Exercise: The Ultimate Self Care Tool

Exercise: The Ultimate Self Care Tool

After a much needed Thanksgiving break filled with Netflix binge watching and late mornings, I am officially back at work. Only a few more weeks left in the semester, and with a New Year just around the corner, I feel like a new me is just waiting to emerge. I have this fantasy of waking up on New Year’s Day and having all my current health issues evaporate. That is definitely my New Year’s resolution, wish, dream, whatever you want to call it.

Seeing as that might be a bit out of my control, I’m taking steps to at least feel better physically and mentally. This week for the first time in months, I went to the gym. It was freaking fantastic. It’s amazing how something that I literally would complain about doing before is now an integral part of my self-care routine. That’s the secret about exercise and fitness in general that I wish was more widely known. The more you do it, the more addictive it is. Every time I’m sweating on the exercise bike or ran a 5K on the treadmill, I get a huge rush of endorphins that lasts me for hours. Imagine after a four month hiatus?

I took it pretty easy. Went for half an hour or so both Monday and today in the morning before work. Just getting out of the bus and walking towards the gym on an unbelievable warm November morning was exhilarating. In that moment I was completely out of my head, just taking in the few remaining leaves perched on trees, the sights of people biking and running on the street. Once I got inside, it was so familiar, like an old buddy that you’ve been meaning to call and finally run into on the street. Everything about it felt just right. I was so glad in that moment that I had managed to get myself there.

I wasn’t sure the entire weekend if I was actually going to go on Monday morning. My usual exercise routine isn’t so usual or routine anymore in a way since I haven’t done it for so many months due to my health issues. I was filled with worry about whether I was pushing myself to do this before being physically ready just for the sake of getting back into my regular routine and thereby regain a greater sense of normalcy. Last thing I wanted to do was aggravate my condition, especially when often enough one of my symptoms is shortness of breath.

Once I started working out, all of those fears quickly disappeared. I was truly enjoying myself and getting the feel for why this time in the morning is so precious. There I was, before the madness of emails, students wanting my help, or experiments that need troubleshooting. I was in my own little world, doing something healthy first thing. It’s an incredible feeling.

I exercised for about 15-20 minutes on the stationary bike (I was taking it easy) all the while watching the morning talk shows; a luxury I only get to do while at the gym. That’s how I found out that Prince Harry is engaged (I let out an audible gasp of shock and excitement). After I was finished, I quickly changed into my work clothes for the day and walked back outside to walk towards the bus station to take the bus the rest of the way into work.

One day is good, and I was already feeling pretty proud of myself for making in to work out on Monday, so also making the commitment to go this morning was the cherry on top. This morning though I wasn’t so sure if I was going to make it in. I’m out of the habit of waking up early and since I had a morning meeting first thing at work, it wasn’t looking good but then I rallied and made it for a short 20 minute session on the treadmill.

As I waited for the bus outside the gym, I felt triumphant. It’s so great to be back doing something that brings me so much joy. It might not seem like much but even this small change has a ripple effect. I’ve been more productive at work the last two days, and less sluggish feeling overall despite not being 100% health wise. I’m going to go for another visit on Friday morning and make it a trifecta; then I’ll know I’m back for good. Who needs New Year’s resolutions when you’ve got good ol’ fashioned will power? I’m so grateful to have found you again.


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