In general things like exercise and meditation all seem like things one can do to cope with stress.  I remember some time back when I attended Depression support groups, the one thing everyone was in agreement about was that exercise helps with your mental and emotional health.  It all makes sense.  However, recently I’ve found that it can actually interfere with my emotional and mental well being.

Over the past few weeks, I had seriously ramped up my physical activity by running more regularly.  It got to the point I was running about 3 miles a day, and each day I challenged and pushed myself just to push a little harder.  When I felt fatigued, it was a satisfying feeling that I was reinvigorating my physical fitness level, making me healthier.  And I was more motivated and had more energy.  I could stay up past midnight and wake up at 5 AM and start running.  And each time I ran, I seemed noticeably faster, stronger and less fatigued.

But then I noticed that mid-day I would start to drag a bit, with this craving to start running again. I started to be less hungry and ate healthier and ate less.  Yet, my body weight stayed the same.  For a period of time I actually got this rush of a sensation that I was back in my 20’s and wanted my body to return to that same physically fit form.  I actually started to intentionally cut back on eating, even when I craved for some food.  And when I felt kind of stuck emotionally, just chomping on the bit to munch on some potato chips, I felt this edginess, this need to go out and run again and exhaust my new found energy.  But despite the fact I was controlling my eating and exercising a lot, my body weight remained the same.  My clothes were getting a bit looser, but my weight stayed the same.

My only conclusion was that I was starting to gain a bit of muscle mass while I was losing some fat mass so my weight remained the same, despite the fact I was getting leaner.  This probably meant that my testosterone levels were starting to go back up.

I’m a bit convinced that in my case where I went from very little to no exercise to a lot of exercise, was that my emotions were now on a bit of a steroidal high. I definitely felt this urge to start exercising more and start going to a gym and lifting weights to get back to this image of myself in my 20’s when I had a very satisfying muscular upper body with cut abdomens.  I recall that rush of muscular ego that was constantly thinking hard of ways to make myself look better or at least preserve how good I looked.  So it was as much of a compulsion as it was a high.

When athletes take steroids, it’s reported that their emotions can get edgy and irritable from a steroid rage.  And I now believe that my exercise translated into miny “roid” rages that amounted to me just being edgy and irritable, with a strong desire to push myself physically to feed my self-esteem and exhaust the edginess.

Exercise, especially with the intent of looking physically better, is just ego-driven.  And while it sort of nourishes your self esteem, it’s not sustainable.  No matter what you do or achieve physically it is not the same as just feeling total worth, no matter what.  This is unconditional self-esteem, unconditional self-love.  When your self-esteem and self-love is conditional then it’s ego.

When I try to sit or lie still and connect my heart to the Source, that is what it’s about to feel that self esteem and self love.  And if I’ve exercised strenuously earilier in the day, the “roid” edginess interferes with that connection.  To keep connected I just needed to let go and let the connection happen. Once I start feeling the “roid” edginess and ego the connection was real hard to make as I’d so much rather go out an run or achieve something.  In someways it was like the mini “roid” edginess was just an exercise addiction much like being a workaholic.

And in fact this past week I think I was definitely becoming a work-a-holic driven to accomplish things at work so that I could sit back, rest and smile at myself for accomplishing something and feeling valued for accomplishing this.  And once in that addictive cycle of needing to do more, it’s hard to connect, because connection is more about slowing down, and in fact being still so that you can just allow it to happen.

So this past week I had gotten so busy that my exercise completely stopped.  Then when the weekend finally hit I first initially found myself working a bit on the weekend, but then I thought about doing some running to clear things up.  But instead I elected to NOT run, despite being physically inactive.  I decided to just take time to slow down, eat more if I have to and be OK about it.  I decided to preserve the time and energy I would have invested into exercise into doing a bit of nothing and to get settled into meditating.  I even actually slowed down below the level of meditation by just staying still going limp and just being.

And so as a result I found the time and urge to write.  I found the urge to be and feel the child. I became more at ease, less tension, more restful and more satisfied with myself. I’ve come to accept and be proud of my lack of accomplishment, because I have invested and fulfilled myself in just being or doing what feels natural and at the same time fostering what will feel natural.

It’s all rather interesting that just a bit more than light to moderate exercise could actually be too much exercise.  In the end it is all about finding that right balance. In the end it’s all about constantly taking time to step back and see if you are able to just be and be OK with just being.

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