Why Do I Have Low Motivation – Functional Medicine Solutions | Podcast #358
Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is what causes you to act, whether getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge.
In this video, Dr. J and Evan Brand talk about the physiological issues behind your decreasing motivation and the functional medicine strategies, hormones, and lifestyle changes you need to do to improve your mood and overall health function.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In this episode, we cover:
1:41 What are the root causes of low motivation?
4:14 The physiological explanation of low motivation
8:39 Functional medicine strategies to improve motivation
10:53 The role of thyroid function to your body’s overall function
16:38 Lifestyle upgrade to boost your motivation
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We are going to be talking about motivation. Really excited to have a nice podcast on this topic. Evan, how we doing today this morning?
Evan Brand: I’m doing really well. I’m feeling really motivated. Hence, this topic on motivation. You know, I look around on society and I just see the way that people carry themselves. You know, we’ve become so casual in terms of dress. I mean, when you see people that are just coming out at restaurants, they’re wearing Crocs and sweatpants and, you know, hoodies. People just don’t appear to take good care of themselves, in general. And maybe that’s different in other cities but even talking to people when I bought a sports coat. I talked to the guy at the suit store, and he agreed with me that over the last 20 years, people just become so casual. And with that casual dress, I think that changes people’s level of motivation. When I’m in sweatpants and a hoodie, I feel less motivated, and less ready to charge the world as opposed to when I have on even something like a polo. I think, maybe that’s part of it, but I know there’s a lot of chemical, neurotransmitter, and gut reactions, you know, better involved too. So, what do you think, I mean, am I, am I onto something with the clothing? Have you seen a change even in your lifetime with people?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, I think people like, I talked to a lot of patients and friends and like, ‘oh you get to work at home and see patients all over the world. That’s awesome, that must be so easy to just kind of get up and get ready’. I’m like, well I still shower and kind of get ready like I’m going to the office anyway, I wanna look good, I wanna feel good, I wanna feel clean, I wanna feel fresh, plus I wanna be able to jump on a video or see a patient, I wanna have a higher level of professionalism on how I look. So, I do think there’s energy just like you said, in just that look in the park, dress in the park feeling good, right? I think that all helps. I think it moves the needle. That makes sense.
Evan Brand: Well, let’s see some of the root causes of that. I mean, low motivation, in general, the first thing that I think of and maybe your average listeners thinking of, they listen to us for a while, they’re gonna think of dopamine. And that certainly one potential cause and we can measure that using urine organic acids testing. So, we’ll look at the markers for dopamine on that test that we can see, and I would say that 90% of people I test are pretty low and the other 10% are people that have Clostridia bacterial overgrowth. You and I have talked about this before, we did a whole show of Clostridia, I believe, but the mechanism is that if you have Clostridia which is a certain type of bacteria in the gut that will actually inhibit the enzyme dopamine beta hydroxylase and then you have this build up of dopamine. So, you have some of these mood issues that’ll happen because of your gut. So, if you fix your gut, that high dopamine markers normalize. But otherwise, I see, generally, pretty low dopamine and maybe you and I can kind of break down why is that happening. I think chronic stress is a big one. But I wonder if there’s a role of like excess caffeine, have you seen anything look like too much coffee, your stimulants depleting dopamine, what about drugs like the Adderall drugs, that kind of stuff.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I think we’ve, with motivation, it’s a couple things right. We have kind of the psychological kind of mindset aspect, I think that’s really important. So, I think number one, you gotta enjoy what you’re doing or you have at least kind of know what your talents or your skills that you’re at. So, you can work on doing things that one you enjoy and two you are actually good at. So, you can perform at a higher level, right? I think it’s a combination of those two things. And I think, also, there’s some people that what if you’re not good at things, right, so I think early on if you’re younger and you’re listening to this as you grow up, you really wanna look at developing talents. tacks and skills set. And you really wanna look at the marketplace and say, ‘where, um, where’s your gaps in the marketplace in regards to skill, whether on the health side or on the tacks side or on engineering. We really wanna look at where you kind of plug yourself into the marketplace, whether there are opportunities and then it’s also good to evaluate your kind of natural talents and skill sets. You kind of look at, you know, what people tell, I’ve always told you good at. There’s different tests out there whether it’s a Myers-Brigg personality test or, uh, I think another test out there called DISC, D-I-S-C test. There’s different tests out there that kind of help you understand, kind where your natural talents are at and then also just really observing and being aware of what you really enjoy doing. Usually, things that you enjoy doing, tend to be better at it because you don’t mind working harder at it. I think those are important, so then when you start doing things, you’ll really enjoy it. Now, on the physiological side, chronic stress well either acutely raises cortisol all over time. That cortisol can become lower which can affect energy and mood and cause your body to break down faster. And of course, that same level of adrenal stress can also lower dopamine, lower adrenaline which can then affect focus and motivation at a biochemical neurological level too. So, I think it’s good to look at both of those, so we can test the adrenal gland and know what’s happening at the adrenal level. We can also look at the neurotransmitters, the organic acid testing and look at various metabolites for Homovanillate, which is a metabolite for dopamine and then Vanilmandelate, which is a metabolite for adrenaline. We can get a window and into both of those metabolites and see how the brain is functioning on the inside.
