Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Am Addicted To Endorphins

According to Wikipedia (significantly paraphrased):

Endorphins are produced during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, and they produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean "a morphine-like substance originating from within the body." The term "endorphin rush" has been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms of stress, supposedly due to the influence of endorphins.
A publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called "runner's high", which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. Runner's high has also been known to create feelings of euphoria and happiness.

When I hurt myself, I stopped working out. I literally sat on a couch and watched movies. It wasn't until last weekend that my hand actually felt good enough that I thought I could go on a short run.

And I needed to!

You see, I'm addicted to endorphins. I get exactly what Wikipedia describes when I work out: happiness (some call it optimistic). But here's the deal, I tend to workout a lot, so I tend to always have a steady stream of endorphins. Like coffee drinkers, it means that I only really feel the effect when I STOP working out.

Which is exactly what happened.

My observation has been that the effect takes a week or so to wear off. Then slowly, my attitude and mood becomes more and more gloomy, to the point that I start arguing over small things (it tends to sneak up on me). As a kid, I remember times when I would get angry with my parents, and getting into a massive argument about something stupid. Suddenly, my parents would realize what was going on, and require me to go on a run. By the time I got back, life would be fine again. It's almost like magic.

This last week I experienced the same thing. My mood really took a dive and I began questioning all sorts of decisions and plans we have - mostly thinking they were horrible. Not surprisingly, Jessi wasn't expecting that and we might have exchanged some words over it. Like I said, it sneaks up on me - I normally don't realize it until it's too late.

Then I watched the Brian Williams interview of Tim Cook. In the interview, Cook said that he hits the gym every day at 5am to workout. For him it's a way to stay in shape and relieve stress. Here's a guy who's running the most valuable company in the world, and somehow he's figured out how to make time to exercise. If he can do it, so can I! And that was when it hit me that it's been a while since I worked out.

3 miles later, life is good again. I'm excited for our plans again, though I think I revealed some real risks
we'll need to handle, but now I think we can actually handle them! I also feel good about getting up early and getting a fast start to the day (literally).

So, I'm addicted to endorphins, and it's great!


  1. Yancy Eaton11:16 PM

    We're a lot alike in this regard. I crave working out. It's an escape from stress for me. I mostly run, but I really like playing basketball too. I wake up every morning at 4 to give myself then time before work to do it.

  2. Very cool. 4am is pretty early. :)