How do you typically make important decisions?
Answer: Not in your brain, at least not at first.
You first make decisions in your gut. Then you analyze your
decision in your mind, in order to rationalize it, work out the
details, and so forth.
I’m sure you are aware of the sensations you feel in the area
around your solar plexus — sensations that radiate up into your
heart and down into your stomach. We often “feel” things in this
area — whether related to physical pain, or mental anguish, or
something new and unexpected — before we actually process them
in our brain.
We actually describe this with phrases like, “It felt like a kick
to the gut”, or “I felt it in the pit of my stomach”, or “I had a
Do you know why?
It’s because there is an entire nervous system in your gut.
There are nearly 100 million nerve cells in your gut – about the
same number as in the spinal cord.
Half of your body’s nerves are located in the gut. Your capacity
for feeling and for emotional expression depends primarily on the
gut, and to a lesser extent on your brain.
The gut is more responsible than you may have ever guessed for your
mental wellbeing, AND how you feel physically.
This is important from a health point of view for a variety of
reasons. I’ll discuss a few specific ones in a future tip.
For today, let me say that the importance of the gut and of our
feelings about things is one of the reasons that I don’t just
write tips on “do this”, “don’t do that”, or “try this”.
I’ve learned from coaching, training and managing people that it’s
often the way they feel about themselves, and what they are doing
or trying to do, that has the most impact on their ultimate success.
When you set a goal of improving your health, or losing weight,
or learning a new language, or relating better to your kids….much
of your ultimate success will be predicated on how you FEEL about
the goal, as well as the activity required to achieve the goal.
If your gut tells you that the goal is challenging, but achievable,
and if you FEEL enthusiasm for the goal, and for (at least most of)
the actions you will be taking to reach it — well, you’re a step
ahead of most people.
The confidence and enthusiasm you need can come from all sorts of
Here’s an example that is close to my heart:
I’m fortunate to be in a loving and committed partnership and
romance with the love of my life. BUt, when my son was a baby, I
was a single mom, doing it all by myself.
I had tremendous support from family and friends. But sometimes,
being a new mom can be quite daunting, especially if you’re the
only one there 24/7/365.
I recall my first mother’s day as a new mom. My son was not feeling
well and had awakened a couple of times the night before.I woke up
exhausted, and feeling like perhaps I had bitten off more than
I could chew in deciding to become a mother.
Well, I decided to go out on the front porch to get some fresh air,
do some deep breathing and try to wake up. As I stepped out the
front door, I noticed a gift bag on the porch.
Inside was a gift and a card. My next door neighbors had placed it
there so I would have it first thing. They wrote the card as if
it was from my son.
As I read the card, and thought about how kind and gracious they
were to do this thing, I felt a jolf of confidence surging through
me. All the exhaustion and self-questioning were washed away. In
their place was a new feeling I can only describe as courage: the
courage to be the best possible mom I could be and to provide well
for my son.
I hope these messages I send you sometimes provide you with a
“jolt” (either major or minor) that gives you the courage to take
the first step, or the next step, or the step after that, towards
improved health and fitness. Nothing gives me greater pleasure
than hearing from someone who has put to use and benefited from
something I have shared with or taught them.
You Can Do It!
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2011