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 to increase your testosterone levels.

High testosterone is essential for a man, and if you aren’t optimising yours you’re leaving happiness and success on the table!

Healthy levels of testosterone are so important. For general health, disease risk, body composition, sexual function and just about everything else.

Additionally, increasing your testosterone levels can cause rapid gains in muscle mass and vitality in only a matter of weeks.

But how can you boost your testosterone levels? And how can you do it naturally so you can avoid hormone replacement therapy?

Let’s have a look at some lifestyle factors that will remedy the situation.

First up is exercise, to be more specific resistance training/weights.

People who lift have higher testosterone levels. Not does exercise increase testosterone levels, and fitness but also reaction times.

Factor into your week a minimum effective dosage. Resistance the urge to go full banana and instead commit to an amount of sessions you can realistically stick to. Even if only 2 sessions per week.

A Balanced diet,

to clarify, is eating enough protein, to aid satiety to aid weight loss, and muscle repair. Having enough carbohydrates also optimize testosterone levels during resistance training. And a balance of fats which are also beneficial for testosterone and health.

Combined with an energy target for your goal you will have a ‘REAL’ healthy diet.

Stress management

Natural elevations in cortisol can reduce testosterone. These hormones work in a seesaw-like manner: as one goes up, the other comes down.

Chronic stress and high cortisol can also increase food intake, weight gain, and the storage of fat around your organs.

This is why it is paramount you input into your day time for actions that will see you decompress, away from stressors and stimulation.

Sleep

Getting good sleep is as, if not more important for your health as diet and exercise. It also has major effects on your testosterone levels.

The ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person. But one study found sleeping only 5 hours per night caused a 15% reduction in testosterone levels!

This is why it would be prudent to implement a bedtime routine that will improve the duration and quality of your sleep. Why not set an alarm at the same time each day to start your bedtime routine

For more help with these lifestyle factors download a free copy of my guide The Gentleman’s Vitality Handbook

How do you have the energy?

Time, time, wherefore art thou time? The question we all ask when it comes to working on our personal goals, business and spending time with our loved ones.

But we know wishing and hoping for more time is futile, as you can’t increase the hours in the day!

But you can increase your energy levels. Which will see you function better and be more productive with the time you do have.

Managing and improving the quality of your time is paramount! As time is the most valuable commodity we have!

You cannot generate more of it (well, only through healthy living).

And how you spend it has a direct correlation on your happiness. Are you a master of your time? Or are you a slave to it?

Are you spending it in accorardance with what you want to achieve in life? Are the actions you take fall in line with reaching your true potential? Do you have the energy to do those things?

The people that are performing at their best. Those who are at the top of their game have an plenty of energy.

Having this energy allows them to perform at their best for longer and be more creative. They consistently execute.

They create this energy through fuelling themselves properly, training efficiently and resting appropriately.

Throw in drive and passion for their profession and they are unstoppable.

So I ask you; do you have the energy that you need to reach your true potential?

You choose.

Every day we make approximately 35,000 decisions

Decisions like:

‘how should I respond to this email’.

‘should I order this meal or this meal’.

‘do I go or not’.

These decisions range from the inconsequential to the very important.

But what we misinterpret is the severity of these ‘inconsequential’ decisions over time.

Those decisions by themselves, in isolation are not important.

It’s the compounding of those poor decisions over time that build into something formidable.

Very rarely are these decisions ‘just for now’ or ‘only this once’.

And here’s the thing, the choices you make day in day out aren’t really choices. You aren’t making any decisions. Because you are on autopilot.

You’ll make the same decision as you did last time.

It’s easier that way. And your mind loves the easy option.

It’s adverse to challenge and discomfort. Which is why it will go with the option that sees avoidance of pain.

Which is irronic because pain is unavoidable.

You can experience it now or later. But you will experience it. And thats why we need look at the choice of pain.

You get to choose your pain.

The pain of exercising or the pain of disapointment from not being able to play with your kids for more than a minute because of poor fitness.

The pain of self restraint with your diet or the pain of feeling uncomfortable in your clothes.

The pain of missing out on another TV episode or the pain of feeling fatigued the next day.

The pain of working on emotional control and stress or the pain of embarrassing yourself from losing your shit at a co worker in front of the entire office.

The pain of building self-discipline or the pain of knowing you’ve let yourself go.

It would be better that you choose the pain rather than your body and mind choose it for you!

How to build motivation

When I talk to people about High Performance, sometimes the word “motivation” comes up.

“I’ve tried all kinds of diets and fitness regimens,” they might say.

Shortly followed by “but I can never seem to keep up the motivation.”

The reality is High Performance has nothing to do with motivation. It’s definitely not the magic key that unlocks your potential. As so many online gurus would have you believe.

High Performance is formed from the process of building habits. Specific actions in your daily routine linked to your goals.

It’s about pursuing your potential for yourself and those that matter most.

It requires a plan, a roadmap, that sees you fine tune your actions. It’s not something you do overnight.

Think about what athletes do (some I’ve coached). They follow a specialized training program. Designed to improve their physical, psychological, technical skill set.

They support their training with habits such as getting restful and restorative sleep. They eat nutritious foods, build mental resilience through mindfulness, and foster supportive relationships.

Notice that motivation wasn’t mentioned once.

That’s because motivation is unreliable. And if you rely on it you are going to be inconsistent with your actions.

