Living in Excellent Health #19 — Newly Diagnosed with PD, What Do I Do!


People newly diagnosed with the symptoms of Parkinson’s invariably ask, what do I do? Do I take meds or not? If I do take meds, which one[s] do I take? If I don’t take meds, what can I do to slow the progression of the disease?

If you know anything about PD, the diagnosis can frankly be quite frightening. But it’s not a death sentence and there is much you can do.

Even though I take meds, I am not an advocate. I found myself in a situation in late 2018, where I felt I had no choice but to start on meds, but if I had been better informed, and if I had known then what I know now, I would have taken a different approach.

This post applies to those who have chosen not to take medication, as well as, those who have, because even if you are on meds, in order to recover, you will eventually need to get off them.

The question, what do I do, was recently posted on one of the PD Facebook groups, and it received a lot of helpful responses. Clearly there is a lot of experience and learnings people are happy to share.

For me, the single most important thing to do, is minimize stress/worry/anxiety/fear, because this is what causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s and it’s what causes the symptoms to progress. As such, my focus is on minimizing dietary stress, physical stress and mental stress.

In the twenty years I have been living with the symptoms of PD … the first 16 years, medication-free … I’ve learned a lot about how to live effectively with this condition, and I think it boils down to three things:

  1. Eat healthy
  2. Be active
  3. Have fun [be cheerful]

Eat Healthy

In order to slow the progression of the symptoms of PD and recover my health, I learned that I need to restore my body to homeostasis. This means, restoring gut health, srengthening my immune system, unclogging my lymphatic system, eliminating inflammation and alkalining my body. [For more information on this, check this blog post.]

Restoring homeostasis requires a healthy diet. This means, eliminating junk food, fast food, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, while minimizing dairy, processed foods and alcohol. Depending on your preference, you may choose a ketogenic diet, caveman diet, paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian or vegan diet. My preference is the high-fat, ketogenic diet mainly because I can’t tolerate sugar of any kind, including natural fruit sugar.

There is a direct connection between the gut and the brain via the vagus nerve and medical science has demonstrated … although, it is still learning … that gut health directly affects the production and health of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Be Active

I have learned, through direct experience, that exercise is absolutely critical for both my physical and mental well-being. I have developed an extensive exercise program that keeps me active throughout the day, but doesn’t overdo it. I walk, cycle, do jumping-jacks, skipping, foot work, push-ups, stomach crunches, stretching and weight-lifting. I power-walk every day, quite often, twice a day, for a total of 4 to 6 kilometers. I also play golf, kayak, shovel snow and split and stack firewood.

To be living with the symptoms of PD is to be in a continual state of stress, where the body is in a constant state of fight-flight. It is to have a body coursing with cortisol, the fight-flight hormone. One of the purposes of cortisol, is to stimulate us to get moving, so exercise is essential to help us transition from the fight-flight, sympathetic nervous system, cortisol-producing state, to the parasympathetic/calm nervous system state where our bodies are producing dopamine, serotonin and other feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones.

For me, exercise has to be joyful. It has to be fun. I have to be diligent in making sure that while I am exercising, I am doing so joyfully, and that I am not lost in worry or negative thought.

Have Fun

Now you might think I’ve lost my marbles. This would be a legitimate thought. How can we have fun living with the symptoms of Parkinson’s? After all, they’re are in-our-face every moment of the day, including while we sleep … and they’re not pleasant.

And yet, having fun is absolutely critical. As I mentioned above, we need to get the brain/body of the sympathetic nervous system state, into the parasympathetic nervous system state, and there is no better way to do that, than to have fun.

I believe I developed the symptoms of PD after a lifetime of living in fear, stress and worry. Yes, there were other factors … excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, emotional trauma and head injuries … but living in a constant state of fear was the primary factor. I wasn’t living joyfully.

PD in my view is a fascinating condition. It is caused primarily by fear/worry and it feeds off itself by causing fear/worry. The best way to break this cycle is to have fun. It is to be joyful, optimistic, calm, excited and euphoric as much as possible. For me, this has sometimes meant, faking it until I make it. It is not always easy, as I’m sure you know, to be joyful. This condition can be very trying. It has helped me immensely, that I believe wholeheartedly, that I can and will recover my health. It has also helped me to immerse myself in spiritual practice: to live in the present moment and to know that everything has a purpose. And it has helped me to be a student of this condition … to let PD be my teacher … and one of the things it has taught me, is to have fun!