Evan Brand: Yeah. That’s a great point. People that are just doing stuff that they don’t enjoy, I mean, how are you gonna be motivated for life if you make up, you don’t enjoy it. I talked to a guy who picks up our garbage and he loves it. He loves his job. He loves driving around with a big truck all day and he makes a great money doing it. He’s happy. So, some people are gonna look at that and say, ‘oh, this garbage man, what a terrible life’. And some people, they enjoy it. So, I do think ultimately as they say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I still love what I do but I still, I feel like it’s still work, I mean, I enjoy it but when I’m away for too long on vacation, I don’t enjoy this much. I rather be working, I really do. I love helping people. I’m really addicted to the hustle and grind of helping people feel better. There’s so many people suffering. For you and I, I think, we’re in a good spot-on loving what we do, but then on the brain chemistry side, I would say that I certainly struggle on. I had gut issues, I certainly struggled with low energy, and partly low motivation and low focus and for a period of time I had trouble reading certain books, like my brain, I just couldn’t process. I had to read, read certain phrases or if someone said a phone number to me, I couldn’t remember just a simple 7-digit phone number. So, I definitely had some brain fog associated with gut issues. And on paper, my endorphins and my dopamine were a bit low. So, I think looking at these mechanisms, I would say Candida, something we could mention too because we know Candida produces acetaldehyde, which is kind of similar to an alcohol molecule and so some people are a little bit drunk on their own Candida overgrowth. So, if somebody that has a lot of sugar cravings or if you have a white coated tongue or if you tested positive for Candida on urine, organic acid, stool testing, we gotta fix that Candida because that’s directly gonna impact your mood, your motivation and your focus.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% Now, I work with patients, right? And I look at a lot of the physiological imbalances. So, let’s say there’s hormonal issues, let’s say it’s a female, it’s estrogen dominance, right, lower progesterone, estrogen out of whack, there’ll be a lot of PMS, mood issues, irritability issues. They’re poor energy because of chronic adrenal stress, they’re not digesting their food well. There’s a lot of mitochondrial imbalances, B-vitamins, CoQ10, L-carnitine. You know, it’s hard to be motivated when you have a lot of these physiological imbalances, because it takes fuel to run this system. So, when I look at patients, I get them motivated to fix these things. You know, it’s hard to get someone motivated to just fix their mitochondria or fix their adrenals. So, I always look at, hey what are these health challenges that you’re having right now. What is preventing you from being, doing, or having in your life right now? Like, what do you want to be doing, being you’re having in your life that you’re not able to because of your energy or because of your chronic digestion, because of your, um, mood issues? What is that? I try to get really clear what those things are because if I can figure out, hey, we’ll it’s affecting me for working out whole day, it’s affecting me, um, being able to spend quality time with my kids, then we can lean on, okay we are gonna make these diet changes, so we can help you get back to spending better time with your kids or so we can have you focusing and doing better at work at closing deal, whatever that is. So, if we figure out the why, then we can lean on that why to get people to make the right changes because it’s the really the why is the essence of it. And that really helps to get people motivated. So, there’s the mindset motivation and there’s the physiological biological biochemical side. So, we wanna work on both. So, when I tell people to make these diet changes, not just making these diet changes, we’re gonna do these so we can help move the needle in this area or that area. So, it’s kind of like using psychological tactics that help keep your patient motivated. It’s also important.
