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Invaluable tips and expert perspectives from an impressive leader!
on January 12, 2013
UPDATE: one and a half years later, this is still one of the books I am most glad to have read
While Daniel G Amen's plan for supercharging the female brain for better health, energy, mood, focus, and sex in his new book, Unleash the Power of the Female Brain is basically the same as most self-help books, he provides invaluable tips and expert perspectives on how to actually achieve those goals more successfully making Unleash the Power of the Female Brain an important read not so much for WHAT to do but HOW to do it and sustain it and to a higher standard.
If you have read a couple of nutrition books and have common sense, you already know the plan which requires:
* keeping your brain safe by avoiding toxic foods, chemicals and drugs, and staying away from dangerous activities that could traumatize your brain
* stabilizing your weight at a healthy level
* getting exercise that keeps your blood flowing - especially to your brain
* getting sufficient sleep every night, and resolving issues like sleep apnea
* avoiding bad fats and eating good, healthy fats like olive oil, and omega-3s (through supplements or eating toxin-free fish)
* keeping your brain flexible and active by exercising it and learning new skills.
* Resolving issues like ADHD, depression, anxiety, and stress
* surrounding yourself with a network of supportive people who will encourage your efforts and help you stay on your healthy program
Amen covers these over and over again in his book Unleash the Power of the Female Brain by organizing the material in the following manner:
Introduction: The Female Brain Unleashed
1. FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR FEMALE BRAIN: Care About Your Brain More than Any Other Body Part
Hour 1 Exercise - Boost brain envy - Hang anchor images of why you want to have a healthier brain
2. HARNESS THE UNIQUE STRENGTHS OF THE FEMALE BRAIN: Use Your Intuition, Collaboration, Empathy, Self-Control, and a Little Worry to Give Yourself a Great Advantage
Hour 2 Exercise - Recruit Your Team and Make Your Worries Work for You - this is what I would call a form of the Serenity Prayer which is a consistent go-to in my life
3. ADOPT THE AMEN CLINICS' METHOD FOR OPTIMIZING THE FEMALE BRAIN:: Know Your Brain, Important Numbers, and the Four Circles for Ultimate Success
Hour 3 Exercise - Get Assessed: CBC and on Amen's website (SPECT optional)
4. BALANCE YOUR HORMONES TO BOOST THE FEMALE BRAIN
Part One: Balance Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone
Part Two: Balance Thyroid, Cortisol, DHEA, and Insulin
Hour 4 Exercise - Take the Hormone Questionnaires and Inventory Your Healthy and Unhealthy Hormone Habits
5. FEED THE FEMALE BRAIN: Flatten Your Tummy and Boost Brain Reserves by Healing Your Gut and Eating Brain-Healthy Superfoods - Treat Food as a Drug because it is one
Hour 5 Exercise - Provide Therapy for your Kitchen (Food/Diet)
6. SOOTHE THE FEMALE BRAIN: Put an End to Anxiety, Worry, Depression, and Perfectionism
Hour 6 Exercise - Get ANT Therapy and Answer the Work's Four Questions
7. GET CONTROL OF THE FEMALE BRAIN: Conquer Cravings, Weight Issues, and Addictions
Hour 7 Exercise - Embrace Your Failures (Turn bad days into good data)
8. UNDERSTAND ADD AND THE FEMALE BRAIN: Learn to Treat the Hyperactive "Boys'" Condition That Ruins Female Lives
Hour 8 Exercise - Know Your Focus and Energy Robbers and Boosters
9. BE BEAUTIFUL ON THE INSIDE AND OUT: Learn Strategies to Help Your Brain and Body Look Amazing - Stop the Negative Chatter and Make a Plan to Look and Feel Amazing
Hour 9 Exercise - Get a Massage and Enjoy a Sauna
10. UNDERSTAND SEX AND THE FEMALE BRAIN: Optimize Your Brain for Greater Pleasure, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Love
Hour 10 Exercise - Be the Director of Your Pleasure
11. GET YOUR BRAIN READY FOR BABIES AND CARING FOR THEIR BRAINS ONCE THEY'RE HERE: Prepare for Pregnancy - and Unleash the Power of Your Daughters' Brains
Hour 11 Exercise - Indulge in Special Time
12. CHANGE YOUR FEMALE BRAIN, CHANGE THE WORLD: Realize That It's Not About You - It's About Generations of You
Hour 12 Exercise - Create Your Own Genius Network
APPENDIX A; NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP YOU UNLEASH THE POWER OF YOUR FEMALE BRAIN
