We all know sex (which plays into family) and food bring about the most pleasure in life. But how else do we activate that “feel good” part of the brain?
I’d much rather be strung out on a natural high than in the slumps so I guess the real question is how do we hold onto this feeling all day long?
Exercise doesn’t have to be grueling. Sure it’s taxing on the body, but in the process you’re releasing endorphins, which is what really keeps you coming back for more. Trust me on this, if there was no upheaval of positive stimulation most of us wouldn’t turn to exercise as a stress-reliever. But some exercises are more emotionally satisfying than others.
Here are my top 3 picks for the most pleasurable workouts.
1. Running always carries me through the day. It gives me that surge of energy that I tend to be lacking towards the latter part of the afternoon. I love it especially because I don’t have to really concentrate on anything. My mind drifts astray and I become more in tune with my senses soaking in the sounds, scents and sights that quickly wisp by me. What am I thinking about? Everything and anything. My mind has a tendency to jump around alot because I don’t have any one thing holding my attention, which is why I find I can get lost in myself while running. It’s the most liberating feeling to me.
2. A lot of people think stretching is over-rated. I would argue differently. Stretching is my favorite part of the workout, especially when it’s partner-assisted because than someone else is doing all the work. I envy my clients who get the privilege of having me stretch them for the last 10 minutes of every workout. Do you consider stretching part of exercise? I absolutely do. Having flexibility and range of motion falls right in there along side strength and endurance. If you don’t take the time to stretch adequately after every workout and sometimes even before you will eventually wreak havoc on your body! Take it as my lesson learned.
3. Core work gives me pleasure because I thrive on the occasional burning sensation. It makes me feel like I’m actually doing something. My favorite place to target in my workout is my abs because I see the results the quickest especially when working out my oblique. The next day it usually kills to rest my hands on my boyish hips. So I would say my favorite move here would be oblique twists from the elbow plank position.
4. I know I said three, but I just had to throw in this fourth because I wouldn’t be me without acknowledging my love for adventure sports. I find pleasure in staring fear in the eye so things like rock climbing, wake boarding and skiing amuse me. Yes, I realize this one especially is not for everyone, which is why I stressed the I.
Ok so we’ve eaten, we’ve beat our bodies up and tickled our fancy now what are we left with?
Here’s my favorite.
Find more reasons to laugh out loud at yourself. We have a tendency to take ourselves way to seriously. We part our hair in the exact same place everyday, wear matching socks, take the same route every morning and usually nag and gossip about the same nonsense all the time.
Try caring less.
Here’s how you do it.
1. Be your natural born self. If you have a natural kink or a curl in your hair let it go there. Unplug the curling iron and leave your hair pin straight if that’s how it is naturally. Walk out of the house with a clean face. It’s so great when you can run your fingers across your cheeks or rub your eyes without having to worry about messing up your make-up. Stop trying to be someone your not with the push-up bras and body shaping underwear. Just be you!
2. Hand the reins over to someone else. Get out of the mindset of being a “control freak” where everything has to be in the exact place where you left it. I know I’m speaking to lots of parents out there who drive their kids mad with this one. Sometimes it’s good to come home to a messy house because that’s what makes a house a home. If your husband forgot to pick up the dry-cleaning AGAIN just quietly nod and say “it’s ok.” Because really if it’s not life-threatening it is ok.
3. Don’t over-censor yourself. We are constantly obsessing over what people think of us with the way we word things and how sensitive we come across towards other people’s feelings. Bottom line, you are entitled to your own feelings and opinions. This doesn’t mean you go around blurting it out to every Tom Dick and Jerry. But, also don’t “sugar coat” it. Be real. People like authentic people. If someone asks for your honest opinion say it like it is. But this also means be open with what other people say and think of you. Don’t take everything so personally because we all know by now we can’t please everyone. As long as you are true to yourself that is enough.
4. Compliment others more. It always feels good to make someone’s day just a light bit brighter.
About the author: Noelle McKenzie of Fitness A Way Of Life, an independent in-home personal training business based in NYC, has a healthy living blog where she shares free quick, but effective workout videos, tips on nutrition and exercise and personal advice. Noelle is an ambassador for Fitfluential, Sweat Pink and ActivewearUSA. You can also connect with her on Youtube Facebook, Twitter.