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Confessions of an endorphin-junkie, part 2

2 Jan

Of all the goals I had set for myself last year, fitness has been the one I have really stuck with in a determined, single-minded, focused way. And as is the case with anything you do repeatedly over a long period of time, it becomes easier, you get better and it becomes a part of you. Over the last 18 odd months, exercise has become my friendly me-time. That one hour that I dedicate to shutting the world out and being with myself for a bit. Given the energetic nature of most of the activities I chose, one would assume it would result in a hyper, wound-up and always wired existence, but my experience has been quite the opposite. Yes, there has been a tremendous boost in my overall energy levels, but it has been a good, channeled sort of energy that mostly gives me the strength to get through long days without feeling exhausted, given me the best sleep I have had in a long, long time and has created this aura of healthy, happy vibes that floats around me.

After a few months of running and then another few months of doing some Jillian Michaels home workouts, I discovered Zumba at Studio 101, in Panjim (check out their fb page too). I was addicted in no time at all. What seemed like a dancercise-y, groovy form of light exercise on the outside and for the first few classes, slowly began to kick my ass, with harder moves, faster beats, longer sessions without breaks and I realised it is the most aerobic I have been in a while. Soon after, I signed up for Body Pump classes, on alternate days to the Zumba lessons. The combination has changed my life.

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– Zumba gives me a good, hard cardio fix, without the boredom of running on a treadmill, cycling away or working the elliptical, which frankly I find mindnumbingly boring now that I have tasted the fun that Zumba has to offer. I like that I can dance hard and have fun for a whole hour, and come out drenched in sweat like I’ve killed myself at the gym.

– It’s shred the inches faster than running or working out at home did for me. I felt leaner in just a couple of weeks, but that could just have been my body responding to a change in the routine it had probably gotten previously accustomed to.

– Throwing in a good weights program thanks to Body Pump helped further tone my body. I felt dramatic results in just 2-3 weeks. I was never a big believer in weights, and had the preconceived notion that weights are for people who want to bulk up. But I now know and believe that complementing cardio with light-moderate weights has accelerated my inch-loss.

– Weight wise I have knocked down about 4 kilos in the last 6 months, but that was never a major point of worry for me. I was far from overweight, but I felt dangerously heavy and lethargic when I first started. Now, even thought the weight-loss seems to have plateaued, I can feel myself get lighter and more energetic with every session.

– I definitely feel stronger and it takes me by surprise every now and then, in instances when I surprise myself by doing something unexpected. Like taking my monthly groceries back home from the car in one shot, rather than making 2-3 trips with smaller batches. Like when I carry a heavy suitcase with easy. Like when I my arms seem to now quite easily carry double the weight I started off with two months ago.

– Regular has made me healthier. I haven’t had any major illnesses in the last 6-8 months, barring a mild flu that I knocked out of my system by continuing to work out through it. I think I might have also almost kicked PMS out of my life for good because I no longer roam around feeling like a blimp, on the verge-of-tears, for a whole week before I get my period. I am down to a small acne attack, and a dull low-back pain that strikes, and works as the only indicator that maybe my period is on its way. I hope that if I keep this up I can eliminate cramps out of my life too, which are now almost completely gone, save for the aches and pains on day 1.

– Working out 5 times a week, come what may has improved my endorphin levels. And we all know what that means. More happiness, more elation, more contentment. And too much of that is never a bad thing. I have started to sleep soundly, waking up energetic and beaming, much to VCs displeasure, because it makes me extra chirpy and chatty (read: annoying), when he is groggily surfacing at his own pace.

Zumba and Body Pump are two the most wonderful discoveries I made this year. And sticking with the routine for close to 6 months now has been one of the best gifts I have given myself in recent times. It’s taught me a thing or two about myself and my body. It’s given me a renewed energy and zest for life, which has done me worlds of good, far beyond what fitting into skinny jeans could ever do for me. It’s made me very aware of what my body is capable of.

