The Essential & The Exciting.

Tips for living with Reward Deficiency Syndrome.

I have been living in recovery from Reward Deficiency Syndrome for fourteen years. In 2008, I started liftings weights, interval training, and cutting sugar.

Four weeks after I made these changes to my health practice, I discovered that I wasn’t just getting leaner and stronger, I was acquiring a new sense of self mastery that I had never felt before.

My before and after Photos. Description of image: Side by side photos of a woman.
Catherine Gordon in the Fall of 2023:

I wasn’t just content with less food and no snacks, I was more willing to do the things that mattered to me, like setting goals and taking action on my career and education.

Reward Deficiency Syndrome, which is a genetic adaptation that affects the individual’s response to dopamine, used to make it hard for me to do the little tasks of daily living that add up to a happier life.

Putting things away, making the bed in the morning, paying bills as soon as they arrived, cleaning house on a schedule, these were the kind of tasks that just didn’t interest me enough to get me to take action.

The consequences of inaction had to get serious in order to make me get the work done. I excelled once I was forced to by the need to stay out of trouble. That’s what I mean by essential: anything I need to do to stay safe eventually got done.

I also excelled at things that were exciting. I have always loved arts, athletics, and animals. Of course, when it came to arts and athletics, I only wanted to do the things I was already good at, but I was willing to put in consistent effort if I learned that the rewards were big enough: like ribbons, trophies, and more parts to play.

This year, I have accepted the connection between eating, training, and living with integrity. When I drop sugar and lift weights, everything in my life gets easier because that gives me the insulin and dopamine sensitivity I need to feel good and stay motivated.

I have to eat and train right in order to sing and dance, so every day I am able to cook and train with those exciting activities in mind. I also accept, after decades of trying to make a living in a more conventional way, that arts and athletics offer the rewards I need to keep me putting in the effort that generates income through roles and views.

Here is an excellent article you can read to understand Reward Deficiency Syndrome:

I am going to keep on singing, shuffling, and training. I hope you find the activities that exhilarate you too.


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