How to naturally increase your dopamine levels.

Our hormones have a big impact on our emotional state, causing both good and bad mood patterns.

Regulating your hormones significantly improves and balances your emotional health.

There are a lot of things that you are doing throughout the day that have an affect on your hormones. Without you even realising.

Dopamine is a hormone that has a massive effect on us. It’s the chemical messenger in your brain that creates feelings of pleasure and reward. Which motivates you to repeat a specific behaviour.

And modern day temptations are very effective at giving us cheap dopamine hits. They are designed to elicit this ‘feel good’ sensation. It’s at the crux of their design and marketing.

Junk food, Porn, Social media, Booze, Nicotine. All elicit these cheap dopamine hits. And these temporary feel goods are very effective.

They target your weakness and keep you coming back for more.

Alcohol for confidence.

Nicotine anxiety.

Social media for boredom.

Junk food for lethargy.

Porn for arousal.

These acute ‘feel goods’ are so common yet so dangerous. Because use of these cheap dopamine hits results in;

Excessive binge eating,

Poor relationships,

Chronic stress,

High blood pressure,

and poor health.

These cheap dopamine hits are killing you!

And without without discipline, it can be very hard to turn down these temptations because they are so effective and immediate. They offer instant gratification to a problem.

And when you start to depend on them, it’s harder to rid yourself of them.

So rather than going cold turkey – which is incredibly hard. Replace them with natural things that you natural dopamine hits.

Swapping them, so your brain doesn’t really notice.

Imagine yourself as Indiana Jones, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in the tomb swapping that Golden Idol for a bag of sand.

(but much easier and without the tomb kicking off and trying to kill you).

Here are some easy ways to do that!

Eat a high protein diet.

Proteins are made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. One amino acid, called tyrosine, plays a critical role in the production of dopamine!

Probiotics

The gut and brain are closely linked. Certain species of bacteria that live in your gut are also capable of producing dopamine.

Exercise

Exercise can boost dopamine levels in the brain. Improvements in mood can be seen after as little as 10 minutes of activity but tend to be highest after at least 20 minutes.

Quality sleep

After poor sleep the availability of dopamine receptors in their brains is dramatically reduced by the next morning.

Getting regular, high quality sleep helps keep your dopamine levels balanced. And help you feel more alert and high functioning during the day

Music

Listening to music is an enjoyable way to stimulate dopamine release in your brain.

Listening to music increases activity in the reward and pleasure areas of the brain, rich with dopamine receptors.

Sunlight

Periods of low sunshine exposure can lead to reduced levels of mood-boosting neurotransmitters. Including dopamine. Sunlight exposure can increase them.

Start swapping the unnatural for the natural and I promise you’ll start to feel better.

How you can reach your goals

Most people don’t know how to reach their goals or realise their true potential.

They think if they do this, a bit of that, then some more of this that magically whatever they want will fall in their lap.

That’s not how it works!

You see, there’s only one thing that must change (if you want to achieve a predetermined goal that you’ve set for yourself).

Your habits!

Take fitness as an example:

The vast majority of guys who want to get in shape will go the gym.

They go for a while and assume that one day they’ll wake up looking like Arnold in his prime. Or Brad Pitt in Fight Club (whichever floats their boat).

They put no conscious thought into changing their habits.

They won’t adjust their eating habits. And they’ll remain ignorant about their stress levels.

And a short while of after not seeing their desired results they’ll quit.

What I work on with my clients is getting them to focus on their HABITS, not their goals.

Their habits are will get them them to their goal.

I cannot stress enough the importance of your habits and routine.

Do they match your goals?

If someone looked at what you do each day would they be able to accurately guess what you’re trying to achieve?

Andrew

The Fitness Gentleman

P.S. If you feel as though you are ready to move the mental roadblocks stopping you from strengthening your body and your mindset so you can reach your goals. I invite you to a Free Discovery Call here where we can have a chat about your goals and how you can go about achieving them.

Swerve the burnout!

Contrary to popular belief, going at it hammer and tongue is not how you improve your performance.

It’s actually in the recovery where you grow/ improve.

So if you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘you’re only as good as your recovery’ it’s one that holds water!

Let me explain.

You’ll have as baseline performance level. And when you introduce physical or mental stressors this performance level drops.

