I have not always been the way that I am today. I have not always had this intense determination and drive. I have always had a love for health, fitness, and exercise, but life had itʼs way with me several times.
Life does not always turn out the way that you want. You make, what you think at the time, are good decisions. Quickly, if you are fortunate, they show you how wrong you were. So what do you do? Pick up the pieces and move on. And then what do you know? It happens again. I have had made my share of not so good choices that have effected me well beyond the time you would think a person would be effected. How does this relate to fitness, and health you ask? Well, too many times I have found myself down, sometimes due to my choices. And there have been times during the low points I just threw in the towel on health and fitness. Not because I didnʼt like it, or I was tired of it, but because I let life control me, not me control my life. What would always happen? I would feel worse. I would lack energy and the mental clarity to handle the issues I was faced with. As more came on and I was doing less when it came to my health and fitness, I simply lost control.
Some of my darkest moments in life came about not because of the choices I made, but because of how I let them affect me, control me, and ultimately impact my health. There is something to be said about training intensely, and the mental clarity and strength that comes over you. I have solved many of my problems during an intense training session. I have, very suddenly, been showered with an immense amount of strength and resolve to either walk away, or change the course I was heading down that was sure to cause even more turmoil. This may seem a little over the top, but lets look at the science of what happens when you train.
Exercise has effects on the brain through several mechanisms, including neurogenesis, mood enhancement, and endorphin release. Exercise has also shown to help with depression, sleep issues, and anxiety. Even a movement as simple and as moderate as a brisk walk can deliver an intense dose of mind-altering hormones to the brain.
Furthermore, many studies have shown that you can remain in this altered state for up to four hours. In another study, two groups were monitored closely. The first, a group of “exercisers”. The second group, for a lack of better words, we will call “medicated”. The exercisers showed improved memory, the ability to execute functions such as planning and organization, and managing multiple tasks.
When you look at it this way, exercise becomes far more important than what we understood it to be. The benefits gained from exercise donʼt just affect your physical health and appearance, but also your professional life, and mental sanity.
I remember when it dawned on me years ago. I would leave the gym, or walk away from my workouts feeling mentally stronger. It seemed the more consistently I trained, the stronger I became inside. This one particular day, a dark time in my life, I made myself train. I did not have one ounce of motivation, but I remember telling myself that I KNEW once I was done, I would at least feel good about the fact that I had exercised.
During that hour, as my blood started flowing, and heart started pounding harder, I went over things in my head. Things started to clear up. Where I had confusion, I was gaining clarity. By the time I was done, I knew exactly what I had to do. Maybe it was not an easy decision, but I knew now 100% what needed to be done, and nothing was going to stop me from following through, and all this from a workout? From that point on, if I had something I needed to give intense thought, I trained. If I was stressed, I trained. Exercise became my coping mechanism. In fact, I have struggled with depression my whole life. I find that I do better and I can stay on top of my emotions and feelings as long as I consistently exercise.
Many call me strong, determined, motivated, passionate, and full of fire. I know some of this is genetic, but I wonder if these traits are awakened and amplified by the training. There is only one way to find out, try it out and tell me about it. You may not end up with the fire that runs through my veins, but I guarantee that you will feel better.