3/23/2014

Keeping My Dopamine Levels High

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Keeping My Dopamine Levels High from Starling FitnessI don’t know about other people who are overweight, but the reason I overate was because it made me FEEL good. It gave me a high. More specifically, it gave me a dopamine surge every time I binged.

Now, eating a healthy diet can get tedious. Unless I am careful, I will get bored of my food and routines. I need to keep my levels of dopamine high without bingeing. Learning how to do that has been difficult for me, but here are a few things I’ve learned.

Change My Food Regularly

Dopamine levels out with healthy food from Starling FitnessAs I learned in How Sugar Affects The Brain, a healthy meal will give me a boost of dopamine. Not as good as sugar, but pleasurable nonetheless. If I KEEP eating that same meal every day, however, I won’t get that same dopamine rush as I did before.

So, I have to keep changing my daily meals. About every two weeks, I choose something completely different for my snacks, breakfasts and lunches so that I don’t get mind-numbingly bored of my food.

Run Like My Life Depends On It, Every Once And A While

Wii BoxingI’ve talked about this idea before. If you do a workout where you feel as if your life depended on it, you get a surge of feel good hormones.

The only problem is if you do this kind of workout every day. Your brain will get bored and used to being chased by dogs, zombies or punching out the scruffy-looking Mii on your boxing game. You have to use these workouts sparingly or they won’t give you those feel-good chemicals.

Eat Foods With The Good Stuff

Clandestine Clementines by Laura Moncur 04-15-06There are foods that make your brain more sensitive to the smaller amounts of dopamine that you will be giving it, so you want to load up on them.

  • Tyrosine: Your body needs it to make dopamine and you get it from meat, dairy, legumes, avocados, bananas and almonds.
  • Beta-carotene: Prevents dopamine from oxidizing and you get it from fruits and veggies that are dark green and orange.
  • Vitamin E: Also prevents dopamine from oxidizing and you get it from nuts, cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower) and carrots.
  • Vitamin C: Another anti-oxidant that helps dopamine stay “fresh” and you get it from citrus fruits, strawberries and cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower).

Also, avoiding binge foods keeps your brain from becoming numb to dopamine. Whatever food is your drug, avoid it.

Set Tiny, Obtainable Goals and Achieve Them Every Day

Give Yourself A Dopamine Boost With A To-Do List from Starling FitnessBenjamin Franklin worked on this technique and it’s the whole idea behind the Franklin Covey planners. This year, I bought myself a planner and just listing the tiny and seemingly inconsequential things I do every day has brought great joy. I can write more than one entry a day, but setting my goal low gives me the feel-good chemicals I need. I actually read for fun, but putting it on the list forces me to take time for myself. Set a goal, no matter how easy it seems and achieve it. You’ll get a chemical reward from your own physiology.

I Get Plenty of Sleep

Don't Forget To Sleep from Starling FitnessYour brain needs to recharge. I talked about this before here:

When I am exercising hard, eating less calories and working on the emotional reasons I want to binge, I NEED extra sleep. This is HARD work and my body needs that extra time to recharge my dopamine levels.

I Listen To Some Good Tunes

Music Is My Higher Power from Starling FitnessThere have been scientific studies that listening to music that is pleasurable to the subject lights up the pleasure centers in the brain. Whatever music makes me happy, I listen to it. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said:

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.

When I give myself time to just enjoy music, I get a dopamine high without the calories. My biggest problem is not letting myself just sit and enjoy music. Sometimes I have to put it on my to-do list just so I can get that benefit.

I Meditate

I spend 15 minutes every day meditating. The longer I do it, the better I am at making those feelings of peace and transcendence come. If you have the luxury of believing in God, make sure you take time EVERY day to pray and talk to that all-powerful being. If you are an atheist like me, you can still access those good feelings. I just access that part of my mind that lets me feel “The Other.” It was hard to do at first, but with practice, I am able to get a small dopamine rush that has started to rival my favorite binge foods.

What Else Is There?

There actually is a huge list of ways to get a good dopamine high without food:

  • Read a good book
  • Get a manicure and pedicure
  • Get a massage
  • Take my dog for a walk
  • Snuggle with my cat
  • Have some great sex
  • Call a friend on the phone
  • Enjoy time with my family
  • Watch a funny or romantic movie
  • Organize something in my house
  • Clean up some clutter
  • Do some crafty thing like crochet or going crazy with my hot glue gun
  • Read a magazine
  • Play a video game
  • Write in my journal
  • Take pretty pictures
  • Sit on the heat vent with a blanket over my legs
  • Take a warm bath
  • Color in a coloring book
  • Do some yard work
  • Lay out in the sun
  • Go to a thrift shop and look for strange treasures
  • Draw pictures
  • Write letters, email or texts to friends

What have I missed? What do you do to make yourself feel better without bingeing? The next time you are tempted to overeat, return to this page and start doing something ELSE to make your dopamine centers light up. You don’t have to overeat. It may be the simplest way to get that sort of reward, but it is also damaging to your body. Find another way to make yourself feel good.