May you live in harmony with the flow of life!

Living in Excellent Health #18 — Amplify Excitement and Gratitude!


When we are experiencing the symptoms of PD, our bodies are in a continuous state of fight-flight-freeze. This occurs because our minds have been in a state of stress/fear for so long that our brains are no longer producing dopamine at normal levels. Instead, our kidneys are continually producing cortisol … the stress hormone.

In order to overcome this, we need to convince our bodies that we are not in any danger by replacing worriful thoughts with thoughts and actions of excitement, joy and gratitude.

Dr Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University, advocates stimulating the release of dopamine through setting and achieving goals. He says that dopamine is released when we move towards, achieve and celebrate the achievement of goals.

Our challenge is, that because our bodies are continually flooded with cortisol, our minds believe we’re in danger, so we continue to have fearful thoughts which, in turn, keeps us in a state of fear, perpetuating the symptoms we experience.

I noticed that even though I was doing a lot of goal-setting exercises, I was still spending a lot of time worrying, which has been keeping me mired in PD symptoms. I’ve even caught myself worrying while practicing qigong.

To break this cycle, I realized recently that I need to do more than just give myself challenges/goals to achieve. I need to be a 24-hour-a-day cheerleader. I need to convince my body every single moment of the day that it is not in danger. I need to continuously cheer myself on, clap my hands, hoot-and-holler, smile, express gratitude and have fun. So I constantly yell woo-hoo and alright and fantastic and yipee and so on.

I’m sure I’m driving Mari nuts, but I look at it this way, I would rather look like I’ve lost my marbles than live in a continuous state of fear and PD symptoms.

And I’ve begun to notice a difference. I’m walking more fluidly with less freezing.

Neuoscience has shown that the brain is neuroplastic, which means it can heal itself. It can create new neurons, synapses and neural pathways, including those that are involved in the production of dopamine. I am determined to make this happen … joyfully, of course!


Living in Excellent Health #17 — More Dopamine Stimulation Challenges!


Since discovering the work of Dr Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University in California, I have been focused on stimulating the release of dopamine through various challenges. Huberman is an advocate of stimulating the release of neurotransmitters and hormones through specific behaviors. [See my previous posts on this topic.]

According to Huberman, dopamine, which is produced in the substantia nigra portion of the mid-brain, is the excitement neurotransmitter. It is associated with movement, motivation, reward, excitement and celebration. It is dopamine that motivates us to achieve goals and it is dopamine that is released when we move towards and achieve a goal. The bigger and more meaningful the goal, the more we are motivated, the more excited we get and the more dopamine is released.

Neuroscience has shown that the brain is neuroplastic, which means it can repair itself. It is my contention that we can restore our brain’s ability to produce dopamine naturally by continually challenging ourselves and celebrating our successes.

I give myself goals throughout the day. Goals such as, walking across the room with a full stride, performing certain tasks while off meds or completing every activity on my daily regimen. Recently, I gave myself a series of weekly push-ups goals, which I successully completed.

This week, I decided to start challenging myself with a new series of exercise related targets, including:

  1. 40 push-ups [at present, I can do 30 push-ups]
  2. 25 stomach crunches
  3. 50 jumping jacks
  4. 20 dumbbell presses with 15 pound weights
  5. 50 knee raises [with each leg]
  6. 15 stair runs
  7. Standing on one foot for one minute
  8. Standing unaided with eyes closed for two minutes
  9. Doing the splits with my feet 13 floor slats apart

I already do these exercises on a regular basis and they all have different starting points.

I plan to do certain exercises on alternating days. For instance, I will do push-ups, jumping jacks, knee raises and standing on one foot, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I will do the remaining exercises on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

To make these exercises more challenging, I am doing them while off-meds. I am not giving myself a timeframe in which to complete each of them. If it takes a few weeks or a few months, so be it.

