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A Squirt of Dopamine


A Squirt of Dopamine

For time:

30 GHD sit-ups

225 pound Deadlift, 30 reps

30 Double-unders

95 pound Overhead squat, 30 reps

30 Pull-ups

Do you check your phone for texts and emails immediately before and after a workout? Post to comments.

A Squirt of Dopamine.

Last week’s issue of The Week featured a cover story titled “Technology: Is it Making Addicts of Us All?”  The article highlights the psychological impacts of our obsession with technology including cell phones, computers, the internet, texts, and emails.  The details are scary:

“Research shows that constant use of these devices is actually rewiring the physical structure of people’s brains. Every time your phone, tablet, or computer pings with a new text, tweet, or email, it triggers a sense of expectation, and the reward centers in your brain receive a pleasurable “squirt of dopamine.” Over time, a brain habituated to these quick fixes shrinks the structures used for concentration, empathy, and impulse control, while growing new neurons receptive to speedy processing and instant gratification.”  (The Week, August 2)

After thinking through a typical day I was shocked at how frequently my cell phone derails my day because of a text or email I see at a time I don’t need to be checking my device.  Why do I feel the need to check my device immediately before the start and at the end of every event, meeting, class, or workout in my day?!  Answering emails while I brush my teeth?  Lame.  Texting someone back while I’m warming up to workout?  Dumb.

This morning I got up at 5:45am with my family to go on a 12-mile hike up to Dick’s Pass in Desolation Wilderness.  Mom, Dad, my brother, Eric, me, and four cell phones piled into the car.  On the way there it occurred to me that I had royally messed up payroll.  Freaking out on the drive there I contemplated skipping the hike, taking my cell phone, or going back to our cabin to get my computer.  In the end I broke down and called my sister-in-law hoping she could help me out, which she did (thanks Stef).

Feeling the need to make sure it was all ok I thought about taking my cell phone with me.  And that’s where I drew the line and turned off my phone and left it in the car.  Sure, I could take some great Instagram pictures, sure I could get a text from Stef saying everything was ok, but that’s not how today was supposed to be.

CrossFit was never supposed to be about instant gratification.  In a small comforting way, at the very least, we know that every hour we spend at CrossFit is helping to counter those “neurons receptive to speedy processing and instant gratification.”

11 Responses

  1. Blaine

    I have Roots bookmarked on my phone. I check for website updates and see what the WOD is before I get out of bed. I also check my phone about every 10 minutes whether it buzzes or not, just in case I missed something.

    1. Stacey Mandel

      He got his technique from me, no doubt. Although I told him to smile, and well….you can see how well he listened.

      1. Stacey, my buddy “Salim” has been privately coaching me on this lift…..shhhhhh, don’t tell Ryan I’ve been “cheating” on him whilst taking Oly Foundations…..
        Your pal CAL

  2. Screen sucking, esp late at night, has occasionally been the bane of a sleep deprived existence at various points in my life. Totally agree with Nicole re: leaving cell phone in car when hiking (though as a relative newbie to this region, I DO enjoy sharing awesomesauce photos with my family and friends back East…to entice visitors!). My bottom line is while high tech can enable high touch, it will NEVER replace good old fashioned face-to-face, up close and PERSONAL interaction (e.g. enjoying the camaraderie of a sweet, sweaty sucktacular WOD) in my book!
    P.S. Yes, I do check for texts, emails right after a wod, because one never knows when THE job interview request is going to arrive!

  3. The hours I spend at Roots are my only time ‘disconnected’. It has been doubly beneficial in the battle against an instant gratification lifestyle.

  4. Two things I love about Roots is that it keeps me away from my phone and away from thoughts about work. One year ago when I joined I said it was because I wanted something other than work to kick my butt and that is thankfully what I got!