Ahhh, dopamine. Often vilified for its link to drugs like cocaine, dopamine is simply a neurotransmitter, a brain chemical that creates a reward system to get us hooked to certain behaviors. Today I want to briefly discuss some ways to harness dopamine for good and point you to some resources which will deepen your understanding of dopamine, how to naturally support it and how it can actually help you.
Dopamine, as mentioned, creates a reward system in your brain when particular actions are performed. Get a question right when you’re watching Jeopardy, little shot of dopamine. Cross everything off your to-do list for the day, boost of dopamine. Ingest caffeine, a real nice shot of dopamine. These shots of dopamine create a pleasurable link in your brain, connecting the good feelings with the behavior. This is why dopamine-dominant drugs are so addicting. They create an attachment in the brain and require more and more of the substance to get the same effect. You can see this with caffeine addiction with a huge amount of people. But these connections don’t have to derail us from being productive. Instead, this boost can encourage better behaviors. Let’s discuss a couple of ways to use dopamine to help your fitness.
Our first strategy is simply conditioning your body to drinking caffeine or a pre-workout supplement containing it before you should exercise. A drink that tastes sweet can also instigate some of the wanted response though obviously a healthy version of a sugary drink is far preferable. The subsequent dopamine burst can then begin to be linked with your trip and performance at the gym, not to mention all of the other endorphins and healthy results from the workout. I have found this conditioning very useful when I do not feel like working out but really need to, particularly if I know I won’t have any time in my schedule for the next day or two. I’ll simply drink my pre-workout supplement and though I was very tired before, my body believes it is time to go lift. Next thing I know, I’m at the gym getting after it.
Another trick to amplify your gym performance is using certain songs that get your hyped up only for the gym. Saving the songs that get you the most energized for when you really need them gives you another weapon when your lazy side doesn’t want to work hard. But be careful how much you use these songs, you don’t want the effect to dissipate. You know when you hear a certain catchy tune, get hooked on it and listen to it almost nonstop for days then get sick of it? We don’t want that happening to you with that wild Sinatra, Celine Dion or Weezy song. These songs can also be used to encourage other habits such as writing. Writing articles can get tedious at times but when I turn on an album that gets me revved up a bit, I just type and type. I’ve learned to crave the combination and use it when my brain is trying to fool me into thinking I have writer’s block.
I could go on and on about aspects of dopamine but instead, here are some links to great videos on it. They include supplements, how a former drug user used that dopamine drive and his support group’s code to start a very successful business and more.
Remember, dopamine doesn’t have to be the boogieman that only keeps you hooked to social media and ice cream. Learn more about it and start making it work for YOU!