I don’t know about y’all, but last week was a freakin’ long week. I came back from my awesome staycation to an email inbox of 859 messages, which it took me three hours to whittle down. Then we dove in head first trying to get ready for a major project launch that was scheduled to go on Thursday, but which got pushed out to this coming Tuesday due to technical issues. One of my team members was gone, so in addition to trying to get caught up, I had to take over her responsibilities, too. We had technical problems all week long, so I was dealing with the fallout from that, and trying to deal with bigger, overarching issues at the same time. It was a pretty not-fun “welcome back from vacation.”
At the same time as I was going through all of that, I decided that it was time to change up my life by increasing my exercise workload. So, I started getting up early in the morning before work to go to the gym and swim a mile or so. On one hand, I felt pretty darn proud of myself for actually managing to discipline myself enough to get up an hour early and go to the pool for 45-50 minutes before work. On the other hand, I spent the whole week feeling like I had been used as a punching bag for the Russian Olympic Boxing Team. Come about 2PM or so, I could barely sit up straight in my chair, let alone actually concentrate on my work.
Here is, I think, the problem: My endorphin maker is broken. Let me give you an example from an article by K. Cossaboon called Exercise and the “Endorphin Rush”.
We’ve known for a long time about the benefits of exercise as a way to enhance our physical condition and combat disease; but it hasn’t been until more recently that exercise is being recognized as an element in maintaining mental fitness. Studies have shown that exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which in turn cause us to have what is commonly know as a "natural high" or a "runners high". You may not realize what caused it, but most of us have felt it. Whether we’re engaged in a leisurely swim or an adrenaline-charged rock climb, there is that moment when suddenly pain or discomfort drops away and we are filled with a sense of euphoria. We have endorphins to thank for these moments of bliss.
This. Doesn’t. Happen.
Seriously. I never, ever, ever feel better either while or after I exercise. I only feel better three days later when I step on the scale and see that I’ve lost weight. But the act of exercising has never once given me an endorphin rush. I just hurt, my brain gets fuzzy, and I get really lethargic. And don’t bother telling me that I just have to keep at it and eventually I’ll get there. I spent about two years straight playing the gym rat. I was in great shape, dancing every day, lifting weights for 1-2 hours a day, five days a week. I know from exercise. And I also know that, no matter how many times I do it, I never get the endorphin rush.
Ergo, there are only two options remaining. Either my body is immune to its own endorphins, or my endorphin maker is broken. (I see from my old friend Wikipedia that endorphins are manufactured by the pituitary gland and the hypothalmus. ‘Cuz Knowledge is Power!")
In any case, despite my broken hypothalmus, I have continued to exercise and, perhaps also importantly, eat better. In the process of doing this I learned something interesting.
Weight Loss the Next Morning
|Day 1||200 Calories under my limit||600 calories burned||Gained .3 Pounds|
|Day 2||300 Calories under my limit||1000 calories burned||Gained .2 Pounds|
|Day 3||150 Calories over my limit||No Exercise||Stayed Even|
|Day 4||500 Calories under my limit||750 calories burned||Gained 1 Pound|
|Day 5||Just under my limit||800 calories burned||Gained .5 Pounds|
|Day 6||At at McDonalds, Make Chocolate Chip Cookies AND homemade lasagna. Didn’t even bother counting||No Exercise||Lost 4 Pounds|
So, as you can see, the real trick to weight loss is to trick your body into thinking that you’re exercising and eating right, then slapping it across the face with McDonalds. I think I can do this weight loss thing.
No, but seriously, I have lost about six pounds since I started just over a week ago. It won’t win me anything on The Biggest Loser, but it’s a good start. And, on that note, I’m going to close down this very cheery and chipper blog post, because I have to go to bed so I can get up at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow to swim before work. I’ll probably gain half a pound.