Monday, March 31, 2014

Exercise for mental health.

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

That is an excerpt from a book I recently read called Spark by John Ratey, MD. Pretty motivating, right? I downloaded it in an attempt to brainwash myself into forming a regular exercise routine. I figured the normal motivators (swim suit season, skinny jeans...) were obviously not working, so I needed to come at it from a different angle.

I had never taken the focus off my body and put it on my mind before when it came to exercise but it turns out, it's a totally different thing. Instead of waiting for "results" that may or may not happen, you just do your 30 minutes of cardio every day because you have to. It's like a prescription. (Or actually, it's better than a prescription...) Not doing it just isn't an option.

Of course, when you have small children who are with you 24/7, this is much easier said than done. There will be days when finding 30 minutes of sweaty me time is as impossible as learning to fly. But now that I know my goal, I can do my best to make it a priority.

At first I planned to wake up early each morning to get my 30 minutes over with before the kids got up. I figured it was the only surefire way I'd fit it in. I told Bill one night that I was setting my alarm for 6:30 so I could get up and go for a run before he left for the office. He just kind of looked at me like, "It's almost midnight and it's COLD outside. Plus...have you met my wife?"

He's totally right. Mornings are not my thing. Nor is running. Or cold weather. Or hot weather... I had to figure out a way to make this as easy as possible.

Fortunately we've had no luck getting rid of our Xfinity cable (we never use it now that we've got Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime but it's cheaper to have it than not have it or something crazy like that...). Anyway, there are a ton of fitness videos on demand - and lots of them are 30 minutes long! So far, this is the most consistent way I've found of getting a workout in on a regular basis.

I don't need a babysitter or a big chunk of time and I can do it whenever I want (aka, whenever the boys are not up in my grill for a second). And if I get finished with the workout for my brain and still have time, I can easily add a workout for my body (five minute abs videos are perfect - that's really about all I can handle anyway). Plus, I love me some good aerobics.

As for results, I can definitely say when I do the thirty minutes, I feel better than when I don't. And since I'm weaning off one antidepressant (Zoloft), it's a perfect time for me to ramp up another one (exercise). As for not developing dementia or other brain related illnesses later in life...I'll have to let you know. (Way more fun than an after photo in a swim suit!)

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