I must confess that I have read hundreds of books in this genre and Unleash the Power of the Female Brain stands out in the forefront as Daniel Amen quickly demonstrates that he not only talks the talk but walks the walk and successfully so and teaches others as how to do so as well. This is what I find so valuable about Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. I became familiar with Amen probably a couple of decades ago and as I follow his career I must convey how impressed I am with his genuine ability to lead others helping to create better health in a sincere compassionate way. I have a lifetime of practicing the optimization of my own health and others and still learned many valuable tips and perspectives from Amen in Unleash the Power of the Female Brain that are worth many times the price of this book.
When I first became aware of Amen's practice, he prescribed the more powerful psychiatric medications consistent with what every other psychiatrist was prescribing based upon pharmaceutical rep recommendations and medical studies; as he began using SPECT brain imaging and saw the effects of these pharmaceuticals on the brain itself, he revised his protocols. I don't know if you are aware of this, but it used to be that the pharmaceutical medical studies were performed by the government, universities, and other independent objective professionals but now they are performed by the seller of the drug. The tobacco industry even came out with a medical study saying we should all smoke cigarettes because it would postpone alzheimers for several years. To have the input of what a medical expert not employed by the pharmaceutical company sees in SPECT brain scan imaging with different protocols is invaluable in my opinion and why I hold Amen in such special regard. It is rare to find someone who leads innovatively, thinks for themselves, and appears to be trying to honestly do what is in the best interest of his patients; I think his input on the effects on human brain as shown in SPECT scans is invaluable.
Some criticize Amen that he is too commercialized but if you listen to him about how to help the most that one can, he explains that many people need all the support, plans, information, and such that he offers and I would have to agree. I like that I can pick and choose what I am interested in (tailored more to my interests such as Unleashing the Power of the Female Brain) and am not required to subscribe to costly websites, brain imaging or join a church that has Daniel groups or whatever they are called but I like that he offers that support to those who want it. Amen is not just another author who read alot of books and is writing a regurgitation of that information like so many other newly-published books; he has unique input from his years of treating patients and his family and he writes about that unlike other authors who may have never had success treating a patient but are simply regurgitating the same books you and I have read like they have something new to say but are simply summarizing the books they have read maybe combined with the marketing information they have received from the pharmaceutical and supplement industries which are soon become one in the same as pharmaceutical companies are purchasing the supplement companies.
One of my favorite things I learned from Amen in reading Unleash the Power of the Female Brain is: "I think of calories like money, and I hate wasting money. If you have a high metabolism, like having a lot of money, you don't have to worry much about calories. If you have a low metabolism, which happens to a lot of us as we grow older, you have to be very wise in how you spend your calories.... When you overeat, you bankrupt your brain and your body." Amen also wrote an article available on his website "100 ways to Leave Your Blubber." While I am a nutritarian and look at getting the most nutrition for each calorie, I have not done so with the diligence I use when not wasting my money; I am looking forward to viewing calorie splurges in a more healthy light following Amen's perspective/tip.
I also really like how Amen discusses anxiety in a non black/white terms and applies them to gender. "Men tend to have less anxiety and thus they tend to get themselves into more trouble. In my lectures I often talk abut the need for "enough" anxiety. For example, if someone gets the thought, "I think I'll go rob the grocery store," the very next thought should be "That's a very bad idea; you'll spend the next twenty years in jail." Some anxiety keeps you out of trouble. Too much, of course, can make you sick."