Good recovery, which might include:

getting enough energy (calories) for physiological needs;

getting enough macronutrients and micronutrients;

proper hydration and electrolyte balance; nutrient timing for clients who need it (e.g., elite athletes);

supporting sleep

managing stress

These are the things that will see you recover to a performance level that surpasses where you were before the stressor.

Without good recovery you’ll experience chronic stress. And each time you subject yourself to stressors your performance level goes down.

Eventually you’ll hit a point where you’ll burn out.

You want to ensure that doesn’t happen! And that you are taking the right steps for your performance to grow and grow.

Pushing yourself and recovering better each time. So you are only experience acute stress (necessary for improvement).

Now, what if i told you that you don’t need more time to put this in place.

What if I told you that you could actually see this happen by doing less?!

You don’t need more exercise, to diet harder, to have perfect sleep or stress management routines.

You only need to improve what you are currently doing with those things!

Because the recipes you’re currently using aren’t getting you the results your after.

Which is why performance has begun to plateau. Energy levels have dropped and stress is running high.

But with the right plan and accountability your lifestyle routine can be optimisd. And take your output to a level you never thought possible.

Improved habits that will see you become:

fitter

focused

energised

stronger

confident

At the top of your game!

Click here for details

The invisible hand that guides you.

When it comes to a healthy way of living the Mediterranean’s always seem to get a mention.

They are renowned for their longevity and wellbeing. Many attribute their diet to the reason behind this.

Although over the years I’ve come up with a hypothesis. The premise is that it’s more to do with their geography and culture.

Yes the Mediterranean diet is pretty good, (if you delve into it they get a balance of fats in their diet; monounsaturated, saturated & polyunsaturated and it is high in nutritional value.

But if you look deeper into their lifestyle they also have geography and culture working for them.

The abundance of sunlight they receive provides them with sufficient vitamin D. Something that us Northerners (hemisphere that is) lack.

And, the most salient point, the emphasis they put on sleep.

Biphasic sleep is sown into their culture. Think about it. They down tools every afternoon for a nap.

Siesta.

Not to mention they have such stringent laws on light pollution.

They protect their sleep and it pays off in spades. Especially when it comes to their national health bill.

The same can’t be said for us in the UK. Incurring a £197.4 billion health bill in 2019. And that cost has increased every year since.

Our geography is not as favourable, and our culture not as health conscious or cognisant. And that my friend is a problem because;

when everyone is sick, we no longer consider it a disease!

– Ravikant.

We wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honour when it’s work related.

Which is ironic seeing as though sleep loss over an extended period of time can cause decreased cognitive performance.

Essentially with poor sleep you’re not in control of your emotions and your emotions can control your behaviour.

This leads to the inability to make sound judgments. Poorer choices and below par performance. Along with it health concerns.

Which is why to be at your best you have to optimise your lifestyle. Nutrition, Stress management, Exercise and Sleep.

All these things done well will see you operate at your best.

You’ll have emotional regulation which aids self control, which is a superpower. I would say better than invisibility or flying.

Ultimately you will be making better decisions.

And you are the sum total of all your decisions!

The bet.

How’s it all going with your health and fitness drive?

Whatever your reason behind it. Maybe it’s your self-confidence; you’re not over enamoured with what you see when you look in the mirror.

Maybe it’s stemmed from you getting dressed in the morning and thinking to yourself ‘hmm this top wasn’t this tight before Christmas.’ 

It could be that your partner is highlighting stuff by making subtle hints. Maybe that Peloton bike they brought you for Christmas had an ulterior motive behind it?

Whichever it may be, these all feel pretty shit.

And maybe your new year’s resolution efforts have waned?

If they have don’t beat yourself up. It’s not you, it’s the method/strategy you chosen.

What you’ve tried hasn’t been sustainable.

Mainstream weight loss or fitness programs are nothing more than a roll of the dice!

They’re not a sensible bet!

The odds of you achieving success with these methods are minuscule.

Without accountability, a proven strategy, and support, you’ve got little to no chance.

How about rather than taking a punt, a flutter, a spin you make an investment?!

An investment in a strategy that will be the last you will ever need for your health and fitness.

No more confusion about what to do for getting fitter healthier, performing better looking good, and feeling great.

I know that taking that first step is the hardest. So I’ll make it easy for you. Click here

Your recovery Rockstar

Did you know that getting adequate and good quality sleep has a significant impact on hormone balance and muscle protein synthesis.


