Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Psychological Benefit of Exercise Class

Sabbatical is over, but this week, I'm cleaning house and catching up.  In the meantime, I'm sharing a rerun about why I'm loving circuit torture.

It's been a frustrating couple of days on several levels.  Monday started with a double-barrel shotgun of irritations, and no sign of getting better...and it was only eight in the morning.  I was so late to my circuit training class, I almost decided just to skip for the day and go back to bed.  However, I made myself go to the later class instead, even though I was feeling the time pressure.  Why?  I'm finding that working out helps me feel better about myself.

There are a couple of things at work here.  Sure, as you get healthier, it can affect your mood; and sure, seeing my body shape up is good for my self-image.  However, today, it was something more basic.

If I worked out for the hour, I would have accomplished something.

That's been the kicker for me these past few days.  Sometimes, it seems that no matter how hard I work, how careful I am, how well I follow the Recipe for Success, something or someone beyond my control steps in to declare me inadequate or show me that I'm not going to succeed, anyway.  Or I'll do everything right, and still not succeed for who-knows-why.  When I'm working out, however, the goals are clear--jump on the box as many times as you can in 60 seconds.  Run at your fastest pace for a minute.  Did it without passing out or throwing up?  Increase the speed!  Lift as much weight as you can for as many reps as you can.

I have an personal trainer/instructor who can show me if I'm doing something wrong, but really, it's pretty cut and dried:  Grab the weights, stand like this, lift, lower, repeat.  I'm not in competition with anyone but myself, so if I improve or even just persevere through the hour, I succeeded.  No one judges my performance, misinterprets what I'm doing, or scolds me publicly.

Even on the weeks when I gain in weight or inches, I can point to why--the donut, the burrito.  There's no mystery why I failed, and if I failed (as in meeting the weekly goal), it was not from some outside influence, mysterious or not.

So despite the sweat and the achy muscles and how I shiver when I cool down, there's something comforting about circuit training.  I'm glad I went on Monday.  I still spent much of the day in a crappy mood feeling like nothing was going my way, but at least that hour of exercise was a success.

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