Monday, January 30, 2012

Use it, or Lose it or Set Yourself on Fire (Also: I Know Why You Should Go to the Gym)

Ok, maybe not necessarily a gym. It can be anywhere doing anything that gets your heart rate up, makes you sweaty, and forces you to use your muscles for at least an hour a day.

Get your minds out of the gutter. I know what some of you are thinking- though, I'm sure that can count too.

What's the point of this? Activity. Everything that lives is either in a state of growth or decay-- that includes us. All of us- our entire being- our bodies, minds, hearts.... If we are not intentionally moving, progressing, and teaching ourselves to grow, we are naturally going to default into decay. Sucks, doesn't it? Why can't it be the other way around? The answer doesn't really matter here because it is what it is, and either we accept the challenge to grow, or we decay inside ourselves. 

Aside from the physical aesthetics that result from being active and eating well, and more importantly, are the effects activity has on our brain chemistry. Life can leave us feeling broken, helpless, and completely defeated, but the good news? We don't have to be any of that. From the book Younger Next Year, "Remember always that exercise and mood share the same chemistry. They work on each other and through each other." When you feel like shit and the world seems to be caving in on you- go take a walk. I'm not saying you have to be an all star athlete- just go move. DO something. Don't hide away like an ostrich. Show up and live your life.

Our activity levels directly affect our moods and how we perceive life and its challenges. Imagine how you've felt after a great walk, hike, training session, climb, surf, whatever it is that gets you going- you feel excited, empowered, motivated, on fire and downright high. Your mind feels clearer, and even though what was stressing you out before you started hasn't necessarily changed, you have a more rational outlook on the situation.

What brought this all up? Today at lunch I decided to go to the gym to get away from my cube. As I went on my first run in months, I remembered why I started working out when I was 17. Because it helped me transition from really destructive coping mechanisms into productive ones, and also physically manifested some of the battles I had in my head into a form that I could watch myself work through in the course of an hour or three. Is an hour of running or weight lifting the same as dealing with losing something important, heart break, or daily chronic stress? No, but the mentality I developed through those hours translated into the ability to live the rest of my life with strength, courage, and persaverance. I taught myself how to deal with discomfort and pain by gritting my teeth, looking myself in the eyes and saying, "This is horribly uncomfortable, actually, it downright sucks, but it's not going to last forever. Remember the big picture- it's not going to last forever. You have to push through this- you're going to be stronger when it's over. Just don't stop now. Why would you stop?"

Why would you stop? The golden question I ask myself in so many situations. Why would you stop? If I don't have a good reason, I keep going. 

I have spent a lot of years struggling on my own to make some sort of sense out of my life, but I realized it's not about necessarily about figuring out the meaning of life. It's about taking whatever comes your way, no matter what it is, and doing the best you can to grow. In this life you have to have a lot of heart, and fire in your blood to make it through. Don't succumb to decay. GROW.


  1. I agree it and it isn't limited to physical growth but mental growth as well. I was just reading an article that started that the brains ability to learn new things stops somewhere in your 30's. I hope people don't buy into that. Many people experience incredible growth and learning much later in life than that. Like you said the key is not to stop and also to not listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do something!

    1. Oh my gosh. I hope people don't buy that either. It's just a cheap excuse to not change or work on things. Science has shown huge boundary breakers in the realm of neuroplasticity. Just like our muscles can continue to grow well into later years, so can our minds. Part of the beauty of being human is that we can choose to grow in every area of out lives on so many levels.