My take on exercise (Part II)

On Fridays I will choose a topic on which to give my take. Take being a nice word for opinion. I will simply share my thoughts on whatever random topic comes to mind. I look forward to seeing where this section leads us.

Last week I wrote about how exercise likely kept me from having an episode in high school, but exercise has also been an integral part of my life since my diagnosis. 

At first, while I was still recovering, I could not handle exercising at all. I wanted to very badly, but I became bored too quickly. I could not stay on task long enough to complete a solid workout.

I tried running with my dad a few times, but I’d always end up running home after ten minutes or less. Workout videos were equally off limits; they took to long to set up, and I’d get distracted before they started.

I went back to school in the spring of 2012. I lived on campus, and my first couple of semesters I did not sleep well. I had to take sleep medicine on top of my other crazy pills, which left me groggy until about noon the next day.

I eventually noticed I had gained about fifteen pounds, which spurred me to start exercising again. I woke up early and did my Insanity: Asylum workouts. I discovered exercising in the morning helped me overcome the grogginess a bit faster. It didn’t help my sleep, but it at least helped me wake up. I slowly started losing weight.

I struggled with sleep until one night, I realized how blessedly tired I was after an intramural basketball game. I took a shower and went to bed without taking my sleep medicine. Wonder of wonders! I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and got a solid eight hours of sleep. I woke up before my alarm and there was no sense of grogginess.

What a happy discovery this was! After that night, I took to running up and down the stairs in my four-story dormitory. I’d do that for a little over 15 minutes, and then I would do some push-ups or abs in my room. It did the trick every night, and I no longer struggled with sleep.

I got down to my normal weight at some point, thanks to my two-a-days. I started taking sleep for granted again, just like I did in high school, but I worked hard for my good sleep. 

Whatever the reason, not being able to sleep has to be one of the most hellacious things a person can endure. It is especially scary for me because of what can happen to my brain chemistry if I don’t get adequate sleep (just ask anyone who has interacted with me after a bad night).

My exercise routine gives me a good giggle when I visit my psychiatrist. He always asks me if I’m still exercising, and I always tell him yes. He says that’s good and not to exercise less than four hours before I go to bed. In my head I wink and say, “Right. Whatever you say doc.” In reality I nod and go along with it. My evening workout is the last thing I do before I go to bed. What do doctors know, anyway?

Obviously exercise is good for everyone, and I think it’s important for people of all ages to get adequate amounts, but I feel like I have an intimate relationship with it because of how much it effects my moods and brain chemistry. My journey with exercise has been a blessed one, and I’m so glad I have something besides medicine that can help keep me in balance.

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