Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quitting the Gym to Relieve Stress

I am quitting the gym.  That doesn't sound right, does it?  To quit an activity that is rumored to offer health benefits, energy, and vitality.  Since I have some weight to lose, it's even more blasphemous.

The gym, though, has become a stressor in my life, and not a good one.

Stress is wreaking more havoc on my body in far greater ways than regular time at the gym might fix.

In the past two weeks, two different holistic medical practitioners have told me I am over-taxing my adrenal glands.  This is a controversial diagnosis, to be sure, but the basic gist is that perpetual stress causes the adrenal glands, producers of important hormones, to lose their efficacy   My allopathic doctor echoed the sentiment, without using the oft-argued term "Adrenal Fatigue", by asserting that my physical symptoms might all be related to stress: the unrelenting achilles tendon that has yet to heal after seven months, acid reflux, insomnia, exhaustion, forgetfulness, anxiety, even that stubborn weight that refuses to budge.

It would be convenient to blame the stress on homeschooling, but I don't think I can.  I doubt that sending the kids to school would make any difference, except in how the stress is manifested and expressed.  Instead of stressing over their schedules, I might stress over their grades.  I would replace over-volunteering in the homeschool community to over-volunteering at their schools.

See, I was born into stress.  My birth story involves my mom blacking out while driving herself to the hospital while my father was carousing with this girlfriend.  It was, in fact, that girlfriend who called my mother at the hospital to find out if I'd been born.  Clearly, their's was not a solid marriage.  The levels of stress in my childhood homes did not improve from there.

Now, I live in a lovely apartment, have a kind, attentive husband with a great job, three really fantastic children, an interesting, lively community, and renewed relationships with my lost family members.  Plus, I get to live in safety, with shelter, food, and regular medical care.  By definition, I should not be stressed.

The problem is that, like many Americans, I create stress.  It is what is most familiar to me.  It was the state of my birth and my childhood; it punctuated by young adult years, when I put myself through college and graduate school, estranged from my family and struggling for money.  I chose a career marred by stress, that of a pastor, and put so much into it that I was burned out within a few years.

This is what stress does: it burns a person out, even a person who finds it paradoxically comforting.  So I go through bursts of productivity, followed by periods where motivation is but a fleeting fantasy.

Now, any clever person would point out that exercise relieves stress and I would agree.  But not the at the gym.  The gym involves at least an extra hour total of travel and preparation/clean-up time (getting three kids ready to go, dropping them at Kids' Club, showering and changing, picking them up afterwards) plus the hour of exercise time.  With the recent significant price increases at our gym, skipping the gym to avoid the two hour time commitment would cause even more stress.

Therefore, as part of my new plan to divorce myself from my torrid relationship to my lifelong nemesis, stress, I am quitting the gym and opting to exercise at home during the winter and outdoors during the summer.  I may not get as strenuous a work-out on the wii or by dancing to 80's tunes in my living room, but my work-outs will be stress-free.

And that's a good start.


How To Get Ripped Fast said...

I must agree here. Sometimes, physical stress can take its toll to the gym goer. They need to rest as well and try something new like running.

Maia Dobson said...

I think working out is one way to relieve stress. I'm amazed because my son who is in a toddler gymnastics class says he becomes happy whenever he's in that class.

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