Brain image via: Studio3Music – The #1 Kindermusik Studio | Music is as Enjoyable as Sex « Studio3Music – The #1 Kindermusik Studio

3/22/2014

Don’t Forget To Sleep

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Don't Forget To Sleep from Starling Fitness

I have been TIRED. I’ve needed to go to bed early. I’ve needed naps in the middle of the day. I’ve felt so insanely tired that I have worried that I was getting sick. And then I remembered…

I’m losing weight.

For the first time in a LONG time, I’m actually losing weight. I have been working with a sponsor with Overeaters Anonymous and it’s really emotional work. I wrote out my Step Four Inventory and the next day, I slept the whole day. Going over all of those things from my past is draining.

Not to mention all the eating less and exercising more.

Working through the steps makes eating less and exercising more easier. So much easier that I forget that I’m doing it. And then I wonder why I’m so dang tired.

So, don’t forget to SLEEP. Losing weight is hard work and it will make you tired, so make sure you go to bed early and steal a nap every now and then.

2/23/2014

Death Fries by PacSun

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

So, a crazy woman bought out PacSun store’s ‘indecent’ T-shirts in Orem, Utah this week. Since I live in Utah, this sort of embarrassment is appalling to me and I wanted to see exactly HOW indecent they were. I went to the PacSun website. They weren’t indecent, but that’s another story.

Utah Crazy Woman Protests PacSun By Buying Out All The Indecent Shirts from Starling Fitness

I wanted to buy some clothes from them just in a sort of counter-protest to the crazy Utah woman, but they don’t sell any in my size right now. But that’s yet another story.

Today’s story is about this tshirt that I found while looking for the “indecent” ones.

Death Fries by PacSun on Starling Fitness

It just shows a drawing of french fries with the word, “death” under it. Is it true? Does every fast food restaurant serve Death Fries with that?

Part of me railed against the idea. It’s an over-simplification that just perpetuates the idea of “good” food and “bad” food. It makes the french fries feel forbidden and makes them a tad more appealing in the process. A serving of french fries every once and a while will not kill you. Our bodies are extremely adaptive and can recover from the greasy, salty and starchy combination.

Then again, for me, french fries DO represent death in some respects. I only eat them when I’m in the middle of a binge. I only crave them when I am feeling emotionally damaged and slightly suicidal. So, are they Death Fries? For me, yes.

2/22/2014

How Sugar Affects The Brain

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

This video from TED-Ed is brilliant!

It’s especially helpful at the 3:12 mark. It was so helpful to me that I transcribed it:

Speaking of healthy foods, let’s say you’re hungry and decide to eat a balanced meal. You do and dopamine levels spike in the reward hot spots. But if you eat that same dish many days in a row, dopamine levels will spike less and less, eventually leveling out.

Dopamine levels out with healthy food from Starling Fitness

That’s because, when it comes to food, the brain evolved to pay special attention to new or different tastes. Why? Two reasons: first, to detect food that has gone bad, and second, because the more variety we have in our diet, the more likely we are to get all the nutrients we need. To keep that variety up, we need to be able to recognize a new food and, more importantly, we need to want to keep eating new foods, and that’s why the dopamine levels off when a food becomes boring.

The brain gets bored of regular food for two reasons from Starling Fitness

Now back to that meal. What happens if in place of the healthy, balanced dish, you eat sugar-rich food instead? If you rarely eat sugar, or don’t eat much at a time, the affect is similar to that of the balanced meal. But, if you eat too much, the dopamine response does NOT level out. In other words, eating lots of sugar will continue to feel rewarding. In this way, sugar behaves a little bit like a drug.

Sugar behaves like a drug from Starling Fitness

THIS is why I have a harder time with wanting to binge about a month after eating healthy! I tend to go a little obsessive and eat the same stupid thing for breakfast every day. The same stupid thing for snacks. The same stupid thing for lunch. The only variety I get regularly is at dinnertime.

THIS is why I get all excited about a new recipe! Because my brain is telling me it’s AWESOME! But if I eat it too often, my brain will think it’s boring and urge me to eat other foods instead, especially those ones that feel REALLY good.

THIS is why I need to be vigilant. I need to give my brain lots of different taste adventures that are HEALTHY. I need to read recipes and try them. I need to watch out for my obsessive behaviors and not eat the same thing every day for months at a time until I don’t want to eat them anymore.

THIS changes EVERYTHING for me!

2/12/2014

Victoria’s Secret Model Karolina Kurkova Looking PERFECT

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I saw this image of Victoria’s Secret model Karolina Kurkova on Funeral For My Fat and I’m ashamed to say that the first thing I noticed was the cellulite on her legs.