Evan Brand: Nice. That’s really a good point. We have some part of our population, where there are just biohacker people who wanna see the numbers, right? They wanna see the numbers get better, and they’re happy enough to see succinic acid go from a 24 down to a 5. And we go okay, great we had major progress, the mitochondria look better on paper. Some of our people, they’re cool with just the numbers, but I agree with you, you gotta bring the emotional piece to. It’s not enough to say, ‘hey, I wanna get your dopamine higher because I want you to have enough energy to get out of bed, make your bed, get dressed, wear something nice, get to the office as you close the deal’. There’s a whole symphony of emotion and the neurotransmitter, the mitochondria, the adrenals, all firing together to make life nice and make life enjoyable. And I just see that the number one leading cause of disability in the U.S. is depression and so, I don’t know, I just feel like there’s so much on top potential, on top productivity out of the population, if we can just simply get the gut improve, get the mitochondria improve, get the neurotransmitter improve. I mean, we could totally transform the country.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I totally agree. I mean, I think simply, out of the gates, it starts with food. So, it starts with high quality food, organic, right, low toxin, eating good proteins, eating good fats. I think being more of a fat burner for most people is super important because we just tend, if you just look at micronutrient trends over the last 56 years, we just consuming more processed carbohydrates and of course the fats are shifted to more, kind of polyunsaturated omega-6 kind of vegetable oil. I think number one out of the gates is we switch to higher quality, better, more stable fats whether it’s on the grass-fed meat, high quality fish or if we do any plants it’s gonna be more on the mannose, right, olive oil, some avocados, those kinds of things. That’s important on the fat and then we try to restrict the lot of the refined grains, refined sugar and that’s some kind of first step and make sure that the quality there. in regards to organic, um, no added hormones, some things like that in the pot. That’s a good start for anyone right there. And then from there, we can look at the different hormonal systems. So, if we have chronically high cortisol, usually that’s more of an acute thing but that can cause anxiety, that can cause irritability. Usually, there’s a tire of wire that kind of thing there. And then of course as we have chronic stress, that adrenal pattern can move more to a lower cortisol stay, and that can cause energy low motivation low mood. So, we wanna really look at the adrenals. They’re part of that stress handling system. So, when we look at things that drive the adrenals its physical, chemical and emotional stress and so we wanna make sure there’s nothing on the emotional side that’s driving a problem, right? Marriage issues, kids issues, financial issues, whatever that is, we have to make sure, we’re at least addressing it and it’s in our forefront, we’re not just kind of putting your head on the sand. Physically we need to make sure we’re not overexercising or under so we’re getting some movement or we’re moving our muscles or we’re not overly sedentary, we’re not doing things that cause us pain, right? So, that’s important. Of the chronically in pain, we see a soft tissue person or a chiropractor to really get to the root of that. And of course, what we really focus on is the underlying hidden chemical stressors, that’s just the food sensitivities, the gut imbalances, the dysbiosis, the leaky gut, the hormonal imbalances, the low thyroid, the adrenal imbalances, the hormonal issues, um, the mitochondrial dysfunction, the toxicity, mold, heavy metals, right? So, this is where we, we come in there, we focus on the chemical stressors that play a major input on the adrenals and we chronically stress the adrenals, adrenaline is also produced by the adrenals to kind of get cortisol mobilize and chronic adrenaline stimulation will pull dopamine because adrenaline is a post cursor essentially to dopamine. So, it goes dopamine 🡪 adrenaline. It’s over chronically sti, in a stressed-out state. Your body will make adrenaline and will pull from dopamine to make adrenaline. And dopamine is important for that I love you feeling, it’s really important for focus, dealing with stress and staying motivated. So, we have to get that, the underlying reason why we pullin’ out that dopamine downstream, we have to get the adrenals fully supported.