In Fitness, Your Brain Is A Terrible Boss

By Alexis Wolfer

Yesterday I was in Gina’s SoulCycle class when she said something that really stuck with me.

“Your brain is a great employee – but a terrible boss,” she yelled out, encouraging us to let go of our doubts, fears, and insecurities and let our bodies just ride the path to achieving our fitness goals.


But wait.

My brain is my best asset (well, I like to think it is anyway!).

So what does it mean when I admit it’s not always right? When I accept that it’s inherently imperfect? When I acknowledge that it will always be my mind that gives up before my body does? (Because it is ALWAYS your mind that quits well before your body ever gives out.)

Does that mean your brain is inadequate? That it’s flawed? That it’s wrong?

No. It doesn’t mean any of those things. But it does mean that your brain has an agenda and that, like in any other area of your life, when you’re required to rely on something or someone: you need to know his/her/its agenda and weigh his/her/its opinion accordingly.

You see, your brain is in the business of keeping you safe and happy. Its agenda will always be for safety over risk, for happiness over discomfort. It’s how you’ve – well, all of humankind has – survived for this long: because our brains calculate risks and tell us what to do to ensure our survival and to maximize our happiness.

And that’s a great thing! Your brain is f’ing rad!

But when you want to grow, when you want to expand, when you want to push yourself harder in life (or on a bike en route to achieving your fitness goals!) so you become better, stronger, it’s not your brain that should be boss.

Not because it’s wrong or flawed or inadequate, but because when growth, expansion, and strength are the goals, your body knows better. Your heart knows better. Your soul knows better.

I’m often asked to provide a piece of advice for young entrepreneurs and I (almost!) always say the same thing: make sure you have a cheerleader (someone who is always there with words of encouragement to pick you up and push your forward) and a realist (someone who points out the risks and flaws and keeps you grounded) and, most importantly, know when to listen to each!

I needed to take my own advice because here’s the deal: whether in entrepreneurship or fitness goals or, well, anywhere else, there will always be conflicting pieces of advice, each of which have your best interest in mind. It’s not that one is wrong and the other right or that one wants what’s best for you and the other doesn’t. They just have different approaches. And, sometimes, well, your brain is wrong.

So, when it comes to fitness, don’t let your brain be boss!

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