I had a case of “Exercise Bipolar Disorder” (EBP like Tony Horton calls it)

One of the things that Tony Horton mentioned on Saturday is that exercise causes the body to produce adrenaline, serotonin, norepinephrine  and dopamine which are all “feel-good” brain chemicals. The thing is that the effect only lasts from 24 to 48 hours, so if you only workout 3 times a week, you are probably prone to getting into a slump or realizing that you are a little more stressed out than usual or, maybe even more moody than usual, which is EXACTLY what happened to me.

If you have been following my blog, you will probably have read that I had a couple of stressful weeks. Yes, that not-so delightful, gray-hair causing, irritable thing that happens when we’re on a deadline or things are not going as well as we expect them to go…. STRESS came in hissing like a snake and ready to bite my happy butt. If you are one of my friends, you probably know that I am well known for being a “hard worker” or for doing a lot (work, school, being a mom, wife, exercising, translating, interpreting and sometimes putting an event together). So the truth of the matter is that I must enjoy taking a lot of things on, so why stress? I wonder… well maybe I like to be seen as an overachiever or I like it when people think “wow, how does she do it?” The truth of the matter is that no matter how I put it, I like to look good and that’s all there is to it

I had worked out with Tony Horton on Saturday but did not work out on Sunday, Monday or yesterday… why? Because I had a cold and hadn’t slept well, and felt sick, and blah, blah, blah. Truth is regardless of the reasons, I didn’t work out and I felt worse. I got home yesterday and I was feeling extremely exhausted and irritable. I just wanted to go home and sleep and that doesn’t work very well when you have a 3 year old who has been waiting to see you all day and who probably doesn’t quite understand why mommy doesn’t want to play today.

I got home last night in a MAJOR funk and when I asked myself why, I realized I hadn’t worked out for two whole days! And it occurred to me… I’ve been doing Insanity so I must at least have some results now, right? And so it was that I decided to finally take that bikini I bought after the holidays and take pictures just to see what results I had gotten. To my surprise, my tummy is almost flat! I discovered that this was the only thing I needed to get myself back on track and out of that dreadful funk. I happily went to bed committed to working out this morning, no matter what, no excuses… but then I coughed my head off all night and according to Joseph, I was “breathing funny” although he didn’t use those words, it was “honey, you weren’t really breathing funny, you sounded like a stuck carburetor.” Although I know that’s not true (cause I never heard it!)… fine! So I guess he doesn’t quite like my lullabies. 😛  Regardless, I caused him to get very little sleep. (Good thing we’re married because the whole embarrassment of sounding like a stuck carburetor just disappears when you’re married… trust me on this one, it’s  a GOOD thing)

When the alarm went off at 4:30 this morning, Joseph refused to get up (understandably). So I worked out by myself for the first time in 3 weeks. To my surprise, although the cough is still there, I am feeling much better, I have energy and I have been able to stay focused on my projects and the funk is completely gone.

Yes I know, I need to listen to my body, because it wouldn’t be smart for me to just workout if I have a fever. We need to use some common sense here people. The truth is that I slept well, regardless of the (ahem…) carburetor noises I was making and I didn’t have a fever.

This to me was a good lesson on what Tony Horton calls “Exercise Bipolar Disorder” as he put it so simply in his book: “When you move your body, you heal your mind.” The funny thing is that I instinctively have known this for years. I took on running years ago, mainly because I thought that running was giving me an outlet for my negative feelings and at the time I was going through a nasty divorce from an unhealthy marriage. I ran and loved the feeling of the wind hitting my face, the fresh breeze and smell of the ocean as I jogged 13 miles from Santa Monica to Will Rogers’ Beach and back. I ran because my body kept telling me to keep going while my mind kept telling me that if I only ran a few more steps I’d feel better… and finally at the end of the 13 miles I did. Much better, more refreshed and stronger. I got in shape in no time during that year. It was emotionally difficult but also emotionally strengthening, awesome and empowering at the same time. And so it was, that I got addicted to all those feel-good brain chemicals, but hey, if I’m going to be addicted to something, why not something that is actually GOOD for me?

Years ago I started running as a means of escaping all the frustration and feeling of failure from a marriage that hadn’t gone as I had planned and then I couldn’t stop running, and took on running several 5K’s (my best time was 23 minutes), and then I just ran because it felt, oh so good… as good as a glass of Pinot Noir and a piece of dark chocolate… that good. The same thing I did now, I started working out to get healthier, because I want to live long and see my daughter grow up and be as much part of her life as I can and now, I am working out because I just can’t stop, I feel great, I feel strong and it makes me happy. Joseph told me this morning “Oh, you seem much happier today, what changed?” and I replied “I worked out.” So it is, that exercise has become an integral part of my physical and emotional well-being.