Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exercise and Emotion

The long weekend was, on the one hand, restful and relaxing.  We spent a lot of time together, made some progress on some major household projects, and saw a number of good friends.  On the other hand, I was enjoying myself so much, and busy so often, that by the time the evening rolled around I was too pooped to post.

This little break from the blog gave me a reason to look back a bit.  Not just over the past few un-journaled days, but a bit farther into the recent past as well.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my progress on this journey.  My goal of getting down to 215lbs by the end of August is achievable.  I'm using an Excel spreadsheet to track my poundage, and I'm below the line I need to hit to make the goal.  So, I'm still not a big fan of the man in the mirror, but I'm heading in the right direction, at a safe and sustainable pace.

My eating habits have changed quite a bit.  The cravings have subsided, for the most part.  Today was a stressful day, and I certainly felt like hitting the vending machine for a blast of caffeine and/or chocolate.  But that urge was easily controlled.  I'd really rather eat an apple or a carrot than drink a soda these days.

I'm finding exercise fun, too.  I've had quite a lot of it over the past week, and I find myself looking forward to the next workout or walk.  My exercise schedule tends to focus the biggest effort near and through the end of the week.  Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays seem, by contrast, a little sluggish.  I think I might be reaching that state of exercise addiction one of you mentioned in the comments.

I'm noticing something interesting.  Exercise, for me, raises my emotions much closer to the surface than they normally are.  When I go for a walk and my mind is peaceful, I notice the birds, the wind and the sky.  That peace is amplified while I'm walking.  When my mind is troubled or stresses run high, I feel those stresses more intensely while I'm out there.

My Ashtanga yoga practice, in particular, seems to intensify my emotions.  Frequently, in the space of one practice session, I ride a roller coaster.  I can pass through troughs of frustration and depression, climb hills of elation and accomplishment, or surf the wave and find peace all in the same hour.  In part because my belly is still large and getting in my way, and in part because it's an intense class, I find that I usually feel a little depressed and sad after my class.  That feeling passes quickly, and I still very much enjoy the workout itself.  When I find I can do something I couldn't do before, or go deeper into a stretch than ever, the highs are very high.  But the lows are low indeed.

To be honest, I've remained skeptical of the more mystical claims one sometimes reads in association with yoga, meditation and similar practices.  But there's something there.  Something about an intense yoga workout seems to open up my floodgates in ways other exercise hasn't.

I went to my Anusara yoga class this morning.  The vibe is completely different in this "restorative" class.  The emphasis is on peace, tranquility, and stretches designed to loosen and limber.  The class is full of friends, all there for those same things.  I leave this class feeling friendship, peace, and relaxation.   On the other hand, I never work up a sweat or feel sore after these classes.

I'm really enjoying learning more about myself as I pay attention to how different kinds of exercise challenge me, and open up my body and my mind.

No food log today.  I ate well today, and for the past few days.  I've had some victories, resisting temptation and sticking to my food principles.  And I've indulged myself a couple of times.  But I'm feeling good, and making progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment