Posted on November 13, 2018
by Steve Janowick

It was Tuesday morning.

Pull day.  I had developed this push/pull/leg split routine a month prior and was headed to my gym to show those 45-pound iron plates who their boss was.  But something was a little off. Something inside me just wasn’t feeling it. I had gone the entire month without missing a scheduled workout, but today, I felt a slight tug of apprehension, and it got worse as I got closer.  “Here we go again”, I actually mumbled to myself. And, by the time I parked the car, that apprehension had evolved into full-blown dread at the thought of going into that gym. Physically, I felt kind of blah, nothing too unusual though, and certainly not enough to skip the workout. Mentally and emotionally I was okay I thought, at least before I got in the car.

So, what was the deal?  Why all the sudden this internal battle?  I knew if I didn’t get my ass in there, and at least give it a shot, I’d regret it and would be riddled with disappointment in myself and even anger.  I knew it would set the tone for a horrible day. A day in which I’d question my fortitude and will to be the best man I could be. A day that would be filled with reminders of how I was weak and how I gave in to that weakness.  Of how I could possibly jeopardize all the hard work and dedication up to this point. By skipping this workout, I would open the floodgates to all the negative thoughts that I was able to keep in check and dormant for a good while now.  “You can do this! Get in there!”, I proclaimed to myself as I pounded the steering wheel.

But seven seconds later my car was in reverse and I was on my way back home.

This ugly pattern that had plagued my life for the last decade was rearing its ugly head again.  It was coming on me like a slow-growing wave moving to shore. I imagined this tiny, man-looking, bug nestled in the folds of my brain, sinisterly laughing as he trips the wires in my cortex one by one.  Anticipating the moment that his end-game was complete-a full-on relapse of the depression I’d been battling lately in my life.

But I was prepared.  I was ready for a fight.

I immediately turned off the talk radio and turned on my iPhone music, and let it come loudly through the speakers of the car.  I put on some James Brown and let The Godfather of Soul do his thing. He began to wreak havoc on that bug in my brain. I started to immediately feel my endorphins firing and my mood becoming more positive.  I rolled down the windows to let the cool air envelop me. I inhaled the autumn winds into my lungs with three long, slow breaths. I forced my thoughts to go to a happy time when my children were born.

I felt it working.

And when I got home I had the mental and physical energy to put my pull-up bar in the door frame and pound out 100 reps in the next half hour.  My workout routine was still intact, and I was feeling good again!

Taking action for our moods and realizing it’s our choice whether we’re happy, sad or even depressed is a concept that I’ve tried desperately to ingrain into my life recently.  I’m still not totally there yet, because it’s hard as hell and takes tons of patience and practice. I know some men are chemically disabled in their heads and unable to, but for most of us, applying simple, practical strategies when we’re feeling down or just off a bit can seriously improve the quality of our lives.

And pump up our brains to be on par with our biceps!

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