Welcome to the inaugural "Fight the Funk Friday" post!
I came to a realization this week. It's not actually the first time I've had this epiphany, but every so often it strikes me again and feels like a fresh, new thing.
If I think of exercise and eating right and all that as being about weight, heart health, strength, and all that, it's just not that much fun. I know it's good for me, but what I tend to end up doing is thinking, as I'm working out, "How did I let myself get this out of shape?" It's not so much that I'm beating up on myself because I learned long ago that's not the way I want to be. But it does tend to lead me more towards comparing where I am now to where I'd rather be. Sure, that can be motivating, but too often it just seems way too far away. So calling a weekly blog post "Fitness Friday" was only partially motivating to me. I couldn't help but mentally add in "Or not-so-fitness..."
The realization I had this week was that, for me, the main benefit of getting serious cardio is this:
Exercise is a mood-altering drug.
I've been in a funk this summer. It's unusual for it to hit me in the summer--my funkiness is usually pretty winter-related. However, it's been a rough summer, I've not gotten outside a whole lot except when I was working, and things just haven't gone the way I'd normally like them to go. Bring on the funk. Cranky. Perpetually imagining the worst-case-scenarios. Insomnia. Hermit-ing.
On Wednesday, I made myself get to the gym, regardless of how little I was in the mood for it. Once I was on the elliptical (for the first time since the beginning of the summer) I felt good that my body was moving again. And then Pherrell Williams' "Happy" came on my playlist, and I was grinning. Suddenly, I was in a completely different mental place than I'd been for the last several weeks. Endorphins abounded. By the time I was in my car driving home, I had the windows wide open and was treating my neighboring cars to a concert of songs from E.L.O. to M.I.A. while doing the "driver's seat boogie." Memories of that feeling got me back to the gym on Thursday even while I was still feeling the stiffness from Wednesday's workout. I wanted that drug again.
We have a strong strain of what my older sister once referred to as "melancholia" that runs through our family. Various leaves on our family tree have it with more severity than others, but it's definitely a genetic thing in these parts. One thing I've learned about myself over the years is that the best way to control my version of it is by getting really solid cardio sessions in at the gym. I enjoy walking along the canal with Sammy, I enjoy swimming laps in my backyard pool. I know those are good for me too, but they don't quite click my brain into another place the way 45 minutes of serious sweat on the elliptical does.
So from now on, I'll be labeling these posts "Fight the Funk Friday." I made a nifty little logo for myself. And I'll be hashtagging #fightthefunk (a quick search on Twitter didn't turn up anything untoward already using the same hashtag--hopefully that'll stick!). It'll be my way of reminding myself that regardless of how fit or unfit I may feel on any given day, the best way for me to stay in a good mood is to get myself some serious cardio.
I'll be fighting the funk by getting that heart rate up. Join me?
By the way, I may also be fighting the funk in other ways, so other non-gym-related things might occasionally get #fightthefunk 'd. Feel free to fight your own funk however you need to!
The other thing I've been enjoying again this week is my favorite post-workout treat: Thistle Farms shower gel in Tea Tree Mint scent. I seriously love this stuff. It feels and smells great. Be sure you read all about Thistle Farms--great organization. (I've interviewed Becca Stevens for my work podcast, had a tour of their facilities, and had conversations with some of the women. Great stuff! And no--I'm not an affiliate. I'm just making a suggestion!)
And just to leave you with a smile on your face...My other favorite version of this song on YouTube.