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Strengthening My Mood

I made good on my goal of re-focusing on toning my core and arms yesterday.  I was able to get down to the office gym for an early afternoon break and, after a ten minute treadmill walking warm up, was able to do this circuit three times:

– 1:00 plank
– 5 push-ups
– :30 side plank
– 5 push-ups
– :30 side plank (opposite side, of course)
– 5 push-ups
– 10 bicep curls with 10lbs. free weights

Not the most challenging routine, but I wanted something to ease myself back into the swing of things.  Even this easy and somewhat quick (35 minutes in all) burst of activity brought back all the positive attributes of my mid-day strength training habit and reminded why I really need to be disciplined about doing it regularly.

Forget all the benefits about building muscle tone- there are plenty, but you don’t usually realize those immediately following a work-out.

For me, it’s all about instant gratification (a favorite phrase of mine).

I love the energy boost I get for the remainder of the afternoon.  Getting up as early as I do, I tend to have a serious dip in the afternoon. Before I started exercising regularly last year, I was pretty much guaranteed to have my head on my desk for a quick power nap each afternoon.  That is far less frequent now.

I get tell-tale sleep lines on my face like a little kid, so it's good I've figured out how to avert these situations.

I have noticed its return, however, these last couple of weeks as I have had to sacrifice my afternoon gym time for more pressing work obligations.  I don’t feel guilty because I almost always have already done some good cardio in the morning.  But I do feel lethargic, and by the time I get home I have been even more spent than usual.

Yesterday, I felt the familiar surge of energy come back after my brief routine.  Strength training is the only thing I’ve found that works too.  Sometimes I’ll skip it in favor of a walk outside if it’s nice out.  That has its own benefits, but it never wakes me up the way strength training does mid-day.  Maybe it’s because I do cardio first thing in the morning, I’m not sure.

The other MAJOR perk is, at least for me, I find strength training really tames my appetite.  Once I started integrating weights into my daily rotation, I noticed that I didn’t need as many snacks throughout the day.  I (almost) always eat healthy snacks, but I used to eat more than was probably necessary because I was hungry a lot.  That’s less now, and again I noticed a huge difference this afternoon.  I have been hungrier than usual for a few weeks, and especially these last few days.  Clearly my lost appetite after my half has returned with vengeance.  Spinning seemed to anger it more.  This morning I was really ravenous.  But then, after my re-appearance at the gym, my belly seems to be back to normal.  Still hungry on a fairly regular schedule, but not ravenous.  And I only needed an apple as a late afternoon snack before heading home for dinner.  That’s a huge relief.

The long-term benefits of strength training- stronger bones, burn more calories, better overall fitness- are major incentives for me to do it.  But often the instantaneous gratification of a weight session is what actually gets me down to the gym.  I’ve gotta keep this in mind next time I’m thinking of skipping!

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