Victoria’s Secret model Karolina Kurkova from Starling Fitness

If a Victoria’s Secret model has cellulite, then it is NORMAL for women to have cellulite. The idea that we’re NOT supposed to have it was created by all those companies who are making anti-cellulite creams and drugs and rubs and wraps.

Don’t buy ANYTHING that promises to remove cellulite. It’s a NORMAL aspect of women’s bodies and does not need to be eradicated. It’s like saying that you have unsightly hair on your head. Love your little leg lumps and let’s hope that someday everyone will be able to look at that picture and realize that it’s Karolina Kurkova looking PERFECT!

1/29/2014

I Eat When The Fitbit Tells Me To Eat

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

The Fitbit Flex on my wrist went off at 10 am, but I was trying to write a blog entry. I ignored it. The irony is that I was trying to write an entry for Starling Fitness. I should have just looked at my wrist and realized that I had forgotten the most important thing to keep me eating healthy: I Eat When The Fitbit Tells Me To Eat.

Eat When The Fitbit Tells You to Eat from Starling Fitness

Fitbit Silent Alarms from Starling FitnessThere should be no question about it. I used to want to eat ALL day long without relief from the hunger. It wasn’t until I set alarms every two and a half hours that I found that I could go any amount of time without thinking about food.

Now, I find myself FORGETTING about food and making the alarm go away without bothering to eat. I went a half hour without eating my apple that was already washed and ready to eat. All I had to do was put it in my piehole.

Why? Why do I let myself forget the torment of constant obsession with food and fall into bad habits? As long as I FEED my poor, abused body, it will give me HOURS of time when I won’t even THINK about food. If I had to feed my cat every two and a half hours, I wouldn’t think twice about abandoning my work and jumping up when the alarm went off. Yet, when it comes time to feed MYSELF, I won’t even bother.

And the worst trick of all, is that if I don’t feed myself healthy food every two and a half hours, I get FATTER!! I end up feeling so hungry that I eat an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting. It’s a paradoxical practical joke that I have played on my body for years, and yet, I still haven’t learned how to do it properly.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard. I alternately starved and stuffed my body for YEARS and I’ve only been practicing this type of eating for three months. I’m trying to undo YEARS of bad habits, so I guess it’s going to take some time until this is second nature to me. Until then, I am going to jump when that alarm goes off and stick some food in my piehole!


Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

12/2/2013

Sci Show: Fecal Transplants and Obesity

By Laura Moncur @ 9:27 am — Filed under:

Here is a Sci Show from February 2012 that talks about the reasons for obesity.

It boils down to MANY factors that are simply out of your hands:

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Climate control
  • Many people quit smoking
  • Exposure to industrial chemicals
  • Genetics
  • Fecal bacteria

They did an episode with more information about fecal transplants here:

All of this is really depressing because I really LIKE having a warm house in the winter. I don’t have control over what chemicals are pumped into the air or what my mother weighed when she was pregnant with me. I can make sure I sleep enough, never start smoking and even volunteer for fecal transplant studies, but I still feel very discouraged. It was so much easier when calories in VS. calories out was the only factor. I had hope back then…

8/24/2013

The Men Who Made Us Thin

By Laura Moncur @ 2:18 am — Filed under:

This show is brilliant. It takes away all my hope that I will ever be thin, but it is brilliant.

Here is episode 2:

Episode 3: This episode includes a man who has a tube permanently attached to his stomach where he can eat a full meal and then empty out the eaten food into the toilet. It’s a disgusting medical device for bulimia.

Episode 4:

Via: Fat Head » The Men Who Made Us Thin

1/7/2012

A Year of Living Healthy

By Laura Moncur @ 9:05 am — Filed under:

This TEDMed video was titled, “How healthy living nearly killed me.” It’s not quite as dramatic as that, but it was interesting.

When he talked about wearing a helmet EVERYWHERE, it pushed things over the edge for me. I admit I’ve had a bicycle helmet that I’ve loved so much that I wanted to wear it all the time, but when I said that to Mike, he let me know with a single look that I was acting crazy.

When the health advice out there is so extreme that it makes you look crazy to follow it, it’s time to reevaluate our health advice.

6/23/2011

Weekly Veggies with a Farm Coop

By Laura Moncur @ 11:16 am — Filed under:

Yesterday, Mike and I got our first weekly delivery of veggies from Petersen Family Farms. We signed up for their farm cooperative in January, so we have been eagerly awaiting veggies from them for months. After such a cold winter and spring, they are just now harvesting some for us.

Having a weekly shipment of veggies brought to us lets us try new things and urges us to eat more vegetables. You’d think that going to the grocery store and buying a couple heads of fresh lettuce and beet greens would be incentive enough, but when we picked up this box of produce, it was different. We met the guy who grew them, so it made me want to eat them instead of letting them go to waste.

If you have been having trouble getting more veggies into your diet, try visiting a local farm, farmer’s market or signing up for a farm coop. It won’t provide you with fresh veggies all year long, but during these glorious months of summer, you’ll have great tasting veggies.

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