Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sugar, A Serotonin Buzz Killer

Feature Entry: Sugar, A Serotonin Buzz Killer

In our last blog the so-called serotonin buzz was linked to the pleasure we brisk walkers receive when the stimulation from hard work triggers the brain to produce increased amounts of the hormone serotonin. The free flowing serotonin stimulates the production of endorphins, drug-like brain chemicals that in turn trigger opioid receptors creating a sensation of happiness.

The careful reader might also recall our fear that sugar might possible be a spoiler in this natural fairy tale. As it turns out, sugar, especially granulated sugar creates the same brain scenario as exercise. Worse, granulated sugar is essentially an “invasive species” to the brain's anatomy and physiology. Not until modern times has sugar been plentiful enough and affordable enough to be an abundant staple of our diet.

Have there been unintended consequences to the invasion? Yes, biochemists report that granulated sugar creates an artificial increase in serotonin in a way that causes the body to “down-regulate” its natural production and release of serotonin. Since serotonin is responsible for controlling mood and appetite, without serotonin a person becomes depressed. As if a person’s self is independent of his/her brain, a SOS is sent to the brain for help. The brain, now lazy in terms of serotonin production, responds back, “Give me sugar!” Self pops in a candy bar and swigs down a cola, and eureka, everyone is happy.

Unfortunately for those wishing to maintain a healthy BMI (body mass index), the unconscious dialogue between self and brain forges an emotional bond between happiness and sugar. Some become “serotonin addicts” and develop a dependency on an ever increasing level of serotonin in order to gain tranquility even at the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and socially unacceptable weight gain.

Is there an antidote? Yes, return to the basics. Retrain your brain to secrete serotonin using what nature intended—aerobic exercise which includes walking and other forms of aerobic exercise. Remember the MoneyWalker’s five keys to weight loss and weight loss maintenance:
Weight every day
Eat a high fiber breakfast (no orange juice)
Walk 45 minutes or more a day
Practice portion control (eat smaller amounts), and
Journal what you eat


Journal Entry

Today’s weight = 173.0

Money Finds since last entry = $5.77 over four walks for $1.44 average.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Calisthenical Walking: Achieving a Serotonin Buzz Naturally

Photo by Joe McGorty as depicted in a blog by

Feature Entry: Calisthenical Walking: Achieving a Serotonin Buzz Naturally

The MoneyWalker is having a great time reading Ammon Shea’s Reading the OED, one man, one year, 21,730 pages. Shea selects interesting words for brief comments. His selected word calisthenical is simply defined as “addicted to exercise.” Calisthenical walking is the second entry from Shea’s book.

Calisthenical walking can be likened to the so-called runner’s high or to achieving a “serotonin buzz.” Serotonin is the workhorse of a constellation of brain processes commonly known as the pleasure response. The short lesson--exercises such as running, jogging, and brisk walking trigger the secretion of serotonin which results in a feeling of euphoria.

now for the bad new, did someone whisper the word sugar? Yikes, could it be that sugar also stimulates the creation of a serotonin buzz? More about the interloper tomorrow?


Found Money Update since last post = $36.23 over 16 walks for average of $2.26 per walk

Average weight over the 16 walks = 173.3 lbs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Take a Walk and Simplify Your Life

Photo by Travelzine

Feature Entry: Take a Walk and Simplify Your Life

The first week of August is “Simplify Your Life Week.” Sometimes we aggravate our stress level by making things too complicated. The MoneyWalker is feeling too much stress because of all the junk in his basement. It is time for his semi-annual Friendship House Charity Garage Sale. Simplify, get rid of that junk.

When I’m overstressed, my coping behavior is weak. Stress causes me to as Anita Brookner says, “waste my emotional energy.” It seems that we humans are always trying to shape our emotional energy with money and the things it buys. I have a closet full of clothes but now I want a new sport jacket.

There can be negative consequences when we attempt to manage our emotional energy with money. Moreover, with the current national debt crises, making needless purchases can greatly add to our stress rather than reduce it.

What can we do to simplify a strategy to better manage our emotional energy? Eat rich foods? Take expensive vacations? Self medicate with pills and alcohol? Not if we want to simplify our life. The correct answer in a word—walk! Simplify--who needs those expensive fitness club fees and the over-hyped pageantry and pretense of the gym.

Journal Entry:

Today’s weight = 174.8

Money finds since last entry = $13.60, $2.27 average per walk.