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Well said. I’m glad you mentioned heavy metals too. I mean, people and their brain issues could simply be related to mercury toxicity. If you’re someone just walking around and you’ve got a mouthful of amalgam fillings, we know those are estimated 50-ish percent mercury give or take and we know that mercury directly affects dopamine. If you simply just type in, mercury and Parkinson’s or mercury and Alzheimer’s. There’s a lot of links to these toxins and brain neurodegenerative issues. So, if you’re somebody who’s just so poor motivation and it’s more on the extreme side, you might get this amount of amalgam out of your mouth. And for my grandfather, he’s pushing 80-years-old, believe it or not, the local, biological then said he’s already having memory issues, it’s too late. The issue of pulling out the mercury could create more problems. He just said, leave it alone. But if you’re 40, 50, 60, 70 maybe you’re still at that age where you can start working at heavy metal detox, maybe you’re using some sort of binder for the meantime but ultimately, you’ve got to remove the source. So, I mean, if you got heavy metal in your mouth, no matter how much chlorella, charcoal, or clay you take, you’ll still get metal on your mouth. So, that could be a huge issue for your motivation and you gotta resolve it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% out of the gates. Also, low thyroid can be a thing. Low thyroid can affect mitochondrial function. It can affect mood. It can affect energy. Obviously, thyroid hormones play a major role in your overall metabolism. And if your metabolism is low and slow or more than likely your motivation would be low. So, it’s really good to look at thyroid function. Now, if you go to your conventional doctor that just gonna look at TSH typically and again if your TSH is overly high, let’s say greater than three and a half four. You know, that’s probably be pretty good sign. There’s probably thyroid issues downstream happening with T4 being on the lower side or T3 being, let’s say, below that 3.0 marker in the United States metric. Um, but again, TSH may still be adequate, let’s say below three and you may still have problems with thyroid hormones downstream, with T4, with T3. Maybe there’s an elevated antibodies because there’s some autoimmunity. It’s kind of like smoldering there. So, you really wanna look at running a full thyroid panel and your conventional medical doctor would typically not do it. So, you gotta reach out to kind of more natural, functional medicine first to do it. So, if you guys want to get that kind of testing done, Evan and I, we all do that testing. So, evanbrand.com, justinhealth.com. There’s links there where you can work with us if you want that type of in-depth testing. But low thyroid can be a deal breaker and it can, in most thyroid issues are autoimmune. So, you have to fix the gut. You have to fix the food. You have to fix all of the digestive issues to really get that usually under control.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Good point bringing up thyroid. So, I’ll bring up another kind of related one which could be anemias, right? If you got low ferritin, for example, you’re gonna be so exhausted if you have some type of anemia that that’s gonna really affect your motivation as well. So, I get kind of annoyed, to be honest with you, when I see people posting these motivational tracks. It is usually some super fit dude, possibly he’s on steroids, he’s flipping a tire and then yelling over the microphone, and it’s like, ‘you gotta get up and you gotta just do it’. And it’s like, you can’t just do it, like, I love that you’re, you know, 28 years old or maybe you’re on growth hormone and you’re flipping this tire and you’re motivated. But that type of talk goes only so far. And from our functional medicine mindset, like I said, I kind of get annoyed, because then you have this woman, maybe 50, 55 and she looks at herself in the mirror and she’s not happy on what she sees. She got insulin resistant, the diet is not dialed in, the guts affected, the neurotransmitters are low, but mitochondria are damaged because she got exposed to, uh, tick bites and molds. This motivational dud ranting over the microphone, he does not have a friggin’ clue about any of these functional strategies. And so, people then think that motivation is just this simple thing that you could just turn on or turn off. If I could just give motivated, I could do this or that. And it’s like, look, it’s way deeper than that, it’s way deeper than this dude just giving you some hoorah jumping the CrossFit class. And that’s why, that’s all this day.