As I achieve each goal, I will decide if I want to give myself a new target. For example, I would love to do 50 push-ups. [I haven’t done 50 consecutive push-ups since my Black Belt test and that was 26 years ago.] That for me would be a very meaningful goal.

I hope you will join me with your own exercise challenges.

May all of your beliefs be beneficial.

Living in Excellent Health #16 — Personality Change!

Joe Dispenza, neuroscientist, chiropractor and author of You are the Placebo, says that in order to recover from a chronic illness and live in excellent health we must change our personality. He says that we can’t be the same person who developed the illness. He also says this is the single most important thing we need to do.

This makes perfect sense!

Our personality is developed from a combination of genes [DNA], the culture we were raised in and the beliefs we developed from our early childhood experiences. For example, if we were raised with a lot of criticism, we might develop the belief that we are inadequate, and thus, we may become a people-pleaser, or we may become obsessed with accomplishments or we may ourselves become a criticizer.

When I consider myself, it is evident that a number of personality traits … many of which I can directly attribute to my upbringing … contributed to me developing the symptoms I am presently experiencing. I was a worrier, impatient, impulsive, immature, a people-pleaser, prone to anger, self-pity, self-doubt, self-consciousness and self-loathing, fearful, easily-flustered, with an extremely busy mind, among others.

These are traits I am more than happy to let go!

In order to change our nature, Dispenza suggests we emulate the personality traits of someone we admire. For me, this is an easy choice! Nelson Mandela!

Nelson Mandela, or as he was known by his clan name, Madiba, rose from humble beginnings to become the President of South Africa, after spending 27 years in prison as a political prisoner of the then white minority apartheid government. He was in so many ways, the person I most admire. He was self-assured, unintimidated, fearless, visionary, poised, defiant, mature, decisive, outspoken, courageous, honorable, forgiving, elegant, focused, peaceful, cheerful, optimistic and strong-spirited. He had a magnetic personality! And despite the hardship of prison and being separated from his family, he lived to be 95 years old! It’s astonishing!

I think it’s safe to say that Nelson Mandela’s body would never have developed the symptoms of PD because he didn’t have the temperament to do so.

So, how does one go about changing their personality?

For me, it begins with mindfulness. That is to say, being aware of when my thoughts and behaviors are not in alignment with the personality traits I aspire to emulate. This takes practice and diligence because it’s quite easy to slip into a detrimental thought pattern. It also means being aware of when the universe is working on my behalf. For example, if poise, patience and trust are qualities I would like to emulate, then the universe will create opportunities for me to develop this … which it did recently when the starter on my truck broke down at the waste transfer station on my way to town. I had to ask for help … which unfortunately, didn’t work out … before calling for a tow truck to tow me to the repair shop. It also gave me an opportunity to express gratitude for the tax return I just received which I used to pay for the tow and repair.

I made a list of the personality traits I would like to manifest. I keep it with me and refer to it often. I imagine myself in situations where having these traits would be to my benefit.

I also like to do energy work. We live in a universe of pure energy and at the core of our being, we are nothing more than formless bundles of energy. As such, I have found energy work … mostly in the form of expressing intention … to be very effective!

To help transform my personality, I am using two techniques:

  1. Healing stone: I hold a healing stone in my hands [it can be any stone] and repeat the following: I call on my inner-self as well as, Raphael, Michael, Gabrael and Urael [the four archangels] to assist me in giving over to this healing stone, all of the low frequency vibrational energy that is trapped within my energy body, so that it can be transmuted into love, particularly that connected to the thoughts, beliefs and emotions that are not in vibrational harmony and alignment with my intention to transform my personality to be self-assured, unintimidated, trusting, fearless, visionary, poised, mature, patient, decisive, outspoken, honorable, forgiving, elegant, focused, peaceful, cheerful, and strong-spirited in addition to the aspects of my personality which I already hold dearly, including being kind, generous, compassionate, grateful, creative, energetic, optimistic, courageous, conscientious, curious and friendly … and I give thanks for this healing.
  2. Manifesting script: I repeat the following: Wouldn’t it be so nice to have a personality which combines the best qualities of my and Nelson Mandela’s personalities! Wouldn’t it be so nice to be self-assured, unintimidated, poised, etc., in addition to being kind, creative, courageous, friendly, etc! This would be so awesome! I borrowed this technique from the book, Ask and it is Given, by Ester and Jerry Hicks. According to the Hicks, phrasing your intention to manifest in this “Wouldn’t it be nice if,” manner creates, less resistance and a stronger point of attraction, than using the phrase, “I want.”

