Friday, January 21, 2011

Making exercise the drug of choice

I was just on facebook (surprise, surprise!) and a friend said that she had just gotten a big, yummy frappuccino with an extra espresso shot  and said it was her drug of choice. I responded with how I'm trying to make exercise my drug of choice and decided I had more to say on it and it would make a great blog post for today.

So, this is the deal. I realllllllllly don't like thinking about exercise. I don't get euphoric thinking about exercising. It's a chore. It's something I need to do and it takes a lot of energy to actually get up and do it. It's really the exact same for me and cleaning. I know I need to do it, but actually getting off my duff and doing it is way, way difficult. So much easier to check out facebook, read articles and blogs on the internet and to play the day away. Of course, I have to do chores. I don't have a housekeeper and we have a 3000 square foot home, 2 kids, two cats, me, my husband and my mother in law all who like a fairly tidy home and good, homemade food in their tummies. So, I do the chores and now I am doing the exercise - every day, like it or not.

But some people really love to exercise. They get antsy if they can't get to it. They'll exercise even if they are in pain and even if the doctor tells them to lay off for awhile. They are addicted to it. Addicted to the rush they get during and after a good run, swim, whatever workout of their choice. I was just reading a blog ( and the guy is a triathlete. He was recently overseas. He had just a short day in Greece and an overnight layover in Switzerland. His idea of sightseeing was to run for an hour and take photos of things he saw with his camera. I read that in complete awe! My idea of sightseeing involves slowly walking down the streets, stopping for a coffee and pastry at a local cafe and just slowly taking it all in - not running in shorts on a winter day through Zurich!

Yet, I do understand that euphoric feeling you get while exercising. I get it it too. When I start to exercise, I tell myself how long I have to do it. Lately I've said, 'one hour of walking'. The first fifteen minutes my mind isn't into it, my legs start to feel like lead, and I hate it. Then, the endorphins start flowing and I want to pick up the pace, I feel good, I feel myself smiling and almost every time I have to make myself stop at one hour as now I'm really into it and want to put in just 5 minutes more, 10 minutes more. The last two days it was only because I had to go pick up my youngest at kindergarten that I stopped. Afterwards I feel great! I feel good for exercising and doing something good for my body, but more, I have fended off the sleepies, my appetite is suppressed naturally, and life is just good, plain and simple for about an hour or so after exercising. I feel like I walk taller, feel slimmer and nearly perfect after a good workout - even though I'm really the same old me.

So, I know this. I know I feel great while exercising and after exercising, so why is it so hard to still do it? Why is it a chore then? Like cleaning, I feel great when I've spent the day hard at work and now my kitchen sparkles, but I still don't want to have to clean the toilets the next day. The satisfaction of it hardly seems worth the effort of having to do it again the next day. I get discouraged when I get all caught up on laundry only to see a new pile come down the laundry chute. Exercise seems the same. It's a lot of effort to get to that euphoric state - and that state is far better than the satisfaction of a shiny wood floor.

How does one make exercise their drug of choice? Other legal drugs have no effort to them - sugar rush, caffeine high, an alcohol buzz, a shopping high... all that is fun and easy (though many have bad after effects - weight gain, shakes, headaches, empty bank account and mad spouse). How does one get to the "I need to exercise today"? And not the need in the "I know I should do it sense", but the physical/mental addict need - like those who need that coffee to function? I want to get there. I truly do as there are no bad side effects of liking to exercise (as long as I listen to my body and know when to take it easy). I would say you have to grow up with it to make it a life long habit and desire, but that's not quite true. I think it's easier to like it if you've always done it, but I know many people who were late to start exercising who found that love. I keep hoping I'll be one of these people some day, but I'm not there yet, and at 41 years old, I'm not sure it will ever be more than a chore I need to do, but I can hope I find that exercise really does become the drug of my choice. Well, I guess it already is the drug I'm choosing as I am not drinking caffeine, eating sugars or drinking, shopping or anything else 'bad'. It's just a forced choice.

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