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I’m not a big fan of RAW, RAW stuff because it ignores physiology. I mean, I think there’s the RAW, RAW stuff can be helpful if it shifts your mindset. But mindset cannot be overcome physiology in the long run. It’s like people gonna, uh, an Anthony Robbins, I think Tony Robbins is great, he has a lot of strategy mindset stuff but you come out of this event so motivated. And it’s like, now what, right? It’s kind of like you’re driving your car, right, your old, used car, nothing’s wrong with it but your own E. Some guy comes up next to you and in like a Ferrari and it’s like, ‘man, you just got hit the back gas pillar, go’. And it’s like he hits the gas pillar, he’s out of sight and you’re like, ‘yeah, I don’t have fuel in my car and I kind of force cylinder under horsepower car, yeah I can’t do it. So, the first thing you gotta do metaphorically is you have to fill your tank of a gas. Get the car, get the gas in the tanks if you have fuel. And overtime, upgrade your car, upgrade your health, right? And we start with food quality, we start with good fats and proteins, we start with addressing glycemic issues, not overdoing or removing the processed sugar and the grain, dialing in the carbs on what you need, sleeping better. That’s like trading in your car at the car dealership, right? Literally, just by doing that, you’re starting to upgrade internally and of course from there we can always go down the functional medicine path and look at these hormone systems, adrenals, thyroid, gut function, mitochondrial issues. But we can at least upgrade the car and the fuel by making these simple lifestyle choices that are free and then from that, that gives you more motivation, now you have more energy, now your brain is clearer, so now you can, you know, be clearer on what your goals are. You can get very motivated, you can set timelines to your goals, right. What’s the difference between a goal and a dream? A goal has essentially a dream with an endpoint, a timeline on it, right. I’m gonna achieve this point, right? Take your dreams, make it your goal by putting an aid on it and some action items to go on it. And that takes energy and focus. And if your brain is foggy and overly tired, that’s gonna be problematic. So, I think, just work on those simple things and then once you get a little more motivation there then what’s next. And so, the things that I looked at when people are stressed and depleted, brain inflammation plays a major role with low motivation, so if we can cut out the foods, if we can add in B-vitamins, B6, magnesium, good health omega-3 fatty acids, that’s gonna help with the brain inflammation. That’s gonna help with the neurotransmitters. And then from there, we’re gonna look deeper at the box. This could be SIBO, bacterial overgrowth, H. pylori, parasites and getting the gut really cleaned out is gonna help shell out a lot of the brain inflammation because inflammation is bidirectional. Inflammation in the body can make its way to the gut and create a problem. Inflammation in the gut can make its way out of the gut into the bloodstream by leaky gut permeability causing inflammation in the brain.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Well said. We could start to bring in some of those vitamins, like the omegas, we can bring in some phosphatidylserine or phosphatidylcholine, we can bring as you mentioned the B-vitamins, maybe some Ginkgo, possibly nootropics like the racetam family, pretty common phenylpiracetam or others oxiracetam. A lot of nootropics out there that you could use, but there’s so many people like in the that they’re taking these different nootropics but they’re not addressing anything in regards to their gut or anything, whether hormones. So, I think it’s…
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I have a product in my line could, Dopa Replete Plus which has tyrosine and will have an actual pure L-dopa. That’s a good one. Or someone’s coming out of the gates, I would just even just be using pure tyrosine, pure L-tyrosine with some high-quality B-vitamins can be really helpful because you need the B-vitamins as a cofactor to really help convert to some of these neurotransmitters, some of these amino acids to become the actual neurotransmitters.