I also frequently ask myself, what would Madiba do in this situation? For example, if I find myself worrying about something or dwelling on an unpleasant experience from the past, I put myself in his shoes and I let it go because I am certain it is what he would do.

Since embarking on a spiritual journey, I have already changed considerably, particularly in the last five years. I am more calm, forgiving, understanding, empathetic, patient and accepting than I once was. And I am much happier with the person I am now!

May you live in peace, love, joy, abundance and bliss!

Living in Excellent Health #15 — Gut Health!


I recently watched a video with Dr David Perlmutter, an American neurologist who is a prominent advocate for maintaining gut health in order to facilitate brain health. According to Perlmutter, there is a direct connection between gut biome health and the production of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Perlmutter’s assertion in regards to the direct connection between gut biome health and neurotransmitter health, re-enforces the need for those of us experiencing the symptoms of PD to eat healthy foods in order to live in excellent health.

While the medical community is still learning about the microbiome-gut-brain relationship, they do know that the gut is controlled by the Enteric Nervous System, which, like the brain, is made up of millions of neurons, and which is connected directly to the brain via the vagus nerve. Therefore, it is imperative that a healthy diet is part of our regimen to live in excellent health.

Whether your preference is a vegetarian, vegan, ketogenic, mediterranean, paleo or fruit diet, depends on your individual preference, but it is essential to eliminate junk food, fast food, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, while minimizing processed foods, dairy, grains and alcohol, as they adversely affect gut health.

I have had to completely eliminate all forms of sugar [including fresh fruit] and alcohol. because even a small amount will result in me waking up the next morning feeling like I’ve got a bad hangover and worsened symptoms. Apparently, this happens because when you have PD, your body is coursing with cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is an insulin suppressor. {Insulin is the enzyme that breaks down sugar. For this reason, I prefer the ketogenic diet. If you’re interested, check out my post on Diet, as part of the series on the 18 Things I’ve Learned from Living with the Symptoms of PD.

In addition to purifying our diet, it is essential that we eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. These foods are loaded with healthy bacteria. You might also wish to consider a good quality probiotic, but be careful because many of these products actually provide no nutritional value. I have no direct experience with probiotics … I prefer fermented foods … so I’m not able to make any recommendations on the best products.

I have written extensively on the need to restore gut health … along with strengthening the immune system, unclogging lymphatic system, eliminating inflammation and alkalining the body … in order to return the body to homeostasis. But a healthy, probiotic-rich diet goes beyond simply restoring homeostasis. It contributes directly to a healthy brain.

Living in Excellent Health #14 — Push-up Challenge and Weaning off Meds Update!

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I am thrilled to say that I completed Phase 3 of my push-ups challenge. Last week, I did 140 push-ups a day for seven days [160 on the last day], for a total of 1,000 push-ups. It was a worthwhile challenge because it really pushed me, given that I also did yardwork and firewood stacking everyday.

The primary purpose of this challenge was to stimulate the release of dopamine by moving towards and achieving a goal. I don’t know how much dopamine I released, but it felt meaningful.

I would love to hear from you if you undertook your own challenge, regardless of what it was. How did it go and how did you feel about it?

Until I decide on a new challenge … it won’t involve push-ups … I will go back to my regular daily exercise regimen which includes 20 to 50 push-ups a day.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am maintaining my current daily Sinemet dosage for the time being. I am planning a trip south in July to visit my kids and I don’t want to be experiencing any withdrawl sysmtoms when I’m there, particularly given that I am planning to drive myself. After I return from my trip, I will continue weaning off the meds. Presently, I am taking three Sinemet a day: two in the morning before breakfast and one in the afternoon.

During my push-ups challenge last week, I received three meaningful insights which I will blog about separately. Whether they were related to my push-ups challenge is unclear, but the timing was interesting.