Outside of muscle growth, sleep deprivation has also been directly linked to an increase in appetite and as a result an increase in body fat. Because when you are not getting enough quality sleep hormones called Ghrelin and Leptin are affected and can effect our hunger levels.


Poor sleep will also lead to detrimental effects on your immune system
Because sleep helps T cells, a key part of our immune system, get to other places. Having enough T cells around to keep an eye on things means that we’re better able to start an immune response as needed.


But that’s not all. Remember that sleep helps us learn and remember? Well, it works for immune cells too.


Sleep boosts the immune system’s ability to ‘remember’ particular antigens, such as viruses. And more effectively produce antibodies or specific defenses against a particular antigen.


The most beneficial phases of sleep are the 2-3 hours of deep sleep we should experience each night. Deep sleep is very restorative and is where our stress hormone cortisol is at its lowest. And other hormones that support muscle growth are at their most potent.


Phases of sleep and the circadian system affect our immune and inflammatory responses. During this period there are changes to levels of various hormones.


These hormonal changes help boost the adaptive immune response. By helping it learn and “remember” antigens. When we sleep, our immune system is transferring what it’s learned about specific antigens (such as viruses) into its ‘long-term memory’. Which helps it recognize and respond effectively to the same antigens in future.


Cortisol is a stress-response and steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of vital body processes. And, it plays a crucial role in our sleep.
Under normal circumstances, cortisol follows a strong circadian rhythm. It’s highest when we first wake up, and decreases throughout the day.


When we don’t get enough sleep, we see less variation in the circadian rhythm of cortisol. We don’t get the highest highs in the morning, nor does cortisol drop as much in the evening.


This means that we often end up with higher measurements of cortisol after poor sleep because it doesn’t decrease like it should. On top of that, not getting enough sleep is stressful, too!


So, does it matter if we get a bad night’s sleep, or if our cortisol is too high, or both?


Yes.


Some research has suggested that cortisol could be the factor that links poor sleep to the development of depression. These things often go together.


For instance, a hallmark symptom of depression is changes in sleep. Including more awakenings in the night, difficulty falling asleep, and less deep sleep. Unsurprisingly, people who have depression often also have higher concentrations of cortisol.


If we’re able to improve our sleep and reduce our cortisol levels (i.e., deal with our sleep and stress), it will likely also help us better take care of our emotional, psychological and social well-being.


You can get started on improving your sleep quality by:

  • increasing darkness in the bedroom
  • have a regular time for going to bed
  • remove electrical equipment from the bedroom
  • maintain a cool temperature in the bedroom
  • use an alarm that will wake you up in a light sleep phase

Dealing in absolutes

Dealing in absolutes isn’t a good idea. When we use terminology such as good or bad or ‘always’ and ‘never’ it creates a false dichotomy.


Which is an informal fallacy based on a premise. That erroneously limits what options are available. The source of the fallacy lies not in an invalid form of inference but in a false premise.


And limiting options is not a good thing. Especially when it comes to methods of improving your health.


You may have asked ‘is this good for me?’


And the answer will likely be – it comes down to the amount!


One doughnut will not make you unhealthy just the same as one salad will not make you healthy.


We as human beings always look to simplify things. But when it comes to sleep, stress, food and exercise it’s not applicable.


To simplify and state that all stress is bad would be ignorant. As a certain amount of stress is beneficial to us (the amount depends on the individual).


To say that sugar is bad and you should never have it would be extreme and irrelevant. As it offers benefits both physiologically and psychologically.


Claiming that only sleep under certain conditions is good, also erroneous.


When we strive for these extremes and perfections only to fall short it can quite often be damaging. That’s why I propose you don’t!


Instead of being inconsistently perfect with your diet, exercise, stress, and sleep. Aim for being consistently alright. That is when you’ll start to notice improvement.


To do this, rather than thinking in switches (‘on’ or ‘off’) think in dials (1-10). It adds flexibility and sustainability when gauging the health practices in your life.

Immediate gratification

I know the process of exercise doesn’t feel good, in fact, it’s quite the opposite at the time. Being hot, sweaty, uncomfortable it’s quite an ordeal.

The same goes for food choices, it’s effort to cook a meal that will be better for you than a takeaway.

And getting to bed at a reasonable time rather than staying up for some more down time is tough.

Putting time aside to journal or meditate is also a challenge. Because at the back of your mind you know you’ve got a lot on your plate and you could be tackling some of that.

