Sticking To New Year Resolutions…. it’s not about willpower

January is a time for setting goals and planning. But follow through takes a lot of energy and motivation. Maybe that’s why, according to Forbes magazine, only about 8% of us are successful at sticking to new year resolutions.

Your ability to stick to those amazing health goals you set might have less to do with will power than you think.   

Neurotransmitters are powerful chemical messengers that drive our mood and behaviour. Click To Tweet

Neurotransmitter are chemical messengers in the body.  Serotonin, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, norepinephrine, along with countless others are the silent “drivers” of our behaviour and mood.  Keeping your neurotransmitters in balance can help you maintain the stamina, energy and motivation you need to carry through on your new years goals. 

Here are a few neurotransmitters to know about, along with tips for sustaining your energy and motivation by keeping them at optimal levels.

Dopamine and norepinephrine

These are known as “get up and go” neurotransmitters.  We need them to keep ourselves motivated, stay focused, and maintain energy.  When they are low we are sluggish in the morning, we feel scattered, overwhelmed, lack drive or motivation, we are more prone to procrastination and indecision and may crave sugar and coffee to keep us going.  If you are low in dopamine or norepinephrine it is VERY unlikely you will get up to go on that morning run.

How to meet your needs: The amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine, found in dietary protein, are needed to create norephinephrine and dopamine.  Meat, fish, lamb, chicken, spinach, kidney beans, soy, seaweed, eggs, sesame and some cheeses are food sources of these amino acids. 


Serotonin is known as our “feel good” hormone.  If it is low we might feel anxious, irritable, negative, self critical, angry, depressed and have trouble sleeping.  If we are low in Serotonin, we are likely to give up on our goals before we even start, finding the whole idea too overwhelming. 

How to meet your needs: The amino acid tryptophan is important for making serotonin.  Foods sources of tryptophan include turkey, red meat, cheese, nuts, seeds, tofu, oats, lentils, and eggs.

GABA (gamma-butyric acid)

GABA is one of our calming neurotransmitters.  Low GABA is associated with feelings of tense anxiety and overwhelm and feeling overly stressed and burned out.  If you are low in GABA, you likely lack motivation and would rather relax with a glass of wine than focus on your health goals. 

How to meet your needs: The best way to raise GABA levels is by using a sublingual supplement.  If it is going to work for you, you will notice a difference within a few days of taking it.

When neurotransmitters are out of balance, mood and energy suffer. Click To Tweet

These are only a few of the dozens of neurotransmitters which, when out of balance, affect your mood and energy.   You have important health goals to follow through on this year.  Support your body and mind by focusing on quality, dietary protein, digestion, detoxification, whole, nutrient dense foods and blood sugar stability to allow your neurotransmitters to work in your favour rather than hinder your progress.   

If you’ve tried all you can think of and you still lack motivation and energy contact me for  a dietary assessment and let’s get you back on track.  It’s time to feel good.

1 Comment

  • kim Harkness

    Reply Reply January 7, 2016

    Thank you Jess! As always your wisdom comes right when I need it. Have been working hard at bringing exercise and vitamins into my daily or bi-daily routine but thinking about foods on this metalevel risky too.

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