I realise I can train my body to do what I want it to, rather than be at its mercy. I know that half the battle with sticking with any form of fitness is in the mind. I have willed myself to do things I didn’t want to. Sweating it out 5 times a week has made me more in tune with the workings of my body, which is why I think I could rest and recover from the ankle injury much faster than I otherwise would have.

But sometimes, the very thing that brings you closer and in tune with yourself, shatters that cocoon of familiarity to smithereens, and teaches you a thing or two about yourself. So there I am, treading my way down the straight and narrow, with measured strides, a bounce in my step, and suddenly there’s a little change in the routine — a new song, 2 kgs more than the weights I am used to, an extra set of reps, and quickly I find myself spiralling out, towards the dreaded zone of unfamiliarity, from where I have to work myself back. So often, I’ve seen that the very thing that becomes a matter of habit and routine, suddenly unravels completely, and opens the door to something new and challenging. Zumba and Body Pump have made me look forward to that shaking-things-up-a-little every now and then and look forward to the next challenge.

This is what going to the gym has become for me. Every time I feel like I have found my rhythm, I am pushed to take it up a notch and raise the bar for myself. Every time that I feel I have accomplished something, reached a milestone, there is a new one to strive for. Like graduating ever so slowly from 3kg weights to 4, then 5, and just when that’s getting easy and I’m feeling like Superman, my instructor gently pushes the 7.5s towards me.

The nicest part of all of this, is that I have learned the slow and steady way to make my body cooperate, listen and just go with the flow or everything I am subjecting myself to. I think I might have accidentally unlocked some hidden reserves of energy I didn’t know I had. It’s feels a bit like an OOBE in progress. When the going gets tough, I feel a part of me slip out of the body thats ab-crunching, knee-high-ing or squatting, hovers close to the ceiling and watches the body doing it all below, in sheer shock. There is a moment when I feel my body thrust into overdrive, beyond which everything is a blur. In that moment I don’t really know where the sudden boost of energy comes from. But it pushes me right to the end, at just that point when I can feel myself flagging and about to give up. For those few minutes, I feel like I have unknowingly handed over control to a side of me I didn’t know existed. She has a mind of her own, she’s addicted to endorphins and she does not stop. It is frightening, exhilarating and awesome, all at once.

Then there is the pain. Not the unbearable kind that most of us can do without. But sweet, sweet pain. The kind that masochists like me cannot do without. The sweet pain that you feel every morning, it comes from working out every single day, stretching muscles, pushing yourself, pumping a little iron, tearing and repairing parts of your body and forcing them to do things you didn’t think were possible. That is an addictive kind of pain. It leaves you begging for more. It makes you wake up, stretch and go owwww. Yet, in the very next moment you put your track-pants on and head straight back to the gym for another dose because without it, your day feels utterly wasted and incomplete.

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26 Responses to “Confessions of an endorphin-junkie, part 2”

  1. Santulan January 2, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    I joined a gym more than 2 years ago. For the few weeks that I was there, I didn’t lose any weight.. But my energy levels shot up. Week on week, I could spend more time of the treadmill/elliptical with lesser strain and sweat. I had to leave it due to a temporary work commitment, but have not been able to join again on account of being a lazy ass.

    • hAAthi January 3, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      Weight loss always happens last in my experience, while loss of inches and muscle tone happens much faster, so persistence is key :P And I have that starting trouble too. I almost fear taking a break from the gym because I know what a tough task it will be to get back, on account of being a lazy ass :P but once I get going I am usually regular. Its the beginnings few days that is the hardest, once youre past that you usually find that sweet spot.

  2. Sanjana January 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    I would not have gone running today if I hadn’t read this post. So, thank you! thank you very very very much! :)
    I got back from my first run of the year, first of many many more, masha allah! :D

    • hAAthi January 3, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Thats awesome.. Heres wishing you a healthier, fitter 2014!

      • Sanjana January 3, 2014 at 11:56 am #

        thank you! You too! :)

  3. Bubblegum January 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    Oh my god! I am getting inspired like never before!! Never heard of Bodybump before!