Doing these things gives us a short lived sense of achievement. From knowing that we’ve done something good for our health, but it’s negligible.

Everything else in our lives we get immediate gratification from. A take away meal or fast food gives us a big wave of dopamine. A cigarette gives us a nicotine hit, an alcoholic beverage gives us a buzz. Ordering something online arrives next day (sometimes the same day, thanks Mr Bezos)

It’s hard because we live in a world that caters for immediate gratification. Yet, these acute immediate gratifications are short lived. And some even come with remorse!

They’re very easy to fall into the habit of doing. When you’re busy with work and kids you might not be prepared to eat that well. Also, eating the stuff that’s not so great for you feels good when you’re stressed (thanks alot dopamine).

It’s easy not to go to the gym because ‘you haven’t got time’ or ‘you’re not feeling up for it’

It’s easy to watch another episode and stay up late because your day hasn’t included any time for you. It’s been all work, work, work.

With exercise, sleep, your diet, stress management there isn’t an clear or immediate feel-good association. Only the pat on the back you give yourself.

This immediate gratification is what you are fighting against in order to make a change.

Not giving into the things that feel good now but doing the things that will pay off later. Delayed gratification. The gratification that comes from achieving confidence from looking and feeling good. That feeling of being stronger, healthier, energised takes a bit of time.

But, imagine waking up every day feeling good, happy with what you see in the mirror. Thinking ‘you know what I’m going to change my social media profile pic to not just a headshot’.

‘I’m going to get those jeans from that store’.

This gratification will not be short lived! This will be with you for the foreseeable future, long-term happiness.

Sleep revenge!

You don’t need me to convince you of the benefits of sleep and I’m sure you’ve heard about them:

  • Boosting your immune system.
  • Help prevent weight gain.
  • Sleep can strengthen your heart.
  • Better sleep = better mood.
  • Sleeping can increase productivity.
  • Sleep can increase exercise performance.
  • Sleep improves memory.

But getting the hours of sleep required to see us recover and be at our best can be a challenge. This is because we have various demands that battle for our finite time attention and energy.


And it’s usually a case that choosing one of these commitments will see us miss out on another. And we humans don’t like thought of missing out, so we make decisions to avoid missing out.


For example did you know there is such a thing as revenge bedtime procrastination?! It is the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time.


When your high-stress job takes up the bulk of your day. Revenge bedtime procrastination is a way to find a few hours of entertainment. It’s very easily done. After all this time is where you have currently assigned time for yourself to wind down. Or it could be time with you spend with your other half.

Even though it results in insufficient sleep, staying up late to do what you want gives you a sense of control that you don’t feel you have during your work or family life. Even if the “revenge” is mostly on oneself.


Although revenge bedtime procrastination can be tempting. late nights followed by early mornings can directly lead to serious sleep deprivation.
Sleep procrastination can take different forms. One involves delaying the act of getting into bed (bedtime procrastination). Another is delaying the time of trying to fall asleep once in bed (while-in-bed procrastination). A person may engage in one or both forms of sleep procrastination, each of which can reduce nightly sleep.

Also with engaging in this bedtime procrastination and knowing/generally wanting to receive enough sleep, but failing to do so creates cognitive dissonance (mental conflict).


There is also the concept of searching for perfect sleep conditions that can cause sleep problems. Take for example if something doesn’t confirm with your idea of the perfect sleep environment. You could then lay there disgruntled and tell yourself.


I’m not going to get to sleep now without x’


This is where a night time routine can be helpful. A night-time routine can reduce the impulse to stay up later instead of going to bed.

  • Keeping a consistent bedtime (setting an alarm to start this night time routine) and wake-up time (sleep cycle app), including non-working days.
  • Avoiding alcohol or caffeine late in the afternoon or evening.
  • Stop the use of electronic devices for at least half-an-hour, and longer, before bed.
  • Developing a stable routine to use every night to prepare for bed.

Reading, showering/bathing, meditating, or stretching, can be part of your bedtime routine. Relaxation techniques may also decrease the stress that can drive revenge bedtime procrastination.


Also creating an inviting bedroom environment. One that is dark and quiet, has a comfortable mattress and bedding can also make going to sleep more appealing. And reduce the desire to sacrifice sleep for leisure activities.


Hope this helps.


p.s. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!