Monday, January 17, 2011
the truth about endorphins
or, how it's not a lie thin people tell us to make us feel bad
i have never, ever, ever in my whole life bought into the idea that working out magically makes a person feel awesome. partially because i despise working out so much, and have spent so much of my 33 years on earth feeling awkward and uncoordinated while working out in public.
however, i'm old enough to now admit that i was maybe, kind of, a little bit wrong.
there is something kind of satisfying about working up a sweat. there comes a moment, about ten or fifteen minutes into working out when i stop thinking about how weird my gait is and wondering if people are making fun of my stiff legs* and just go into a zone. with my music on, and the blood pumping, i actually feel good. if the right song comes on (i'm looking at you, gaga), i can stay on the elliptical machine way longer than i ever would have thought, and find myself with an actual, hand-to-god, smile on my face. if you had told me i would feel this way while working out about a year ago, i would have told you to shove your endorphins where the sun doesn't shine. and i would have used an expletive or two. all of the benefits of exercise, especially the endorphin thing, always seemed to be yet another way thin folks were trying to make chub scouts feel shitty about being round. i think i kind of felt this way because i lived with a woman for a few years who was working on becoming a nutritionist and who constantly made reproaching remarks about what i ate, what i did, etc. she was weirdly controlling with her food (i remember a time when she would only eat what fit into a yogurt container, and mostly that was quinoa), and eating a candy bar or hot wings in the house was my own personal form of rebellion. childish, sure, but oh so satisfying in its own way. i understand that most of her comments and actions came from a place that was honestly concerned about me, and from her own insecurities, but still! i hated being told all the time how everything i did was wrong.
i worked out for 45 minutes this afternoon without really thinking about it after the first 15. i was feeling good, i was thinking about endorphins and how they really are pretty amazing, and then the 3 o'clock fitness class came in. i probably could have gone for another 15 easily, and was sort of sad to be stopping. at the same time, i don't want to overdo it, and working out is still a novelty for my body, so i was okay with ending it on a high note. i'm slowly getting into a routine, and getting to know what my limits are and what i like to do, and can honestly see working out not just as a means to being thinner, but as a way of feeling good in my body. losing two pounds last week is definitely motivation to keep going, but i like to think even if i hadn't lost anything, this awesome post-workout-glow would have been enough. i suppose on plateau weeks, we'll see if i'm right!
*when i was in college, right after high school, a classmate of mine described me to someone as "that girl who doesn't bend her knees when she walks." it's dumb, and it's not like that girl and i were the best of friends, but that's one of those things i'm totally self-conscious about!