  4. sukanyabora January 3, 2014 at 3:42 am #

    And here I am, a flaming sloth, who looks for any excuse to avoid exercising:-(
    Good for you!

    • hAAthi January 3, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      Maybe you dont *need* to exercise :P

      • sukanyabora January 4, 2014 at 12:45 am #

        Everybody needs to including a rail thin person…just to be fit and healthy. Despite getting this-I don’t! How pathetic is that?

  5. mostlymisfit January 3, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I’m doubly inspired to work out regularly now. Its one of my resolutions anyway, but a sedentary office life and frustrations at work leave me with no motivation to even move off the couch once I am home. But I always feel energized on the days that I work out compared to the days I decide to be a couch potato.

    I have always worked out on and off. But the thing I’ve liked best always is running. Which I can barely do in Bangalore where there isn’t a park close to where I stay. Have been sticking to jillian michael’s 30 day shred. Only havent managed 30 days even in the last 180 days. :P Will try zumba though. I work out better if there is someone who’d push me to lift the extra weight or give 2 more squats.

    • hAAthi January 3, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      While I have always been slightly anal about working out regularly, this level of seriousness only was possible after I quit my fulltime job. I hear you about no motivation and energy at the end of a work day.. I was addicted to running until I injured my knees and some sense prevailed, I now have slightly altered feelings about running :)

      The 30 day shred works wonders if done at least 5-6 times a week, with some form of diet control.. Ive had good results with it, in the past. But the recent ZUmba and Body Pump discoveries have made me see that I am a group class person, it keeps me going and pumps me with energy..

      • Bubblegum January 3, 2014 at 11:25 am #

        I could not complete 30 days shred on first day. I could not walk properly on second day. I left it. How come people finish it??? :'(

        • hAAthi January 3, 2014 at 11:27 am #

          Its not a good workout to begin with if you have done no exercise prior to it. It is usually recommended for people who are in some kind of form or used to physical activity of some sort. Also, when I did it, I cheated a little and did 2 weeks of each level before I graduated to the next. So my 30-day shred was actually much longer than usual.

      • mostlymisfit January 3, 2014 at 11:45 am #

        I need to check what body pump is. Sounds fun. Well no…sounds effective more than fun.

        I have also tried 6 weeks-6 pack so somehting with a similar name. God! That was pretty intense. I like workouts to be a bit more fast paced than that. Even 30 day shred I’ve only always done level 1. :P

  6. Aathira January 3, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    I love that owww pain and that is what I want to get back to. I have not been at it for 3 months now, and I so miss it :)

  7. anita January 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Feeling totally inspired!

    • hAAthi January 15, 2014 at 11:16 am #

      Go, you! Im always happy to pass the endorphin bug around :P

  8. vishalbheeroo January 8, 2014 at 12:42 am #

    Don’t they say that exercise leads to an active and healthy mind, body and soul. That’s good that you exercising and it pushes you to the edge. I’ve been lazy for quite some time, except for my yoga classes which is really helpful. I really need to take the plunge and join the gym, which has so far eluding me,
    Cheerz

  9. arundati January 15, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    damn! this post is making me miss my gym routine all the more… its been four months now.. i cannt even think when i will start again. So proud that you have stuck with it and so jealous of your fitness… yeah am shallow like that

    • hAAthi January 15, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      Tis okay, you have had legit reasons for taking a break. Caring for doggie, baking classes, holiday season and then being sick and all, means you have a good reason to resume when you’re better. Im footloose for the most part, in that I don’t have anyone/anything depending on my time, so it is easier to stick to the routine. I have failed miserably when I had a full time job and other preoccupations.. Im sure when you get back it will be in full swing!

      • arundati January 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

        thoo, one comment also I cannot write with proper punctuation and proper spellings! cheche! yeah I hope to go back soonest. In the meanwhile, I am imagining holding plank for 3 minutes and feeling all super about it… and weights! am telling you lean and mean and I can carry my own shopping bags like a ninja is a great feeling!

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