I often wonder if I am doing more for myself physically or mentally when I work out.
We all know that when we do any sort of physical exercise, we get stronger and healthier, but I have become more and more aware lately of the mental changes working out has on me.
Mornings around my house can get pretty crazy. I have two daughters; my oldest, Chloe, is 12, and Kiya is 7.
Chloe is awake at 5:45 a.m. and I drop her off at school by 7:20 a.m. In that hour and a half, we may have had meltdowns about clothes, hair and whatever else 12-year-old-girls stress about.
After dropping her off, I come home and wake up Kiya, who is ready and out the door by 8:30 (another hour filled with little girl madness).
I usually get to the gym by 8:45 a.m. I take a deep breath and start class by 9. From 9 to 10 a.m., something amazing happens: All the morning’s chaos disappears and I get to let out all my stress and worries. It’s an hour of physical exertion and somehow I feel like it also turns into an hour therapy session.
I can show up so frazzled and grumpy, but I leave feeling new, refreshed, energized and ready to get back into life with a much better attitude.
After classes, I usually have clients back to back for a few hours and I am able to give my best to them because I took an hour for myself.
Then I leave the gym and get back to my most important job as wife and mom. I am also able to give my family a happier, healthier me because I took one hour for myself and worked out.
Now, maybe it’s the amazing people at the gym in class that help lift my mood, or possibly that I get to let out my stress with yelling while instructing an hour-long class.
But science has shown me why I feel so much better after a good workout. It’s all because of a thing called “endorphins.” When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, as well as reduce our perception of pain (this is what antidepressants are doing when you take them, but many of us can get the same feeling just from working out).
Maybe the world would be a lot happier (not to mention healthier) if we were all prescribed an hour or two of physical activity a day.
Most of us live very crazy busy lives, and making time to work out is just not possible. But what if it made you better at your job, helped you perform better,have a better attitude and be kinder to your co-workers? Would it be worth an hour of your time? I hear a lot of moms say they feel selfish taking that time for themselves, or it’s only for vanity reasons, which goes against being a “good mom.”
But I know I am a better mom because I took that hour for myself. If one hour of “me time” allows me to give more to my family, gives me more energy to run and play with my kids, lifts my mood so I am laughing and having fun with my family … well, how is that selfish?
As far as the vanity piece goes, I work out for health, not looks, but it definitely helps my self-esteem. Lifting weights and physically exhausting myself with a group of inspiring motivational people would hopefully help anyone suffering from low self-esteem.
So all this ranting has a point – EXERCISE! Not just for your physical health, but for your mental health, for your friends and family (nobody likes a Debbie Downer), for that feeling of “YES! I just kicked some major butt at the gym and I am ready to take on the rest of my day,” for an hour of social uplifting that happens within the walls of your gym, for a brighter outlook on all you do.
Samantha Williams is a personal trainer with her company Fit Fit 4:13 Facebook page. No matter what your size, you are welcome to participate in the free month of workouts!he owns Rhema Music & Clothing Company in Fruita and is also a fitness instructor and personal trainer through the Fruita Community Center. She is the mother of two beautiful girls and the wife of an incredibly talented musician. She was born and raised in Fruita, and can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. Join her March Fitness Challenge on her