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Finding A Healthy Relationship With Exercise

Last year I realised exercise is more important in my life than I knew.

It's not because I am trying to get fitter, become stronger or perform better in sports.

See I felt it was always easy to train over the years as I always had a motivating factor, sports.

Want to play at the highest level you are capable of, then walk the talk.

Train harder, more often and there are noticeable improvements in sporting performance.

Last year just before I realised the primary importance of exercise in my life there was no sport.

One of the first times in my life I had nothing in the way of sport for the coming months.

At the time I had to reconsider what exercise was for in my life.

Remove sport, remove motivation.

Of course there was next year to look forward, there’s always next year apparently.

My headspace at the time didn’t allow me to look forward that far.

So I did the thing that made most sense to me at the time, I did nothing.

At the time when my health was in one of the worst conditions of my life, I chose to do nothing.

It’s the period of my life when I understood what I had heard and read in books.

We are irrational beings, what seems sensible is often what is not done.

Wouldn't economics make a lot more sense if it were based on how people actually behave, instead of how they should behave? - Dan Ariely

Like that person in our family who should be eating better, exercising or sorting things out in their lives.

It makes perfect sense to us that they need to do it so it must make perfect sense to them.

Only from their perspective, perfect sense is actually not doing it.

Two opposing views, who is right?

Imagine two people sitting in a room directly across from each other with a table separating them.

On the table there is one large single number facing each of them.

Sitting in the chair on the left it reads 6.

Sitting in the chair on the right it reads 9.

Who is right, 6 or 9?

Depends what chair, what perspective.

I learned recently that people act in the manner they act based on how they see things at that time.

Given what they feel and their experience they make the correct decision.

Of course given hindsight they may have chose a different option, but that hindsight is additional information, something not available in the moment of decision, if it was it wouldn’t exist and we would all be perfect.

Sitting in my house when I knew everything I needed to do to be healthier, I drew a blank.

Each thing we are exposed to is a stimulus, when we are healthy we process the stimuli and can return to baseline often.

Each return towards baseline provides a reset, so that we can be exposed to another set of stimuli and still remain under threshold.

What’s above threshold?

Symptoms of stress.

Anxiety, fatigue, injury, overwhelm and so on.

A negative feeling when something is out of balance, a cry for a return to baseline.

Slowly I had reached threshold, so many alarms along the way which weren’t dealt with along the way.

My main symptom at the time, overwhelm.

Overwhelm def; To feel strong emotion.

What emotion?

All of them, all the ones that make you feel bad anyway.

Which alarm do I deal with first, the one that set off the next one, that triggered the next.

Think back, which went off first?

Hello brain, can you help me find the alarm that I need to address so I can function in my life?

I am not sure if you noticed but it’s a shitstorm here and we are in it together.

What do you mean it’s my fault, now isn’t the time for pointing fingers, how does 50/50 sound?

Yes I know I haven’t listened to you for a while but can we just sort this out, actually if you could sort it out it would be great, I am tired.

Yes I realise things are under threat, that probably means you can hear the alarms too?

There’s a lot of them isn’t there.

What do you mean I have only three options, are you sure there isn’t more?

Fight, flight or freeze.

How about fun, festivities or food, they all start with Fs as well?

Ok it’s not that kind of game.

Are you sure that's the best you can do for me now?

Right that freeze sounds good right now, less effort anyways.

There was so much noise in my head that any added stimulus was avoided like the plague.

Exercise…… thanks I’m good for now.

Maybe tomorrow, when this internal stuff works itself out, until the alarms run out of batteries or something.

In the meantime please don’t ask me to deal with anything, yes that especially includes people.

Freeze felt good for a time, until it didn’t.

The internal noise didn’t fix itself.

The alarms still going off, I slowly took my hands from my ears, opened my eyes and uncurled from the foetal position.

It was time to sort this shit out.

At the time where to start was not important, starting was.

I didn't know what step, I just knew I had to step.

We see in order to move; we move in order to see. - William Gibson

A breakthrough of sorts, at least enough breathing space to see I needed to move.

Exercise was the first movement.

The thing I had done so often over the years became my best friend again.

Only the relationship had changed, consciously.

I wasn't doing this for the team, to reach my sporting potential or to win championship,

I was doing this for myself.

Each session completed were badges I could wear marking a return of self-respect and self-discipline.

Self-respect is a question of recognising that anything worth having has a price. - Joan Didion

Then there was the release.

Release of what?



Each movement allowed me to see things slightly differently, to show me the off switch on another alarm.

The realisation happened in one moment, tolerance of pain was reached.

If only the resultant work to do could happen so quickly.

Exercise allowed me to see a bit clearer, to see the next step at least.

Thinking back, (that hindsight again) it's why I have exercised all along but I hadn't realised.

Kicking a ball against a wall, hitting a punchbag in the shed(anger issues, confirmed), lifting weights or playing football.

There's a certain feeling I get when I exercise that is individual and only experienced, it's the kind of feeling that makes me return to it.

The more I do it the deeper relationship I have with it, it makes me feel better.

It's one of the things which increases my stress threshold and returns stress to baseline.

Lessening the chance of the stress threshold being reached, positive movement in two directions.

While I still play sport, my primary purpose when I exercise is for myself.

At a time when the Irish population are most susceptible and exposed to

imbalances in their health it does not seem a coincidence that there is a huge surge in gym and exercise classes attendance.

While the aesthetic appeal for a young man may seem the primary reason for lifting weights, maybe like me the primary reason remains unsaid or at least subconscious.

Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body. - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Healthy body, healthy mind, so they say.


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