By: John-Brandon Pierre – Motivational Speaker and Personal Life Coach
I was walking through Target a few weeks ago because it was that time again; time to get rid of the dingy white undershirts and replace them with new ones. As I was walking through the store I noticed something that made my face twist in what could only be described as a look of pure derision. There it was on the shelf, a garment for men to make their waistline look thinner. That’s right, men’s spanks. A friend informed me of the title, because I had no name for them. I could only describe them as “those things some women wear under their dresses to look thinner.” The word spanks saved me some breath.
This got me thinking. Guys, if some of us have gone so far as to need spanks then it’s time we have a talk about fitness and why you literally need to go to the gym or engage in some kind of exercise. Now some people may cringe at the notion of becoming sweaty, sore, thirsty, and stinky afterwards. Worry not, I have a cure, and it costs way less than a pack of spanks. It’s called a shower. Washes away the salt and sweat, warms the sore muscles, leaves you smelling good, and if you yawn it may even quench your thirst.
Lets look at this need for getting sweaty a bit closer. By the way, that is the last time I will refer to working out as getting sweaty. I don’t want to put a salty taste in your mouth so I’ll use the word “Awesome” instead to describe the after effects of working out.
Changes in Mood
Let’s start with mood. When I first started researching this topic, I thought that our testosterone levels were lowered by exercise, but the jury is still out on that ruling. Some studies show that testosterone levels rise during your workout and afterwards drop to normal levels. Dietary supplements affect the anabolic hormones after weight-training exercise The real mood effectors are the chemicals Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphin, and Epinephrine in the brain. Exercise can change all four of these chemicals and the effects are very visible. In this article, I’m going to focus on the two that control mood: Serotonin and Dopamine.
For many men, we experience a lot of stressors through out the day. When work is over we’re drained, tired, stressed, probably upset and in much need of stress relief. Without that stress relief we turn irritable, angry, depressed, and a host of other ways that make our loved ones think it’s our time of the month. The stress builds until we either self medicate at the bar, (A bad way to deal with stress) or we blow up at those nearest to us. Usually it’s our wives and girlfriends. After all the stress life has already inflicted on us, we have no energy left to listen and be there for them.
Can’t get happy?
Welcome to what is feels like to have low serotonin. Claire Dorotik, MFT explains in her article titled Exercise and Mood, “Serotonin serves to elevate mood, increase feelings of satiety, and lift depression. Serotonin can become depleted with chronic stress or anxiety, starvation or a low carbohydrate diet, and inactivity, leaving you feeling depressed, irritable, moody, and exhausted. Conversely, serotonin is strongly elevated after a long run, or workout, even at moderate intensity levels.”
Take an hour after work to de-stress and unwind by hitting the gym and sweating it out. Afterwards, you’ll feel awesome. Don’t worry the shower will be there and when you get home, your wife, girlfriend, or other romantic interest will notice and if they need you to be there for them you’ll be able to handle it in a positive way. After the hard work and you have a chance to relax your body will thank you with amazing sleep.
Feeling sleep deprived?
Ever wake up and feel like you haven’t gotten a single minute of sleep. Yesterday feels like it never ended and you wake up stressed only to go to work and pile on more stress. At night you just feel worn down but sleep doesn’t come easy and when it does it’s not effective. This is what happens when you have low Dopamine. Claire Dorotik continues in her article, “Disruption in our sleeping and waking cycle is caused by an imbalance in the dopamine level. Dopamine stores can become depleted with chronic stress, or anxiety, and intense trauma, starvation or low carbohydrate diets … Dopamine levels can be elevated by elevating the serotonin level through exercise. Therefore, performing long duration exercise at moderate intensity can elevate dopamine levels.”
Hitting the gym, the great outdoors or whatever you do to exercise does more than keep you out of spanks. The awesome feelings you get afterwards is due to an increase in serotonin, which elevates mood, increases feelings of satiety, and lifts depression, a job well done, and an increase in dopamine levels which almost guarantees a good nights rest. Just remember to wash the awesome off, trust me, you don’t want to sleep in that.
A Psychological Aspect
The chemical effect of exercise allows us to do the things necessary for our success in life. They also allow us to maintain a body strong enough to endure necessary and sometimes unnecessary stresses while being able to interact with the world around us. The Association for Applied Sports Psychology states in the article Psychological Benefits of Exercise, “Engaging in a moderate amount of physical activity will result in improved mood and emotional states. Exercise can promote psychological well-being as well as improve quality of life. The following are common psychological benefits gained through exercise. Improved mood, reduced stress as well as an improved ability to cope with stress, improved self-esteem, pride in physical accomplishments, increased satisfaction with oneself, improved body image, increased feelings of energy, improved in confidence in your physical abilities, and decreased symptoms associated with depression.” These are all the things we want for ourselves and some of us go to great lengths, and even medication or cosmetic surgery, to obtain. They are the thoughts we ponder that we can’t talk about because we have difficulty verbalizing it. And to think, all we needed to do was strap on some shoes, grab some shorts and go exercise.
As men we naturally have an advantage in the form of added muscle mass. It’s easier for most of us to burn fat because of all the muscle we have. Even moderate exercise causes our muscles to grow and burn massive amounts of calories and fat. We’re made that way because our bodies are made to undergo more physical stress. We are Mother Nature’s hunters in our hunter/gatherer specie’s roots. There is little to no excuse for us to allow ourselves to fall into a state where we cannot physically take on the responsibilities needed for us to be a strong and dependable part of our families and our communities. It’s time to understand our bodies and make the changes necessary to live happier and healthier lives.
Trash the spanks – go out and get awesome instead.