Sweaty girls don’t cry, or at least cry as much. Exercise has been correlated with as much mental health benefits as anti-depressant drugs but without any of the negative side effects. Here is why I find it is important to never skip a gym day, especially when I am down, sad, or anxious.
Sometimes weeks just suck. The funny thing is, sometimes they suck for no discernible reason whatsoever. This just makes everything suck MORE, because you know you shouldn’t be upset, or anxious, or pissed off, or whatever you are but your mind stubbornly persists that yes, things that routinely bring you joy are terrible things today. For myself personally, I have the sneaking suspicion that my down weeks are in fact caused by other weeks in my past which should have been down weeks, but whose emotional impact I filed away in my brain until I had the time and patience to deal with them. Unfortunately, at that point in time I no longer remember why I should have been upset two months ago. So…. Thanks brain. I appreciate your ability to be calm and rational in a crisis, but sometimes you annoy the shit out of me.
It’s weeks like these when my workout routine fills me with dread. Easy days are hard, and hard days are SCARY. I walk into the gym, and my brain fills with “I can’t”. You can’t lift that, you can’t squat that. How did you ever think you could to a chin up with added weight? You’re going to hurt yourself. Why can’t you be a reasonable normal person and just do a twenty-minute workout, or better yet, nothing at all? Why do you do this to yourself?
Why do I do this to myself?
I work out because I know I can. At a certain point, your mind has to bow down to overwhelming evidence, and the track and the weight room is where I find my voice of reason. If I have lifted a weight, or performed a weighted chin up countless times, I know I can do it again. While my brain screams at me that I am going to collapse and die, I put on my running shoes and let muscle memory take over. It’s not pleasant. It never is. But when I finish I see that yes, I told myself I couldn’t do it but I was wrong. Then I move on to the next set, or the next day. Each one is a completely new battle, but a new one that I win simply by being at the gym and doing what I have done over and over and over again. I thought I couldn’t do it, and I was wrong. I can do one more set, one more rep.
This battle of wills makes the rest of my day easier in comparison. Anything I do, at least I am not working out. And going to sleep is always easier when you are physically exhausted.
The best part is, eventually the day comes when I listen to the evidence. That happened yesterday for me. It was a kind of emotional day, going through an award ceremony for helping out at an accident which wasn’t… all glorious and heroic like you think it should be. I was sweating like it was summer the whole day. I didn’t want to go to the gym, but I dragged myself there. My handstand sets, AKA my warm up, had me sweat soaked in minutes and my heart pounding heavily in my chest.
That was hard, I told myself. Why don’t you just stop now?
I didn’t stop. I kept going.
Why do you do this to yourself?
I completed my squat set, and my deadlifts. My weighted chin ups and dips went okay. I was grabbing paper towels from the dispenser, desperately trying to keep the sweat from going up my nose, and dripping on everyone else. Finally, when I got to shoulders, I had a thought which hadn’t popped into my head for a while.
I can do this.
After shoulders came lunges.
I can do this!
I finished shoulders, moved on to flys, looked at my sweat soaked physique in the mirror and thought, right now, you are one bad ass sweaty, smelly, glory soaked girl. And I was happy.
Life is hard sometimes. Even in such a wonderful country as the United States of America, even when we should be happy every day just because most of us know we will be fed, housed, and clothed. However, just because we should be happy, doesn’t mean we always are. I think it is important to recognize that being sad is okay. It is also important to instill in our lives routines that when we are unhappy, reteach us that we can move past the unpleasantness into something else. When your brain tells you that you can’t, it is critically important to show it that you can. There is no better place for that then the gym. The gym is a small little perfect world, where no matter what happens, effort and consistency will yield positive results.
I once read an amazing article in runner’s magazine, which talked about how running was critical for treatment of depression and other emotional ailments for precisely that reason. Kids who trained for a 5K, learned that while things may suck at a particular moment, that that particular moment did not have to define them. They learned that they could persevere, and that they could continue to move through those sucky, sweaty moments in order to gain happiness and achievement on the other side.
Moral of the story? If you struggle with bouts of sadness like I do, this is my suggestion: never, ever, ever, say your life is too hectic, too hard, too crazy for the gym or a run. Your life is too hectic not to. Embrace your sadness and sweat, and I will see you on the happier (or at least the I feel more justified in eating 10 cookies) side of life. 😊
This Week in Updates: Service Wide and Strawberries
So the service wide is next week, meaning it is a three day weekend of studying for me. Time spent studying so far? Zero minutes and zero seconds. Time spent eating cookies so far? A lot less than it should be, meaning I like to eat cookies and eat them FAST. Don’t judge me too harshly though, as I had the overnight last night. Studying will happen as soon as I finish this post, and start some cooking.
One of the things I want to cook… strawberry jam! Yup, strawberries are in season, though not summer time cheap as of yet. I passed up the 99 cents a pound organic apples and oranges all to buy one 16 oz thing of delicious looking strawberries. Why? Well, I have a craving for strawberries number one. And number two, my grandma sent me English muffins. What is better than toasted English muffins and fresh homemade strawberry jam? Not much. (Except more cookies… no don’t say that!)
The Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Butter Avocado Toast
You can either make this completely homemade, or completely store bought. Of course, I made everything myself including the coconut butter and the bread. The minimalist baker has a fantastic recipe for Easy Whole Wheat Seeded Bread, and best of all? It works if you put it in the fridge and let it rise overnight! How easy is that? You can make the coconut butter by watching the below video. Homemade coconut butter is naturally sweet, so you shouldn’t need any sugar to make this very filling, delicious, chocolate coconut butter avocado toast. Best of all? Everything for this toast, minus the avocados, is ridiculously cheap. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
- Coconut Butter
- Whole Wheat Bread, toasted
- Avocado, sliced
- Unsweetened powdered baking chocolate
- Toast bread
- Cover with coconut butter and sliced avocados
- Dust with chocolate powder