Always Winning Means Always Dopamine Releasing

winning, dopamine

What do you want to achieve with your fitness?

So many of us get caught up in paralysis by analysis thinking we have to learn more when doing more is the only answer.

All you have to do is start with where you want to get too.

  • Maybe it’s getting a 6 pack.
  • Maybe it’s getting an 8 pack.
  • Maybe it’s losing 20lbs.
  • Maybe it’s losing 100lbs.

Set your goal then reverse engineer that goal with small achievable steps or wins.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do you think a person who has a 6 pack does on a daily basis?
  • How long have they been doing this for?
  • What weight can they lift?
  • What are their daily and weekly habits?

It could be a long journey to get to this goal with lots of moments where you think and feel like quitting…

To make it feel shorter (and more achievable) we need to create an internal reward system that rewards our actions.

This will help keep you motivated when such a goal seems so distant…

What I’m talking about is creating your own dopamine reward loop.

WTF Josh?

Let’s break it down…

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter.

A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger in the nervous system that helps neurons communicate. They control many body functions like mood and movement by sending signals between nerve cells. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain crucial for pleasure, movement, cognition, and mood. They regulate reward, motivation, and addiction, acting through specific receptors in the brain. 

Most drugs affect neurotransmitters.
And this is why they are so addictive.

For example, cocaine primarily affects dopamine neurotransmission in the brain. It blocks the re-uptake of dopamine, leading to increased dopamine levels, which results in heightened feelings of pleasure and euphoria.

How do you create your own dopamine feedback loop without an external stimulus like drugs or alcohol?

Creating your own dopamine feedback loop involves engaging in activities that stimulate dopamine release in the brain, leading to feelings of pleasure and reward.

This can be achieved by setting and achieving goals, engaging in enjoyable activities, and practicing self-care habits that promote well-being.

By consistently engaging in these behaviours, you reinforce the dopamine response, creating a positive feedback loop that enhances motivation, productivity, and overall happiness.

So it’s time for you to create your layer cake of dopamine loops.

My attempt at defining a layer cake of dopamine loops:
Creating a “layer cake of dopamine loops” metaphorically refers to establishing multiple sources of pleasure, reward, and motivation in one’s life. Just as a layer cake consists of multiple layers stacked on top of each other, each contributing to the overall structure and flavor of the cake, creating a layer cake of dopamine loops involves engaging in various activities or pursuits that individually stimulate dopamine release in the brain.

By building and maintaining multiple sources of enjoyment, accomplishment, and satisfaction, you can enhance your overall happiness and resilience against setbacks while striving for your goal.

Ok, so now that we got that out of the way….

Ask yourself right now what’s important to you in your health and fitness.

(like really important to you, the kind of thing that you would say right now if you know you couldn’t fail)

And then take action towards achieving it with easily achievable dopamine reward loops.

Don’t create ones that are too hard, as you want a constant stream of dopamine hits.

This works amazingly as dopamine makes you feel better, so you’ll want to seek out more, and as you constantly get closer to your goal, you’ll be getting more dopamine releases…

This is actually what the world’s toughest mindsets do to forge their spirit giving themselves small goals within the larger goal so they get constant dopamine hits preventing them from quitting on ultra marathons and other extreme endeavours.

This is something you can even utilize in the context of our workouts.

For example, if the workout says do 100 calories on the rower, you’d set small achievable goals each minute to get your dopamine hit, like setting a goal of 9 cals every minute and then getting 10 will give you small wins and dopamine hits every minute, keeping you engaged, motivated and continuing on.

So to summarize.
Discipline comes from small wins.
Small wins lead to medium wins.
Medium wins lead to big wins.

Small wins are all the daily wins you can think of.
The medium win is the weekly summary win.

The week is the ideal window you want to look at with your workouts and nutrition.
This gives you permission to live life, not being perfect, while still hitting goals that are easily achievable.

If you’re in a calorie deficit over the entire week, you’re winning.

It doesn’t even matter even if you had pizza on Saturday if you had great nutrition the rest of the week and hit your goal you’re still winning.

See we actually just turned what many people would see as a negative with their goals and nutrition into a positive.

That feels like a flex right there.

Creating a mindset of small daily wins acknowledges the micro wins you want to feel making yourself feel as if you’re always winning and enjoying the journey along the way.

There are of course different types of wins and you can create anything that motivates you and triggers a feel good dopamine release.

Here’s a few examples:

  • Every workout is a win
  • A workout where you didn’t want to workout is a win
  • A workout where you took it easy because you felt like shit or was managing an injury is a win
  • Not gaining a pound on vacation is a win
  • Getting in 10,000 steps/day is a win
  • Getting in 70,000 steps/week is a win (remember viewing our successes over a week is so important for success)
  • Getting in 3 workouts/week is a win (if that was your goal)
  • Getting in 1 more workout than you said you would in a week is a win
  • Dropping a dress size is a win
  • Listening to your body and taking a rest day is a win
  • Coming to the gym when you feel real sore and just riding the bike for 30 min is a win
  • Just doing mobility cause your sore is a win
  • Seeing that new muscle in the mirror is a win
  • Starting a new program is a win (like the biggest winner)
  • Staying at the same weight losing fat and building muscle is a win
  • Losing 1lb is a win
  • Losing 2lbs in a week is a win
  • Starting a new habit is a win
  • Keeping that new habit for a week is win
  • Having a good sleep is a win
  • Sleeping in because your body needed it more and missing a workout is a win
  • Doing 15 reps in that workout when you told yourself you would do 10 reps is a win
  • Increasing your weight in that workout for just 1 set is a win
  • Holding that plank 1 sec longer than when the clock beeps is a win
  • Holding that plank longer than the person next to you is a win
  • Saying no to that sauce is a win
  • Saying no to alcohol on a Tuesday is a win
  • Never missing a Monday is a win

You decide your wins and your micro victories.

Do this until you reach your big goal, creating as many goals as you want along the way.

And before you reach that goal, create your next achievable goal for the future because dopamine is the molecule of anticipation.

For example, if your goal is to lose 20lbs, as you get close to achieving your goal, you would then create your next goal, like building bigger glutes, or doing your first full range pushup or pullup or…

So as many of you take on the biggest winner challenge this week, create your goal, then create your list of wins to empower you for the 12 weeks, while creating goals along the way to extend your feel good vibes through 12 weeks and beyond.

Having just one goal sets you up for failure, sets you up for complacency, and sets you up to fall into your old bad habits once you achieve it.

(Unless you state that maintenance is your next goal or reverse dieting to build your metabolism, etc)

There is no right answer here.

You are creating endless micro wins which make you feel good and enjoy the journey so that you are always motivated to move forward to your goal and the person you wanted to become in the first sentence of this post.

Furthermore, you are programming your brain to just workout or eat healthy despite your mood or emotions and then feel the wins.

Hacking your mind like this (even if you don’t feel like it) is how you win long term in health and fitness, breaking previous bad habits and cycles of failure.

After all:
“Your life is dominated by habits so you might as well have good habits.”

Committed to your success,
Josh Saunders

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