Monday, June 30, 2014

Weight loss project: My engine wouldn't stop revving after a workout

I thought that I'd mention a workout related challenge I faced in case others have experienced it. This past winter I started a gym routine after years of dabbling and not really establishing it with any regularity. After a few months I noticed that I had become very speedy and irritable; my husband pointed this out to me. My thoughts and actions were much faster, and I was stressing out about my To Do list more than I had in years. It was if the workouts caused my internal, emotional engine to rev high and get stuck in over drive.

This felt so unfair! I was getting into better physical shape than I'd been in for years, yet my emotional life was taking a hit.

I noticed one pattern: I was more irritable after weight training than on days when I limited my exercise to aerobics. I thought that one culprit might be an uptick in that ole devil testosterone. However I'm 53, and I'm sure I'm not producing testosterone at the same rate as I did decades earlier. After I noticed, I made sure not to overdo it with the weight lifting (avoid lifting two days in a row, avoid lifting more than three days a week).

I also noticed that the Engine Revving feeling was very similar to how I felt in my youth. Back then my mind used to race, I was prone to worry, and my digestive system was frequently off, which was all very similar to what I was now experiencing; I used to be the kind of guy whose knee bounced rapidly and nervously whenever I was sitting down. Perhaps entering into an intense workout regime triggered me, and I reverted to how I was the last time I was very athletically active, which would be in my younger, less-wise days.

Finally, I experimented with a few things to get my internal engine back to its normal speed. For example, mainly as a way to settle myself before doing life & career coaching with clients, I'd think meditatively, slow...patience, compassion! This helped me to enter into more of a slower, listening mode. However my overall speediness continued during times when I wasn't working.

Eventually I stumbled upon a meditation that worked much better. When I'd think meditatively, I'm WILLING!, my whole body would relax, I'd instantly feel more peaceful, and my thinking and actions slowed down considerably. 

One of the ideas behind being willing as opposed to being willful is to avoid pushing; when I was worried and rushing, I was trying to push past what I was doing in the present moment and attempting to rush on to the next item on my agenda. My saying that I was willing was a powerful reminder to relax, to flow with the way things were right in that moment, to cooperate with the situation, and to focus on doing what would work best right then instead of worrying about what was coming next. For me, focusing on being willing was like taking a fast-acting Chill Pill. 

Finally I found that taking a time out slowed down my internal motor. I took a ten-day vacation in Florida, spending a lot of time floating in the pool and napping.

When I returned from vacation, I felt the Revving Engine on my first day back at work, but I haven't felt it since. Occasionally when I notice myself mentally and emotionally trying to push through and past a situation, I think, I'm willing, and I relax into the moment and calm right down.

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