Videos I Liked This Week

I get to cover a lot of channels that I really like this week so strap in. First up, Picturefit breaking down some shotty reporting like a pro.

 

Second Kurgesagt (after a wall the pronunciation will be second nature) having an honest discussion about how unhealthy meat is. It’s got me aiming to eat a little less red meat.

 

Since I’m shouting out channels I’ll put this one next even though I was going to end with it because it’s not fitness… but here’s Some More News sucking it up to talk Israel/Palestine

 

And since I’m off the topic of fitness here’s a video that will make you feel bad about your childhood. Because my childhood is a wound I pick at constantly and the internet helps me do it.

 

And finally, funly, I’m tuning up for Spartan Race so I watched a bunch of these type videos

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Book Review: The Molecule of More Part 2

Moving on to p.84 and the fact that dopamine suppresses guilt.

This perfectly explains the binge-and-remorse cycle of addiction. In the moment of temptation we don’t feel guilt, even though we know intellectually we will later, because the want is able to block out other things. The want is strong and nothing else is present so that let’s us feel like we might as well, in fact we worry we’ll regret not giving in. Because want is the only feeling we have and if we don’t indulge that then we’d feel nothing.

Which isn’t true, it’s just how your dopamine makes you feel at the time. Your brain always finds new stimuli and a new way to feel. This is why, of course, so many recovering addicts take up exercise. It changes your brain chemistry at will.

hm, we’re on p.101 and the bit I’d like to focus on is long and in two parts. Oh well let’s find a way to dive in.

It’s built around a saying that goes “We don’t believe what we hear we believe what we say.” If you lecture someone it doesn’t prime their behaviour well or at all sometimes but if you can get them to give you examples of times they’ve been noble (or whatever you want them to feel, say… shameful) then they will behaviour with more of that emotion in the future.

And the second bit builds on that with how to respond when someone makes a pro or anti change statement. If someone wants to stop drinking and they say so then you should encourage them to say more, so they encourage themselves with their own words. If they make a statement about how quitting drinking is pointless or blah blah blah, instead of pushing back you just let it fall. Don’t get them to reinforce bad ideas by defending and discussing them.

I think this also explains why people give the best advice to themselves when talking to – and about – someone else.

p.105 A nice little chat about guilt. Guilt is a strong enough emotion to battle dopamine. The two studied examples are Alcoholics Anonymous and smokers who get pregnant. In AA community is super important and one of the ways it keeps people sober (compared to people white-knuckling it on their own) is not disappointing the group. And smokers who get pregnant quit more quickly and successfully than the baseline rate.

Meaning addiction doesn’t have to be brutal and full of relapses, you just have to do it for the right reason. This is a problem of course because I’ve seen people try and force the reason in advance, declaring that this baby, dog, or gym membership will get them off cigarettes or booze because they’d just be crazy to keep going. But of course addiction is a symptom of self-loathing and now they’ve given themselves one more thing to fail at and hate themselves.

I’m not saying it doesn’t work, I’m saying you can’t plan it. There’s a story in Jog On about an alcoholic who got sober because his dog looked at him. He’d lost everything else and he wasn’t even taking care of the dog – which hadn’t been fed or walked in days – still loved him. That guilt gave him the drive to get sober and stay sober long after the dog died years later.

What matters is the man felt compassion from the dog. People trying to orchestrate their sobriety with obligation just give themselves one more way to let themselves down, and boy do addicts cherish letting themselves down, it gives them a reason to use. It’s about the loving relationship and compassion that makes people get better.

Okay last book mark – p.139. Dopamine and delusion. Dopamine let’s us plan for and be excited by the future, by the as-yet unreal. When you say you’re going to get a gym membership and really mean it and plan how good people are going to say you look at the beach – that’s dopamine. If that system runs out of control though you start to plan the impossible, make impossible connections, and be highly motivated about it.

Hence all the bullshit about genius and madness being related. Having an impossible vision that you then accomplish gets you in the history books, otherwise it gets you in the psych ward. And often highly dopaminergic people do both, great inventors have blue prints they never realize, great writers get wasted and depressed and have unproductive decades and suicide attempts, musicians make a great album because they’re a little obsessive and reclusive then have decades of silence or crap because they become really obsessive and reclusive, forever tweaking rewriting and fixing, forever motivated by dopamine to chase a feeling dopamine can’t give them.

