a row, that is a clear sign of how sick I was. I literally could not budge from bed due to severe body aches, sore throat, cough, headache, dizziness, chills, and gut issues. I also had to take a day off from work which is also unheard of in my busy world.

I am not alone in what I experienced this past week. Emotions ran high with many people, probably largely due to the retrograde position of Mercury and the Full Moon on Thursday. Many individuals were also struck with the flu, which is unusual for this time of year. The strain which has been striking people is incredibly strong and will literally slam you so hard that you will feel like you got hit by a Mack truck. You will be so sore that even moving a limb while in bed is agonizing. It’s truly awful.

full moonAnother thing which I have been dealing with is a Smartphone which has given me ongoing grief for the past few weeks. My phone restarts spontaneously, switches to airplane mode, and for whatever bizarre reason is chewing up memory to the point where my next bill will be close to twice what it usually is. Thing is, I am not going to pay for additional charges when my phone wasn’t even functioning for the majority of the last two weeks! I am sure this has everything to do with Mercury retrograde and the nasty solar flares which interfere with electronics. There is nothing like the frustration of a phone which does not function and constant emails notifying me that I am being charged another $15 for 1 gigabyte of storage. I was charged $15 in the span of TWO days, during which time I barely even used my phone and had it turned OFF to conserve battery power because the phone was acting so strangely. How’s that for the wonders of technology?

Thank goodness a new week and fresh slate have arrived!