My biggest challenge at the moment is dealing with the wear-off rebound effects from the Sinemet I’m taking. This happens twice a day. Freezing is the most challenging symptom. What seems to help the most, is power-walking. Most days, I go for two power-walks. The first one is 2 to 3k and the second one is 1 to 2k. Immersing myself in humor seems to help as well, so I watch Rick Mercer videos before I go for my power-walk.

Wishing you a cheerful day!

Living in Excellent Health #13 — Push-up Challenge and Weaning off Meds Update!

845,208 Determination Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Today, I begin phase 3 of my push-ups challenge. I will be doing 140 per day … 160 on the last day … for seven days, for a total of 1,000 push-ups. I welcome everyone to join me. You don’t have to do 140 push-ups. Pick a number that you are comfortable with, but will challenge you. Our objective is to stimulate the production of dopamine by working towards and accomplishing a meaningful goal.

Last week was a rest week, but on Wednesday, as a special challenge, I did one push-up a minute for 60 minutes. I accomplished the challenge, but I have to admit it wasn’t easy. I did it off-meds, and towards the end, each minute was coming up rather quickly.

I have decided to maintain my Sinemet dosage for the time being. Reducing my dosage from 4.5 tabs a day to 3 has proven to be quite challenging, mainly because I have been worrying too much about too many things. All this worrying has been excaserbating the symptoms I experience, paricularly, freezing, slowness of movement and feeling very unsteady on my feet. I am planning to take a trip next month to visit my children, and it’s a six hour drive, so I want to be feeling my best.

Taking on this push-ups challenge has reminded me of the importance of believing in myself. It is something I have struggled with all of my life and I suspect it has had a lot to do with why I developed the symptoms of PD.

When you truly believe in yourself, you have no fear and you feel no stress. In looking back over my life, it is easy to see where I didn’t believe in myself.

For those who are joining in on the push-ups challenge, good luck and enjoy the dopamine rush!

Living in Excellent Health #12 — Push-up Challenge and Weaning off Meds Update!

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Well, I completed Phase 2 of my push-ups callenge and I’m pleased to say that the push-ups element of this challenge went well. I did 100 push-ups a day for seven days, for a total of 700 push-ups. It was actually a little more challenging than the first go-round … before I injured my ribs … perhaps because I played golf one day and stacked firewood on three days. I think the heat and the difficulty I was experiencing with my ‘off-times’ might also have been a factor.

It seems something triggered an emotional crisis … which I don’t yet fully understand … which caused me to experience severe freezing, unsteadiness and mental fog when off-meds. The only relief I got was from power-walking. It finally seemed to break last night and I’m doing better this morning.

One day this past week, I gave myself another challenge I initially didn’t think I could do. I went kayaking in a strong wind while off-meds. I had a life-jacket on and Mari was with me, so I was safe. We were out for about 45 minutes and I felt great afterwards. I’m sure it triggered a great dopamine release.

I decided not to reduce my Sinemet dosage this week due to the way I was feeling. If all goes well this week, I will reduce my dosage next week. At present, I am taking three Sinemet a day [two at 9am and one at 5pm]. My plan is to eliminate my afternoon dosage before attempting to reduce my morning dosage.

Next week, I plan to complete Phase 3 of my push-ups challenge. I’m going to do 140 push-ups a day for seven days … 160 push-ups on the last day … for a total of 1000 push-ups. Again, everyone is welcome to join me in my endeavor. You don’t have to do 140 push-ups a day. Pick a target that you feel comfortable with. In fact, you don’t even have to do push-ups. It can be any exercise you choose. Remember, the goal is to give ourselves a challenge that we can work towards accomplishing in order to stimulate dopamine release.

Towards that end, on Wednesday June 9, this week, at 2pm EST, I plan to do one push-up a minute for 60 minutes. I invite everyone to join me. Again, you don’t have to do all 60 push-ups and you don’t even have to do push-ups. You can do any exercise you choose: stomach crunches, jumping jacks, knee raises, jab/crosses, etc. The objective is to involve as many people as possible in order to generate a collective energy bump and dopamine release.

Wishing everyone an awesome day!

Living in Excellent Health #11 — Push-up Challenge and Weaning off Meds Update!