Videos I Liked This Week

Thanks to Jeff Nippard I’ve found a new fitness YouTuber I enjoy. There was some mention of body issues last week and coincidentally this week there’s a ton. I think about it often though and I think it’s really important stay emotional stable – in fact I’d be brave enough to say that most of the time on the fitness path you should feel emotionally positive – and to treat feeling bad as a warning sign. Being hardcore, being productive, getting somewhere doesn’t mean feeling like shit all the time. Just like in endurance work outs you want to keep your heart rate in a certain range for a certain effect, you should do the same with your enjoyment-vs-suffering range and 80 percent of your work outs, and your meals, and how you feel about yourself should be enjoyable or you need to adjust something.

 

This video touches on the same thing but in a weirder way. I found it heart-breaking that Steph is worried people won’t like her if she loses her six-pack. When you’re model-hot and YouTube famous the pressure to be perfect, and to always remain perfect, is clearly brutal. You can see that by gaining ten pounds she feels like she letting a lot of people down and she needs to inoculate them and herself against the disappointment, and just like the Buff Dudes video last week there’s no way of explaining the skewed perspective except to just know it’s there. Like, she’s still – and probably always will be – one of the most fit and gorgeous woman on the planet, not to mention she has a PhD and is clearly brilliant and seems super nice, but that just makes her more afraid and more aware of any perceived change.

If there’s a takeaway it’s that there is joy in obscurity.

 

And a video about how decent form is more important than challenge-stunts.

Book Review: The Molecule Of More

“How A Single Chemical In Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, And Creativity – And Will Determine The Fate Of The Human Race”

Hyperbolic, gentlemen. I say gentlemen because this book is written by Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD & Michael E. Long.

And it doesn’t say it’s about dopamine at all but… it’s about dopamine. That’s the single chemical we’re talking about.

Overall I found the book interesting with some filler and some big hypothetical stretches, I don’t think it’s a must-read, but let’s dive into my specific book marks that I found fascinating.

p.17 has an example of a highly dopaminergic person who’d excitedly plan a trip to Rome, scheduling out every day and loving it. Then when he’s at the museum he’s not really enjoying it because he’s thinking about dinner, and at dinner he’s thinking about the next thing on the schedule and the next thing and he’s not totally present and enjoying any of it.

I fall into that trap sometimes, living one step ahead of myself and missing the fullness of what’s going on around me. You just have to be conscious of it. The book doesn’t say that, the book doesn’t actually offer anything if you identify with an unfortunate example.

On p.64 we talk about why this dopaminergic thrill of planning exists. Because it helps us maximize our resources in the future. People who plan should end up with greater access to food and mats so of course evolution would select for high-dopamine, planning type people.

p.68 This one’s about dopamine and willingness to put in effort. If you artificially lower the dopamine of starved rats they will do barely enough work to feed themselves, compared to the control rats who work hard, overfeed, and store food after being starved.

Furthermore, if you give the same groups of rats a choice between working for some good food or not-working for bland food the low dopamine rats will settle every time.

Drawing the conclusion that willingness to work hard isn’t about virtue or laziness, it’s just chemicals. No dopamine, no motivation. So instead of preaching at people about will power we should, as always, ask them to check if their neurotransmitters are in order first.

p.76 Affiliative and Agentic relationships. The book casts Afflitiative relationships as mere friendship, they kind were you just hang. Marinate in each other’s company as Kevin T. Porter says. And Agentic relationships are where the relationship has a purpose like, say, you and your literary agent, where each person has a need and goal to be fulfilled by the other.

But this touches on something I’d been thinking about anyway in that friendships are purpose-driven too. There are people I know who hang out with people they don’t enjoy being around and when pressed to not hang out with that person they say but we’re friends.

Isn’t the point of friendship though that you enjoy the other person’s company? Like, you went out to have fun and one person ruined the fun aren’t they then bad at friendship? There’s a lot of cultural talk about toxic people and emotional labour and I think it’s because people don’t realize that as adults you can choose your friends. We’re raised in a model where you made friends at school because you were thrust together, your classmates and your friend’s friends were unavoidable. So those would be truly affiliative as I’m concerned, everything after that though, when you can choose who you want to be friends with, is agentic in a way. It has a purpose it either achieves or doesn’t.

And while saying that all friendships are goal-driven might seem like me being cold and logical and missing the true value of friendship in a My-Little-Pony-kind-of-way, I think it acknowledges that the purpose of friendship is to feel good about oneself and others, to me that’s practical self-care and acknowledges the evolutionary value of having friends.

Don’t have mediocre (or worse) friends is my point.

What does this have to do with dopamine, it’s sane to ask. The authors say that agentic relationships, like networking for your career, is dopaminergic while standard friendship is serotonergic (to do with serotonin, the molecule of contentment supposedly). Whereas I imagine your relationship with some you live with or (maybe ironically) work with are the merely affiliative. You don’t have a goal at all times, you fill a lot of silence with sharing, and you just marinate in their company for years to the point you sometimes only know you like them when they been gone. Modern friendships are a series of difficult to organize and frequently cancelled play-dates to consume together – be it food, alcohol, or a movie. It’s all planning, hoping, liking, rewarding. That’s dopamine.

