Sometimes the most potent medicine for what ails us lies within ourselves. I have covered a lot of subjects in my blogs. One requires that I act. I must learn to better manage the stress in my life. We all know stress kills – it causes physical, emotional, and mental illness for millions.
I can feel stress crush, move, contort and manipulate my muscles, blood vessels, heart, stomach and mind. I feel the pulse of released adrenaline send a shockwave through my body. It is not a good feeling when it happens, and the negative effects linger and accumulate over time.
I try to take care of my body. I focus on eating right (yes I still eat too much), sleeping enough, taking vitamins, and regularly visiting my doctors.
I also exercise.
I have been doing regular exercise for 38 years. I have had periods of heavy exercise, lite exercise, and breaks for injuries and because of heavy work schedules, but I have never quit. I have exercised at home, in hotels, at gyms and outside.
I have never had a trainer, and as a result I might not have the best form or technique. But I still love my exercise time. This Saturday, I’m changing that by working with a trainer for the first time.
My portfolio of exercise activities over the years includes snowboarding, skiing, hiking, running, biking, walking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, swimming, physical yard work, racquetball, tennis, lifting weights and golfing. Looking back, I am amazed at the variety, and more importantly that I have never stopped.
Some patterns have emerged. I like to exercise later in the day. You will not see me at a gym at 6 am. I like to exercise 3 to 4 times per week. If it’s nice out, I want to exercise outside; I love the feeling of the wind on my cheeks, the sun in my eyes and the sensation of hot and cold on my skin. Outside exercise just makes me feel totally alive!
I constantly ask myself, what has driven me to never quit the last 38 years? Quitting would be so easy – just come home, eat, and lay on the couch. All these years of exercise require a lot of effort. Most of the time I have to drive some place to exercise. Other times I have to get on a plane. Many of these activities take an hour or more to do; yet I still go.
It is a commitment of sheer willpower. Unfortunately, I do not have the same commitment to shut my mouth to eat less, but that’s another blog topic.
But what drives this willpower? I believe I finally have the answer. All this exercise is a powerful medicine for the mind. Another paradox. I started exercising to build and keep my muscles tone and in shape. Yet these years of exercise have toned and strengthened my mind. 38 years of preventive medicine that I never realized I was taking.
With all the stress I take in, I use exercise as a machine to convert that stress into a form of exercise fuel. Crazy idea, probably not 100% scientific and I am sure I don’t convert and eliminate all the stress I take in. I am working on some alternative techniques to eliminate the residual stress, one of which is meditation.
Exercise takes me to a level of inner peace by a process. First, I procrastinate – I want to exercise, but I’m just not ready to take that first step. Then I get ready: I get my music and RunKeeper exercise app open. Then I take that first step, lift that first weight, and swing the first golf club….
For the first two thirds of my exercise time I hate it. That familiar love-hate relationship that is one of my defining attributes.
Then my mind clears; worries, stress, work, and family melt into a blank mind. Neurons firing yet stillness, completely void of thought, yet overflowing with a warm good feeling. A natural reset button.
Soon enough, I’m done, basking in the afterglow of that good feeling for hours.
And you know what? I have a severe addiction. This medicine like many others can be addicting. However, this is one addiction I want.
When are you going to get hooked on this powerful medicine for the mind?