I hit my low energy point every day around 2:30 in the afternoon. I’ve been this way since graduate school. My brain gets fuzzy and my body wants to take a nap. Usually I can push through it.
Twelve hours later, it’s a different story. If I’m unfortunate enough to wake at 2:30 in the morning, chances are I won’t be able to sleep again for another couple of hours. My brain is wide awake, and there’s no use trying to pretend to sleep. Better to just get up and read for a bit, to short-circuit my mental hamster wheel.
Exercise interrupts both circadian cycles. And, now that it’s a new year, I’m back to the gym. I’ve been experimenting with different types of exercise for the past several years. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. Pilates is still the best overall exercise, but the classes I prefer are either first thing or mid-morning on a Wednesday, which is just not optimal timing, since I’m just not an early morning person, and I hate losing the rest of the morning to driving 20 minutes, going to class, and driving home.
Recently, I found another alternative—a Sunday morning barre class at an adult dance studio. But the pace, at present, is a bit too fast for me, and ever since I fell and whacked my knees at the end of October, I need to be careful of putting too much pressure on them. So, I’m hoping to get back to that, and, if the studio schedule shifts, a dance class, too, but I need to build myself up, first.
That is why, last week, after a three-year hiatus, I renewed my membership at a nearby college gym. Al is an alum, which gives me spouse privileges, and this gym has an indoor track. My favorite exercise is walking, but in winter, not so much. The elevated track, which encircles the gym, provides a great alternative. There are also stationary bikes. These, I’m not so crazy about, but I need to just do it, for aerobic exercise and to strengthen my legs.
Armed with my new ID card, I headed over to the gym on Monday afternoon around 2:30. To make the experience more enticing, I brought along a new, inexpensive set of over-the-ear wireless headphones, which I paired with one of my favorite travel podcasts. Off I went on my old routine of a half-mile steady walk around the track, a mile on the stationary bike, followed by another half-mile on the track.
It felt really good. When I got home, the bonus: my brain was clearer, despite the mid-afternoon witching hour.
If I can stick to this three times a week, I’ll be meeting a reasonable goal. More often, so much the better. And since I’m writing it here, I’m holding myself publicly accountable. Stay tuned for progress reports.
Image: Tyler Lastovich