Evan Brand: Yeah. You can feel it pretty quick. I mean, that’s the cool thing about amino acids, is that you mentioned. A lot of times, you know, when we pitch people our services, we’re like hey, sign up, you know, give us a call evanbrand.com, justinhealth.com. People haven’t, they haven’t enough motivation to be miserable to do that. Sometimes, I don’t even think about people, they know they want to help but I think they haven’t enough motivation to even call us and reach out to us. So, if you’re one of those people, we’re here but, in the meantime, yeah, maybe you use a little bit of tyrosine. It gets you motivated enough to even reach out to get further health because I think a lot of people get overwhelmed at what’s gonna entail in regards to diet changes. Like, oh, that’s overwhelming, you’re gonna make me cut this out, lifestyle changes, you’re gonna make me cut that out, like oh my God or now I gotta go to bed at 9’oclock, you know, that’s too hard. So, we used this little tool, this functional medicine tool to help motivate people to get them through the protocol. Because you and I could design a perfect protocol, mitochondrial support. We’ve got the gut dialed in. We’ve got the detox, the binders. We got the liver, the gallbladder, the adrenals. It’s all taken care of. But, it’s only if somebody follows through so then you get to the part of compliance which we could do part 2 on that of you want. Like, how do you stay on track but making the plan and getting the labs is the first step and getting the people to follow through is the second one. I think progress ultimately gets people going, because they’ll feel how much better they are but somehow, so, what we’ll use somebody’s brain nutrients just to get them off to get through and follow through.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. From a mindset perspective, it’s kind of like if you have pushed a car before right. You push the car. The hardest thing we’re pushing a car is overcoming the initial inertia of the car, from not moving to moving, right? That’s the hardest part. And so, when we’re dealing with people’s health inertia, it is just getting a couple of habits of moving in the direction that allows the car to start moving. Now, the amount of energy you need to put into that car to keep it moving is far less, right? It’s far less because you overcome the initial inertia of it being stock to moving. That’s kind of health is. You kind of make like a couple of small changes now’s the ball’s rolling and then now you can add, you know, you just can sleep for a little bit, add a little movement in there, and a couple of supplements and now we have a lot more now it becomes even easier to keep that going. And then of course, the key is now, okay, all the energy going into it was moving to the four steps of learning right. It’s unconscious incompetence, you don’t know what you don’t know. Now, you’re consciously incompetence, you know what you don’t know, you’re at least aware of these things. And then you go from step 2 to step 3 you’re consciously competent, someone’s helping you but there’s a lot of energy to keep doing the right things and then ideally you start to move into the level of unconscious competence where it’s automatic, right? It’s like someone who drives a standard transmission, everyone who’s done that they know, like, they’re starting on doing clutch, shift, what, their heads going down looking at the gearbox to stir up. It’s tough, right? But then eventually it’s like, clutch, shift, 1,2, 3, right? It’s easy, downshifting no problem. You don’t have to worry about it, it’s like you’re in automatic transmission because you get the whole thing. So, that’s kind of, well, where habits are, you just start with the ones that really bears the most fruit and then you go up from there. So, that’s kind of kind of look at out of the gates.
Evan Brand: Well, look, you just did a live on camera because you’re like oh, we’re talking about in that booby. Whip up a capsule, and then boom you pop your aminos just like that. That’s kind of how I am too with protocol, I mean I’ll just feel how I am; I need a little bit of this, a little bit of that. And I’m just consciously making these micro calculations throughout the day. Oh, little low heat, op stressful day, hit the adrenals a little harder. We’re constantly making these twigs, it’s just a really good place to be.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep. I’m gonna go hit some push-ups and some kettlebells, wings, and a little bit of rowing here in a minute. And I’m gonna, um, you know, use some. So, I just try, you know, surround myself with good tools that I could plug into throughout the day to keep that momentum going and then, you know, foundational things, food, water, sleep. So just make sure you, and then of course you can plug in some movement along there right. Those are your three to four big check marks that you gotta hit during the day. And as you start getting that, you can build up from there and that gets you that foundation you need.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Sleep is huge. So, we’d done a podcast on that but we’re always happy to do more. So, we’re wrapping out for now though. People can reach out if they need. We work around the world via facetime, uh, zoom, skype, you know, phone. We can do. We send labs everywhere and you can reach out to Dr. J at justinhealth.com and you can reach out to me, evanbrand.com and we’re happy to help. And we’ll look at some of these things and we’ll help investigate what could be going on, why’re you struggling. We know that you wanna get that dream business that dream goal, but you gotta make that a reality by optimizing these systems. So, that’s exactly what we do on ourselves on a day-to-day basis. Just literally just boost these neurotransmitters as we’re talking here. So, once you get these tools and place, you’re just gonna be driving, you can take over the world if that’s what you want.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% evanbrand.com, justinhealth.com. We’ll put links and recommendations for different things that we talked about product wise in the description of the video. Evan, awesome chat with you as always, my friend. We’ll talk soon.
Evan Brand: You too man. Take care.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan and I, we’ll go now. Bye-bye.
Evan Brand: Bye-bye.