I also would love to see Amen's ANT therapy taught in all of our schools to all of our children as well as in all our workplaces. "One of the techniques that is the mainstay of helping our patients at the Amen Clinics is what I call ANT therapy, or learning how to kill the Automatic Negative Thoughts that you feel you have no control over. Learning how to not believe every stupid thought you have is a critical skill to ending the unnecessary suffering experienced by so many women. ANTs pop up in your brain automatically, seemingly out of nowhere, and when left unchallenged, they bite, nibble, torture, and infest your mind. When the ANTs ar left unchecked, they steal your happiness and literally make you feel old, fat, depressed, and feeble-minded."
I enjoyed Amen's perspective on weighting and viewing emotions appropriately. "Thinking with Your Feelings - A key female strength is knowing what you're feeling. But the dark side of that strength is thinking with your feelings. For example, "I feel like you don't love me." Or "I feel like I'm being treated unfairly." Maybe you do feel that way, but is it true? Sometimes feelings lie, especially when you are tired, hungry, worried about something else, under a lot of stress, deprived of the brain chemicals you need or struggling with a hormonal issue. Don't let your negative feelings rule your thoughts. Write them down and look for the evidence behind them."
I also thoroughly enjoyed Amen's view on how "your female intuition enables you to see things that others miss and to know a great deal without being able to explain exactly how. Used correctly, your intuition can be an enormous strength. But it also opens you up to a great deal of worry and anxiety. If you believe your intuition without checking it out, you might end up "knowing" a lot that isn't true. Yes, sometimes you are right, but sometimes you've just invented your own reality, which is perhaps colored by lack of sleep, low blood sugar, or brain chemistry that has run amok. You run the risk of living in a world colored entirely by your own negative thoughts and free-floating feelings, which creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety and disrupted relationships. And you become prey to the fortune-telling and mind-reading ANTs." I would also like to add that when my own intuition and/or feelings are off from the truth, I can use that as a gauge to how well I am taken care of myself that moment and try to come back to balance/harmony/truth/divine source.
The biggest light-bulb moment for me in Unleash the Power of the Female Brain was probably in Amen's simple sentence "ADD is an American invention, made up by a society seeking simple solutions to complex problems." There is often no simple solution or magic pill to get us the Brains/Health/Life/Goal we want, we need to practice, practice, practice leading a healthy lifestyle and Amen successfully teaches how he's been doing it and leading others to do it and more successfully. I whole-heartedly recommend Unleash the Power of the Female Brain by Daniel G. Amen, MD.
Dr Amen, if you are listening, I would like to request you publish a book on SOOTHING the ALLERGIC and/or AUTO-IMMUNE BRAIN answering questions on how to do so including:
* what effect does ingesting allergens that are healthy for most people (such as strawberries, fish, peanuts...) on brain SPECT scan in healthy vs allergic brains?
* what effect does gluten have on brain SPECT scan in healthy vs allergic brains?
* what effect does dairy have on brain SPECT scan in healthy vs allergic brains?
* what effect does excitotoxins such as Nutrasweet have on brain SPECT scan in healthy vs allergic brains?
* do people with gluten-intolerance and/or auto-immune disorders such as Celiacs and Hashimoto's have different brain SPECT scans than others and how to optimize?
* how to best address brains responding to otherwise healthy items as allergens?
* how to best address brains that are currently on auto-immune disfunction?
I think there is a great need for this book and that it would be a best seller. I also think there is a high need for your input into autism. I would also find it interesting to read what effects different fats have on our fat-based brains in your opinion based upon your many years of reading SPECT brain images and knowing what makes brains healthier. Thank you for your work and making the world a better place to live.
+++ UPDATE July 2014
I still highly recommend this book. Everything I learned from it, I am still using with great results.