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Today I am beginning Phase 2 of my push-ups challenge. I will be doing 100 push-ups a day for seven days. I also expect to be stacking firewood most days.

Yesterday, I learned a valuable lesson relating to challenges. Give yourself a challenge you really don’t think you can accomplish. Mari challenged me to carry two full buckets of water … at the same time … from the house, to where she was planting some raspberry bushes. The distance was 175 yards. I was off-meds and at first said, I couldn’t do it. But she talked me in to it … and I did it! I had to make a couple of rest stops, but I did it. During the challenge, I didn’t think about the weight of the buckets. Instead, I focused on my stride … and this helped immensely. The rush I experienced after I completed the challenge was huge and I felt great for a significant period of time afterwards.

Similarly, one day last week, I had two chords of firewood to stack, so I gave myself the challenge stacking them both that day. For most of the time I was stacking, I was off-meds. At first, I was having a lot of difficulty with my gait and I was experiencing a lot of freezing [not a fun experience when you’re stacking wood], but I kept at it and I kept encouraging myself. Eventually, my gait improved and I started moving more fluidly. When I was done, I really celebrated my accomplishment and for a period of time afterwards, I felt much better.

This is why I want to wean completely off meds. I want to focus on the dopamine stimulation techniques without interference from the wear-off rebound effect from the meds.

Having said that, I’m not going to reduce my Sinemet dosage this week. Instead, I will focus on my push-ups challenge and reduce my dosage next week.

I encourage everyone to join me in my exercise challenge. If you want to do push-ups, great! It doesn’t have to be 100 push-ups a day. It can be whatever amount you feel comfortable with. If you want to do a different exercise challenge, that is okay too. Our objective is to work towards, accomplish and celebrate a meaningful goal in order to stimulate the release of dopamine. We want to neuroplastize and heal our brains.

If you haven’t already read the series of blogs I posted on Andrew Huberman’s techniques for stimulating dopamine release, I encourage you to do so.

In the meantime, have an awesome week and good luck with your exercise challenge!

May you be healthy and content!

Living in Excellent Health #10 — Push-up Challenge and Weaning off Meds Update!

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I resumed my push-ups challenge last week … actually, I started all over again after the four week delay due to a rib injury. I did 70 push-ups a day over seven days [80 on the last day] for a total of 500 push-ups. I am delighted to say it went well. I actually stacked firewood every day and went for daily walks, as well.

I am taking this week off and then next week I plan to do 100 push-ups a day for seven days.

Again, the purpose of this push-ups challenge is to give myself a goal to work towards and achieve in order to stimulate the production and release of dopamine, serotonin and other feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones. The ultimate objective is to neuroplastize the brain by regenerating the dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra. In other words, we want to restore our brain’s normal functioning.

If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to check out the series of blogs I posted on the techniques Dr Andrew Huberman has developed for activating the parasympathetic nervous system in order to stimulate the release of dopamine.

Also, this past Saturday, I resumed weaning off Sinemet. I reduced my daily dosage by 1/4 tablet from 3 1/4 to 3 tablets. So far, I am feeling fine. My goal in weaning off Sinemet is threefold. First, to give myself another goal to work towards and achieve in order to stimulate dopamine production, second, to get off Sinemet in order to focus solely on Huberman’s techniques as a way to stimulate dopamine, and third, to eliminate the very debilitating twice-daily wear-off rebound effect that occurs when the Sinemet wears off each day.

Perhaps the biggest challenge I have faced throughout this push-ups and weaning-off challenge is missing my children and grandchildren. They all live six hours away and I have seen very little of them in the past year and a half due to the Covid restrictions that are in place in our province, as well as the need to restrict my exposure to the virus. I find myself thinking about it constantly and I must admit, it has been causing me a great deal of stress. My challenge really, is to turn this situation around in order to make it work for me, rather than against me. In other words, I need to find a way to use this situation to stimulate dopamine, rather than cortisol, which means I need to give myself a goal to achieve.

Everyone is welcome to join me in my push-ups challenge. Choose a daily target you feel comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with doing push-ups, feel free to pick another exercise challenge. Remember, the goal is to stimulate dopamine production.

Have a great week and I look forward to resuming our exercise challenge next Monday!

May you be healthy and content!