By Daniel G. Amen


After reading “The Longevity Project,” (published by Hudson Street Press, March 2011) I’m convinced now more than ever that to lose your belly and live longer, you have to boost your brain. The study, started in 1910, followed more than 1,500 10-year-olds over 90 years to draw conclusions about human development, longevity–which correlates to healthy living.

The study revealed the No. 1 way to better health is your level of conscientiousness. Here’s how defines conscientiousness:

Conscientiousness is the trait of being painstaking and careful, or the quality of acting according to the dictates of one’s conscience. It includes such elements as self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement.

To be conscientious, your brain must make quality decisions. When I see a morbidly obese person, I think to myself, “there were a lot of bad decisions to get them to that point.” It’s not just one or two bad decisions, but a consistent lack of conscientiousness that leads people to bad health.

The cool part is conscientiousness can be improved over time! You can ramp up your conscientiousness. It’s not based on your genes, but your behavior and how well you take care of your brain.

So how do you become more conscientious? Boost your brain.

  • Avoid foods, activities that damage your brain.
  • Add foods, activities that enhance your brain.

Here’s another interesting finding: 40% of morbidly obese people have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) which is reflection of their inability to control their impulses, clearly a lack of self control. This is the exact opposite of conscientiousness.

So your decision making is a direct reflection of the health of your brain.


Then what? That’s it! Learning to ask yourself, “then what” questions is how to be more conscientious. For example:

  • If I do this, then what will happen?
  • If I eat this cheesecake, what will happen to my body, health and goals?
  • If I listen to the little lies about why I’m avoiding healthy habit, then what will happen to the length and enjoyment of my life?
  • If I say this…then what will happen?

To lose your belly, live longer and enjoy the journey, become more future oriented and not just live for the moment.

There’s a song, “Then What” by Clay Walker, that emphasizes this point. One line says, “It’s your life but remember this, there’s bound to be some consequences…” Check out the song, and then ask yourself “then what?”