That was quite the rant, I’ll call that part one. Stay tuned.

Don’t Fall Into The Reward Trap

One of the biggest yet hardest traps to see in one’s fitness journey is the self-reward.

You worked out, hurray, you’re so pleased with yourself – and plus you’ve made room on the caloric budget of it – so you go ahead and have a soda, feeling good about it.

I’m falling into that bad again myself these days. I have a lot of free time in the afternoon after I’ve run all my miles in the morning. What started as eating indulgent food as a little celebration turned into joyless habit pretty quick and bam, I was insidiously back on the standard garbage diet.

For one, we do need to eat, so the work-around for that is planning what you eat long before you’re hungry. When we’re hungry our bodies start urging us toward the most energy dense foods available. So – as I’m going to say in another post I’m working on – Don’t Let Yourself Get Too Hungry.

Part two of that is basing your meals on nutritional needs rather than your sense of caloric need, at least to start with. Meaning, I know I need 3 eggs in a day for choline, I need pumpkins seeds for magnesium, I need beet juice for nitric oxide, etc etc etc. I choose the foods in the house based on filling some nutritional requirement rather simply liking them. And if I’ve had all the healthy stuff I know I need everyday and I’m still hungry I’ll have an indulgent snack. With all the bases covered it’s at least enough food that you won’t over do it.

Controversial opinion – meaning I don’t know where I stand on this really – I think having a treat in the house is a good idea. I’ve found that with nothing sweet in the house I end up buying snacks on the way home. Which means I’m buying them while hungry which is bad and they’re not budgeted for, meaning I’m wasting money. Having cookies in the house may be a good way of telling yourself there’s no need to pick something up while you’re out and once you’re home it’s easier to say you’ll have the cookies after all other nutritional bases are covered.

This is based on the fact that knowledge of beer in the fridge at home was one of the few things that could ease the craving to stay for pints after work back in that day.

And speaking of, don’t reward yourself with booze.

What I think is important is don’t reward yourself at all. The work out was the reward, the health is the reward, practice sitting with those feelings and being okay. The idea that when you feel good you have to consume something in order to heighten it is never going to help you. It’s going to leave you forever chasing.

The best thing you can do is take that celebratory instinct and turn it into motivation. Feel great after a work out? Clean the house. And I know it’s tough when you’re feeling up to do a thing that seems so down but if you can create momentum, striking while the iron is hot so to speak, then you’ll strongly ingrain good habits.

Because the other trap I’m falling into right now is the idea that I’ve done enough for the day. I come home from the gym by 10 in the morning and for some reason the work part of my brain will not activate. Like my work-relax balance is supposed to be set at 4 hours to 12 hours.

This is shifting away from the purpose of the post so maybe I’ll pick it up next time but I notice that the downside of being a morning person is that morning doesn’t really last long. There’s some mental window that closes for me at, like, 11am and suddenly I have inertia to anything I should do.

I’ll explore that further another time, for today remember to be careful how you reward yourself. Is it thinking you’ve earned hours of junk food and video games with minutes of exercise or is it embracing the inner feeling of being a badass?

Videos I Liked This Week

Food Knowledge bitches, get your kiwis

 

I’m a big proponent of getting up early, I get soooo much done getting up at 5:30 and if I need to nap later no problem but if I just sleep til 8ish I get nothing done all day.

 

The official marathon video. And oooh is that my tattooed arm warming up at the start line?

No, it isn’t.

 

And this video, I know basically nothing about the band As I Lay Dying but I was moved by this video about the singer’s release from jail and the perspective shift he went through along with his bandmates reflections on how one person’s toxic behaviour ripples through the people around them and stays destructive for years.

Time To Start Prepping For The Spartan Race

I’m signed up for a Spartan 5k August 10th. I’m nervous.

Mostly because it’s going to destroy my clothes and I don’t have any other running gear nor money for such a thing. I’ll wear my old, ill-fitting shoes and my old swim trunks I guess.

I need to bring a plastic bag to put my muddy kit in after the race.

Of course I’m also nervous because when you see video of the Spartan Race the obstacles look nutso – spear-throwing and carrying buckets of cement and whatnot.

Hmm, not much else to say… for the amount of anxiety I feel there’s usually a lot more to write about.

The nice thing is though I don’t care about my time or anything like that, it’s just for fun. I don’t even find it weird that I want to crawl through mud under barbed wire for fun.