I've been a bit of happiness junkie lately as I simultaneously read a chapter a month of Gretchin Rubin's books, and . If you're concerned that I am unhappy, rest assured, that is not the case. I think happy people are happy-seeking people.
So all this got me thinking: Fitness make me happy. How can I make myself happier with my fitness?
Two elements make an impact on how happy I am after working out.
1) What I do.
2) How often I do it.
As for what I do for fitness, until last fall when I was down and out with my back/butt/hip issue I never thought there was something I couldn't do. What's more, thinking of myself as a runner who wasn't able to run, took a direct hit on my happiness.
When January rolled around, it seemed like the right time to start introducing myself to new ways to workout (especially in light of the fact I still wasn't able to run).
This turned out to be a smart move according to what I read in the Happiness Project this weekend. On page 78 it says
Research shows that the more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.
As of January I have tried Tai Chi, taken my kids to a trampoline park and took a complimentary 30-minute pilates session.
I really like Tai Chi, however finding classes near me at convenient times is proving difficult. Just when I was ready to give up, I got an email asking if I'd like a publicity copy of a forthcoming book: . Remember how last week I told you I was a ? I considered replying to the email and asking, "What? Did God tell you I need this book?"
The experiment at the trampoline park was an exercise in pelvic floor strength to the point of crossing my eyes out of my ears. Bottom line: Not my thing.
Pilates I have tried before, but at the time it just didn't click with me. Maybe, like a child trying new foods it's always best to try a workout more than once. (Which suggests I should not give up on the trampoline park too soon). So I tried Pilates again last week. It's no Cross Fit. But considering I am still healing and not feeling up to throwing barbells around, I decided to buy four sessions. How many times do you need to introduce a new food to a child before they will agree to eat it?
The other new activity I've tried is Yin Yoga. Technically, yoga isn't new, but I had never tried that particular class before. I'm in love. Yin Yoga definitely makes me happy.
There was part of me that questioned whether I (the one with Fitness ADD) should add more fitness options to my life. Would this make me feel more stressed when it came time to choose a workout? My question was answered while reading Happier at Home, on page 196
The brain gets a bigger thrill when some little treat comes as a surprise, whether it's a dollar found in the street, a free cookie sample, a gift for no reason, or an unexpected compliment from a boss. Not only do we feel happier, but those little boosts of happiness also make us temporarily smarter, friendlier, and more productive.
I decided that maybe these little "fitness surprises" would further boost my fitness-enduced happiness in the same way. I'd say that 30-minute complimentary yoga session was even better than a free-cookie sample.
Now for "how much" exercise gives me the most happiness. I know people who truly need exercise everyday to keep their endorphins at an adequate level. For others (like me) finding time to work out every day can add stress. Like the guidelines recommend, I aim for an hour of activity most days of the week. But when I read the New York Times article: Why Four Workouts a Week May Be Better than Six, I decided to give it a shot. What I learned was that, intuitively, that's what I tend to do anyway, but now I let myself off the hook for the other two days I'd feel guilty about skipping, or the stress I'd add on trying to figure out how to squeeze it in.
Since the snow doesn't look like it will let up any time soon around here I'm hoping to try skate skiing this winter. Also on the list: a Bar Method class and a Hula Hoop class.