Happy (early) Thanksgiving to all those in the U.S. popping in on this blog. Hope everyone is looking forward to time with family and having copious amounts of food to their satisfaction.
Despite the post to this title I know it won't be related to actual food. I know everyone has metric TONS of food on their brain with the holiday coming up. I think this will still be something to sink your teeth into so continue forward. This will probably something more science like than you might be use to from me, I think it'll be worth the read.
This week I am just wrapping up Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last. First off if you haven’t read his book Start With Why (or listened to it on Audible like me) …what in the heck are you doing with your life? OK only half kidding, seriously go read that thing, I'm probably the 20th coach I know to say recommend it so do it already.
Back to what I was talking about before, in Leaders Eat Last, Sinek talks about the chemical reactions that occur in our bodies and the types of people (leaders) that tend to bring those about certain ones. More or less depends on if you’re a complete dirtbag (Neutron Jack anyone?) or someone with a soul.
Oxytocin is one of these chemicals he talks at length about and for good reason. This guy is often spoken about when it comes to a mother and bonding with their child. If you’ve ever read either of Sinek’s books, you would understand why he really tries to shine the light on this guy nice a bright.
A portion of the talk about oxytocin is comparing it to it’s not so great chemical cousin dopamine. Dopamine, according to the University of Texas Addiction Science and Research and Education Center, is a chemical highly linked to addictions. With that it’s pretty clear why Sinek advises us to keep this guy at arm’s length as much as possible.
Sinek gives basic examples of when dopamine is released like; when you have a new text message, you hit the high score on Angry Birds, drinking coffee (YES ALL OF YOU…including me) and hitting your monthly bonus at work.
For an example of how/when oxytocin kicks in I’ve provided an example from the book:
He was walking along the street and noticed someone’s bag open with some of its contents likely to fall out soon. He tapped the person and said “Excuse me your bag is open.”
The person with the bag had a look and sure enough he was right. They zipped up the bag and smiled saying “Thank you”.
He himself smiled to the person and said “You’re welcome.” Now everyone is all happy, because not just these 2 felt the chemical release, people that saw this act felt it as well.
Hopefully you’ve started to do the math of where this stuff relates to the fitness world. I’ll start with the easy one, dopamine. Since we live in, what I believe is, a heavily dopamine driven world we seek those brief “Ooo Pretty” feelings.
For example, have you noticed how much those silly calorie tracker watches/wristbands have gone up in the last 5 years, and they’re getting fancier. While wearing one of those you hit your “steps” or “calories”, it dings and lights up. There’s Mr. Dopamine right there hitting you. Even something as simple as stepping on the scale and you see you’re down a few lbs from last week, boom dopamine.
Let me clarify that I’m not saying this is ALL bad. I like me some dopamine too, beer, coffee…have I mentioned I LOVE video games in my free time (what’s that?). The key here, like many things is that magic thing called MODERATION. Dopamine kept to a reasonably low level absolutely makes things a little better and can help us get where we want to go in life.
On the flip side let’s look at oxytocin, which is likely obvious how it relates to this field as well. As a coach (trainer) we want to help people feel healthier, move better, and gain confidence in themselves. When a client comes in raving about how they feel and others are hearing about it from them. We feel good about putting the time and effort into them, as well they feel good about all that they did for themselves. Everyone in the room gets that happy release of oxytocin and bam it almost becomes contagious (one more point in favor of semi-private and group training).
Yes, there are downsides to too much oxytocin so it too should be moderated. I would still argue that we could probably flip balance of the two chemicals and things might just be a little bit better for everyone.
Let me make this really clear, I'm not saying we need to ditch those smart watches (mostly) or that you need to knock off your caffeine and beer intake. I'm certainly not advocating for any of those out of my life so I'm not trying to convince you of that either.
What I am saying here is that maybe we can all take a deep breath, step down our dopamine driven behaviors a bit and try to find other ways to get happy chemicals released. This (my) generation is the most distracted generation because we crave that next hit of dopamine. Would it be such a bad idea to try to change that, even just a little?
This might be the most hippie/free spirited type thing you've heard me say, but help someone out once in awhile. Instead getting the chemical release from the next tweet reply or Facebook like, hold the door open for someone, or make sure they don't walk off without their wallet (I know I've gone soft on you all....giggity soft).
In any case anyone looking for a good book to read on leadership, life or just to learn a little bit this is your next purchase one. That's all I got today guys, go out there, get after it and have a safe holiday!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS