Will Work Out for Mental Health

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I've been officially active for about 10 years now. I came back from a semester at college noticeably-to-others more overweight than I left, complete with comments from people who usually don't notice. Obviously, I had to do something about it. A friend was redeeming a free weeks' pass at a local gym, and she was given a free pass for a guest. After a week, I signed up and the rest is ... well, you know.

Obviously, dramatic changes happened right from the get-go. I lost the Freshmen, ahem, 15. I felt more energetic and I even got sick less. I'd get one cold every few weeks in the winter pre-fitness and maybe one per year in my post-sedentary life.

However, other changes happened that were less noticeable at the beginning. Most recently, I experienced a few days' sabbatical from working out. While some might roll their eyes at this, it is a big deal for me. More so than I thought. For instance, last week, due to a business trip in the middle of the week, I went from Monday clear through to Saturday without breaking an exercise-induced sweat. Let me tell you, my mental health did not benefit. By Friday, I was noticeably moody. Saturday morning I worked out, and the difference was profound. Same kind of thing happened the week before. I fell into a funk that only running for at least 30 minutes straight could remedy.

It's official, I'm addicted to endorphins. My husband rolled his eyes at me when I insisted that I needed to get on the treadmill, stat. I told him, "Honey, this is not for my looks. This is for my mental and emotional health." He did not stop me or say anything more after that. Probably because he was the primary victim of the exercise-deprived villain within me. Someone I hadn't known myself until fitness became my way of life.

The Downside of Early Morning Workouts

Monday, July 25, 2011

Recently, I finally forced myself to get up early and work out before work as opposed to after. This workout time fixed a number of "problems," but ended up creating some new ones. What's a girl to do?

Pros of early morning workout:
1. Workout is done for the day right away--starts the day off on the right key. I go to work feeling truly refreshed with invigorated lungs.

2. One shower per day as opposed to two. Silly problem, I know, but that extra water and time loss was actually really bothering me.

3. I love the energy of the early morning...the way barely anyone is up and about, the way the sun hits the planet, the way the mist is still lifting, and on and on.

4. I feel like I'm left with more time in my day. I leave work feeling like there's less on my "to-do list" and more time to spend with my family or getting other things done. When I did after-work workouts, by the time I clocked 35-40 on the treadmill and at least 20 minutes of strength, then showered, it was practically time to go to bed.

Cons of working out in the early morning:
1. I never have time to do the strength training after running like I did with my after-work workouts. And no, I'm not about to get up any earlier. The truth is in the numbers. In May, I clocked in 1260 workout minutes (I track this for our wellness program at work) and in June, when I started the morning routine, I only got 990 minutes. Although the scale hasn't budged, the wiggle when I wave and the protruding-more-than-normal gut don't lie. Believe me, I can tell the difference!

2. I just.can't.get.up. Most mornings start with me being pissed off about getting up so early. It's only about 1/2-hour, but it makes a difference. I'm not a natural early-morning person, so it hurts every time. I was starting to resent the early morning workout. I don't want to resent it!

3. And trying to get to bed earlier never works out. With toddler bedtimes and leftover to-dos, I just can't seem to hit the sack by 9:30.

I guess the pros outweigh the cons, but at least I gave morning workouts a shot. I'm really proud of myself, because I've only done morning workouts like three times in my entire life. To go three weeks was really a feat! At least I can pat myself on the back for that. We shall see if I decide to keep this up.