Why A Good Challenge Keeps Us Young (And Interesting)

It’s such old news now it seems we’ve all become de-sensitized to it:

“Your brain is like any other muscle. Use it or lose it.”

But 4 years ago, when my younger sister was hit by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury I learned just how amazing, and PLASTIC, our brains really are…she re-learned how to eat, to walk, to talk, to go up and down stairs, to drive…to work.

And as I watch her now, as she fights cancer with with amazing physical and spiritual will, I am once again reminded of the power of our brains.

Think of two people you know.  Let’s say they’re in their 40’s or 50’s.   One is vibrant, a joy to be around, fascinating, introspective, maybe even a bit eccentric. (We’re not talking extrovert or introvert here.)  The other seems flat, bored, tired, old of mind, and it feels like you’re interviewing them when you have a conversation. Things for them are the same, now as before, and seem to them that they will always be.

The difference, neuroscientists argue, is what each has challenged their brains to do over time.

Our brains NEED extra shooga from us. They NEED stimulation to keep US young. They are like Play-Doh balls waiting to be modified into anything we want. And when we do that, the result is a more vibrant YOU. Happier, enthusiastic, fascinating, and someone who others want to be around. Sure, there’s a ton of science behind all of this, but I’m not here to write a scientific tome. I’m here because the bigger message is, we have CONTROL over our brains with what we THINK, and what we IMAGINE. Be it positive (I will try to tacklel a 5K race!) or negative (Why do it? It takes too much time and I’m already busy).  There are countless stories in literature about what happens to athletes and artists who just IMAGINE doing something, and then DOING it. It’s what visualization is built upon!

Knowing we have that control over our brains, and ultimately, our actions leads to us experiencing healthier, happier, and more vibrant lives. And that is INFECTIOUS …. it reaches other people in positive ways, and transforms them.  And that is what GOTRIbal aims to support in every woman – to show her how SHE can harness her own power for her good and the good of those around her.

Taking up a new sport like running, cycling, triathlon – whatever – challenges you in so many big ways… at first.  As you continue in it, one of two things happen:  you get bored or you get better (by going longer, faster, getting stronger, … etc).  Boredom is our brains telling us, “We’ve stopped exercising. It’s all routine now. Let’s shake it up!!”  we have a choice. Modify our training, take on a new goal (faster mile? faster 5K? hillier race course?), a new distance… each will challenge our brain in new ways and encourage us to focus.  Doing so, modifies our plastic brains once again, and new habits are formed, new learning occurs, and the cycle continues. In all of this, we become more interesting people, more engaged with life, our family, our friends. We enjoy being alive and its palpable to those around us.

Running, cycling, swimming or triathlon/duathlon races may not be the most spectator-friendly, but people at the finish line (and the athletes that train and race in these sports) are electrified by the energy and are amazed by the camaraderie and spirit shared amongst the athletes. This feeling continues well beyond the race.

Because it’s not about the race.

And it’s not about the training program.

It’s about life.

And that is GOTRIbal.

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