Feel Good Now. Ask Me How
How I look at maintaining a healthy lifestyle has changed in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been studying up on the brain neurotransmitter Dopamine and realize it can be a powerful ally to encourage practicing healthy habits.
Dopamine is the body’s natural feel good, pleasure chemical. The body uses it to reward behavior that it wants you to repeat – like sex and eating.
Unfortunately, it also releases Dopamine in response to certain illegal drugs too, like methamphetamine (aka “Crystal Meth”). One of the reasons the drug is so addictive is that it gives a rush of Dopamine that six times higher than normal.
Watch this short, shocking video to see how powerfully this works:
Video: The World’s Most Dangerous Drug
But there are natural ways you can increase Dopamine that does not harm your body the way drugs do. Some studies show that obese people may have lower levels of Dopamine than normal and so unconsciously seek out ways to raise it with food.
The problem is that many times they seek sugar or simple carbohydrates. While these do stimulate Dopamine, these foods end up desensitizing Dopamine receptors eventually. So, it takes more and more sugar to receive the same pleasure – just like with other drugs. It becomes a vicious circle.
You want a win/win situation – to increase Dopamine to make it easier to reach your weight loss goals without the negative side effects. One way to increase Dopamine naturally is through exercise. I exercise first thing in the morning and it makes me feel good all day.
But here is the key – whatever exercise you do, do it with full attention on your body movement. No distractions or mental drifting. Be interested in how your muscles move and imagine them getting stronger. If you have a mirror, I recommend exercising in front of it so you can see your body working and really appreciate how God designed you.
Here are some exercises I’ve added to the regular workout I do most mornings. These are called ‘Tiger Moves’ and I learned them in a book called “The Miracle Seven” by John Peterson and Wendie Pett. In this video, Peterson demonstrates the moves:
I love these exercises because it feels good to do them, plus they strengthen and stretch you at the same time. Peterson recommends you start out by doing all the exercises one time then work up to repeating the sequence three times.
Be sure to take deep breaths as you move, exhaling on the challenging parts and inhaling on the easier ones. In exercising this way, it becomes a form of stress-relieving meditation.
The other thing you can do to increase Dopamine is to eat foods that encourage its production. Your body needs the amino acid tyrosine to produce Dopamine. Foods high in tyrosine include:
Fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, oats, wheat, avocado, bananas, almonds, lima beans, pinto beans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, cottage cheese, and yogurt (get plain and add your own fruit with some Stevia for sweetness; fruit-flavored yogurts are generally very high in sugar).
Most mornings I eat old fashioned oatmeal for breakfast after my workout to further increase my Dopamine production. It makes me feel more energetic and positive for the rest of the day.
I hope you find these tips useful and will use them every day to help yourself feel good naturally! The more pleasure you get from your health habits, the more you’ll want to do them.
Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness,
Certified Wellness Coach
Author of the ‘Take Back Your Temple’ ebook