The Placebo Effect: Mind Over Health

The brain is an amazing organ. Not only does it control your thoughts and emotions, but it also maintains your body. It’s an organic computer capable of great feats. One of my favorite aspects of the brain is how the placebo effect works. This is when your mind actually convinces your body to make changes based on a belief. For instance, people can claim to “feel great” after taking sugar pills they thought were medication. Could this also contribute to health and fitness?

The Power of the Mind

The mind is a powerful tool. Humans have such little understanding regarding what this organ can actually do. Since we only use a small portion of our capacity, it makes me wonder what we can become if we literally put our minds to it. I’m not just talking about changing your attitude or putting in the effort to be artistic.

Healing Yourself with a Thought

Mental HealthThere have been many instances in which a placebo has demonstrated positive results for healing pain and other ailments. It’s akin to how kissing a child’s “boo boo” makes him or her feel better. That may be because the child believes in the healing power of love and affection. I know I do.

According to a study published in 2008, this placebo affect can be augmented by a more nurturing and caring health practitioner. What it boils down to is interpersonal comfort with the belief that certain practices work can influence a patient.

Does this mean you can cure cancer by willing it away? For some, it may be a strong possibility. According to Joe Marchant of the Daily Beast, there are many experiences where homeopathic remedies and willpower may have played a role in healing.

Although there is little science to support how the power of positive thinking can eliminate the world’s deadliest diseases, many still believe. And that right there is the power of the mind. The placebo effect is in full swing as bones knit faster or cancers deteriorate over time.




Believing in a Diet Plan?

Because of the abundance of “mind power” articles on the Internet, it makes me wonder just how far this can all go. Perhaps one of the reasons why certain people can excel at particular diets is because of sheer will.

SaladsThe one thing to bare in mind is that believing a diet will work doesn’t materialize vitamins and minerals into your body. You will still need these basic components if you want to live. For instance, the human body cannot store B-complex vitamins. This means you have to consume them another way. Believing you don’t need vitamins and minerals will only lead to degradation of the body.

However, will believing in a diet plan alter your subconscious to the point where you refrain from cheating on the plan? Perhaps putting faith in the placebo effect convinces you on some mental level to follow directions more fully. Maybe your mind tells the body how to use what you eat on a more efficient level. There is just no real, clear-cut answer that I can find other than faith that it works.

Exercise and Physical Development Effects

There are many ways that your mind can literally trick your body into a better fitness experience. Mark McManus of Muscle Hack speaks of how convincing yourself the weights you lift are light can empower you to lift more. In reality, I’ve seen this work first hand.

You might not be able to talk yourself into lifting a semi on your own. However, you may be surprised by how much you can lift when you convince yourself it’s lighter than it is. It’s along the same lines of the power of positive thinking. When you start doubting yourself, that’s when things get difficult. This is true in almost any aspect of life.

Many may wonder if they can simply will muscles to become bigger. Unfortunately, I cannot find any viable and scientific information about simply “wanting” your muscles to develop. However, the mind can be used to train yourself to get the most out of lifting and exercise.

Balancing Muscle MassIt is possible to develop muscle mass by imagining your lifting heavy weights. No, it’s not your imagination manifesting real weight. Essentially, pretending your lifting heavy weights while keeping your muscles flexed can be almost as good as the real thing. You see, it’s not the weight that develops muscle mass. It’s the resistance and the energy used to flex the muscles that actually builds them.

Well, that and a proper diet.

Being in the Right Mood

How you feel about diet and exercise will impact whether it’s successful or not. If you have negative thoughts, you’ll more than likely have a bad experience. This is why it’s important to keep yourself in the right frame of mind.

Don’t view exercise and fitness as a chore. It doesn’t have to be a mundane activity. Find ways to focus your mind on other aspects of health. For me, it’s competition. I am working to be in the top 100 according to points on Exercise.com. My brother is also motivation for me because I can’t let the little man lose more weight than I.

One of the best ways to go about getting in the right mood is by committing to fitness. It can be a life altering experience all around, and there will be many changes in the upcoming years. However, you’ll feel as good as you look in the long run.

Ab WorkoutsI am currently doing a case study on myself regarding how much weight I can lose within four months. My goal is 80 pounds. My focus is how good I’ll look come Christmas time. Sure, it’ll take a lot of work considering where I am currently at. But it’s the positive aspect of turning myself into a Greek god that gives me motivation.

Well, maybe a minor Greek deity at least.

Convincing Yourself with a Placebo Effect

In theory, you could visualize that club sandwich to give you a boost to mental powers. But I doubt you’ll see many people out there showing signs of becoming Albert Einstein from eating a BLT. Still, I wonder just how far humans can take the placebo effect in terms of physical fitness.

Sources:
http://www.bmj.com/content/336/7651/999?goto=reply

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/06/how-and-where-your-mind-can-heal-you-for-real.html

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Michael Brockbank

Michael is a work at home father who has completed a wide assortment of writing regarding various topics. Currently, he is working to achieve a weight loss goal and improve health in order to cross the state of Colorado on bicycle.

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