If you’re burned out after work, probably the hardest thing to do is exercise. You just feel so exhausted or bored or depressed, or any combination of the three, maybe to the point you perversely almost don’t want to feel better. Two or three hours of sleep would be nice, but you’re too frayed around the edges.
I know without any doubt exercise is the only way to get re-energized and get back my sense of well-being. It’s worked without fail for the last thirty-six years. Over and over again and still to this day I’m amazed at how I could feel so bad and thirty minutes later feel so good.
Even after all these years I sometimes think I’m too exhausted to exercise after work, at least on nights I do weights. But if it’s a hoop and jump night I don’t have a problem even though I’m no less “exhausted” because I know within a minute of starting I’ll begin to feel better. Tonight is an example. As I sit here typing this I feel great; refreshed and energized – otherwise, believe me, I would not be sitting here typing this, especially not on a Monday night.
It’s an indication of how special hooping and jumping are to me and how much fun that I’m ready and willing to start in spite of how I feel. When it comes to weights I sometimes do decide to blow it off, but usually within about half an hour I realize I don’t want to keep feeling like I do, so I go ahead and do the weights, and I feel good, and one part of my mind is amazed once again.
Why is it such an effort when I know it’s going to make me feel good? And why is it different for hooping and jumping than it is for doing weights or riding a stationary bike.
It’s such an effort because you can’t control how chemistry affects your thoughts and mood. If the chemical balance is off from a day of sedentary stress your thinking is impaired and you probably feel exhausted. It’s impossible to be in a good mood and even though you know it will make you feel better, it’s very difficult to force yourself to exercise, not least because even if you do it tonight you have to do it tomorrow night, and the next, and so on – your current mood makes that seem like an endless nightmare.
When I first tried to establish the habit of exercising after work every day, for about the first month, even though I knew very well that riding would make me feel better, I had to force myself to carry out the miniscule commitment I had made, to get on and just start, then quit whenever I wanted. Really perversely, I knew that once I got started I would keep going so I would actually end up exercising, which is what I didn’t want – I said it was perverse – that’s mood for you. But even though you can’t fight chemistry you can trick it. I would do some double-think and tell myself that today I actually was just too exhausted and so would stop after a few minutes. And then of course I would end up doing the whole ride and feeling good, and stupid for having doubted.
I’m telling you, it’s the blood chemistry. When you’re exhausted from a day of sedentary stress you’re just not thinking right and you’ll tell yourself anything to get out of any kind of effort. But if you do make the effort and keep it up day after day for a month or six weeks then if finally sinks in how good you actually could feel and will be feeling in a little while if you just do the workout so it’s not a big effort anymore; then it just becomes what you do. It sounds too good to be true, but I’ve benefited from it every day over all those years.
But the commitment to at least start every night is important. If I hadn’t made it then I wouldn’t have kept it up and I’d be in much poorer shape today and certainly fatter. If you want to start hooping and jumping then just commit to practicing a few minutes every night. Those are the only “exercises” I know that are actually fun, so of course that’s what I would do.
If you feel really awful or even semi-awful after work, think about it. Realistically, can exercising be any worse?