Long-term success is built upon small daily actions that move the you closer to your goal.

Modern neuroscience even demonstrates that from these small progressions you’ll be internally rewarded. Through a built-in neurochemical mechanism.

You don’t need superhuman motivation to elevate your performance (because it doesn’t exist).

The process isn’t reserved for gold medallists or billionaire entrepreneurs. All you need is a desire to pursue your potential.

If that’s something you’re interested in click here.

How to improve your energy, confidence & performance.

When we look past the superficial of aesthetics or leanness – is when when we get to the root of our desires.

Going beyond the norms of what society tells us we want, to find our true reason to improve our health and wellbeing.

Which is why want energy, confidence and better performance.

And this is coming from someone who has competed in Body Building.

I’ve attained much more enjoyment from pursuits that have been performance based i.e. Marathons, Power lifting. And I’m even more excited about upcoming open water swim and Mountaineering pursuits.

In terms of physical fitness and performance I’ve never been better than I am now.

And this will only improve because of the compounding effect of the day to day actions that are part of my routine.

I emphasise MY routine because not one size fits all. It has to be bespoke for you!

What you can commit to with exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management is unique to you.

And you have to optimise those pillars to see you be at your best, to be on top of your game!

And hear me when I say it’s got to be bespoke because when we try and conform to something that is so far removed from our lives it won’t last!

That’s because the regimes and protocols out their are cookie cut on someone else’s plan. And to adapt and adhere to it you have to be at your best or nigh on perfect!

For success a plan needs to work even when you aren’t at your best. What you can be consistent with on your worst days.

Factoring in a margin of error!

Because we don’t rise to our goals we fall to our habits.

Which is what my coaching program The Performance Project is all about.

Devising a plan for you to help you build habits that will see make progress even when life gets hectic.

A plan that works in the face of high pressure and adversity. Taking into consideration all the obstacles that life is sure to throw at us.

Paired with accountability and support to see you break through plateaus and perform at your best.

For more info click here

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!

Single player game

Most people are playing a multiplayer game.

Comparing and contrasting against others.

‘What have they got?’

‘I should have that too’

‘I need to better them’

If you want to progress what it would be prudent to realise is;

You’re playing against yourself!

No one else.

The people that progress in their lives are playing a single player game.

By adopting this approach only then do you win.

You will no longer be making uneven comparisons. And you’ll find yourself making better decisions.

Decisions derived from the principle of;

short-term pain long-term gain.

When I say pain I’m not talking about the searing pain of exercising whilst injured. Or other methods of seld destruction.

Because those things have no long term gain!

I’m talking about the acute that leads to future returns.

The healthier meal option

The workout.

The decision to turn off the TV and go to bed on time.

The decision to put down a device and think.

So when faced you are faced with your next decision. Ask yourself which has more short term pain and long term gain.

Look! Something shiny!

Have you ever thought about having a super power??

I’m sure you have (mine would be the invisibility one).

But what if I told you that you could actually have a superpower?! What I’m getting at is in today’s world, sustained attention may be a superpower!

We are pulled in all directions, half-attending to everything that’s going on, and don’t know what is important or valuable.

Perhaps you’ve been in that situation: What to do first? Let me Google it! What about this blog / article / social media drama? Oh hey, look over here!

Or, you find yourself saying to someone; How about this plan? What about that plan? I did Plan A for 2 days while reading about Plan B then I jumped to Plan C and oh by the way, did you hear about Plan D?

The problem isn’t ‘not enough information’. We have more information than we know what to do with! But rarely are you going to change based on information alone.

People still smoke knowing full well it’s not a good idea!

It’s not information overload; it’s filter failure. Without a strong ‘focus filter’ (i.e., I am choosing to pay attention to THIS now), we experience the mental/cognitive stress of:

  • too much information; and
  • the effort required to pull our attention away from “shiny things” (i.e., irrelevant distractions) and keep it honed in on what matters.

Problems focusing and paying attention tend to come with other problems too.

For instance, struggles with attention may have you wondering why you procrastinate. Or why you’re so disorganized, impulsive, or sensitive.

You may have a pattern of launching into “life transformation” projects with great enthusiasm, but soon run out of steam. Making you feel quite discouraged.

Now, our information-rich, device-driven society isn’t to blame. We didn’t overnight become zombies because we got smartphones.

It’s because as human beings we want to escape undesirable states, like being bored or irritable. And now, we have infinitely more ways to do that. Plus nobody’s teaching you the skills to do otherwise.

Unfortunately, distraction is not actually replenishing. It doesn’t actually decrease our cognitive stress.

For goals we want to accomplish, what we need is traction — choosing an activity, and then staying on track.

Mental and cognitive recovery thus involves building the skills of:

  • filtering and prioritizing; and
  • focused, deliberate attention.

A state of mind called ‘soft fascination’ may help restore our attention.

‘Soft fascination’ is when our attention is held by a less active or stimulating activity. Like reflection or introspection. It’s particularly powerful in natural environments. Such as when we’re gazing at a beautiful mountain vista, or watching a river run past.

This might not be at all surprising to you. People have always documented that time in nature seems almost magically replenishing.

Think about it, it’s how we all lived for millennia before the invention of agriculture. And well into the 20th century, when most people in the world lived in rural areas.

So I’d like you to consider exploring doing something in a natural environment. A local park or garden maybe?!

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