I get it. But I'd rather chisel my eyes out [once I'm done rolling them] than hear that quote ever again! So don't use it - you are banned from uttering corny facts in my presence. Actually, just so you know it's a myth. The number of facial muscles it takes to smile or frown is unknown. But let's be honest, smiling feels better You can, however, sing that "Don't Worry, Be Happy" ditty at low volumes. Or should I say, don't worry - choose happy! Why is it necessary I be so jacked up on happiness, you ask? I mean, I can certainly get that from my Diet Mountain Dew [thanks, QT clerk *wink*]. BAD RACHEL! [Trainers don't drink that, right?] Well I'll tell you why I'm feelin a little giddy - because I want to! And I've made the choice to do so - so should you! You've got nothing to lose, except the frown lines [by the way, happiness is free and Botox costs a bundle!].
Ok, ok so I've got your attention, but I'll bet you're still scratchin' on how this happiness jazz relates to your fitness anyway. Well let me guess: you're one of those badasses I see at the gym. Hat pulled low. Ipod on Rise Against at ear-bleeding volume. Fully loaded to get jacked on iron [ok so I may have taken that a little too far, but I do see alot of people like that.]. Don't get me wrong, I get pumped up and want to get my workout on just as much as the next person. I want to be left alone to just do it! But a friend of mine recently told me a story that got my wheels a-spinnin'. He told me he once was completely psyched up, angry, with an adrenaline/testoserone overload that had him benching 225lbs 5 times [yes, I made fun of him for being such a wuss]. It was the most he had ever benched... until one day he completely fell head over heals for a girl, floating on air kind of love, [we're talkin major endorphin high] and that day ONLY he benched that 225lbs 6 times. Damn.
Wow! Really? Wow! How rad is that? So I just need to be pumped up on adrenaline and be in love? Check. No problem. Hey! Wait a minute that might be kinda rough. HAHA ok ok. Myatt Murphy, of Men's Health gives us a breakdown of some of those feelings. Moods—such as being mad, frustrated, nervous, or even ecstatic—can alter more than your mind. They can affect your muscles. "Emotions influence thoughts, which in turn can influence behavior and performance," says Dave Yukelson, Ph.D., coordinator of sports-psychology services at Pennsylvania State University Sports Medicine.
When You're Angry
Most strong emotions—anger, anxiety, frustration—cause your adrenal glands to release adrenaline and more than 30 other hormones into your system. "This hormonal surge causes your heart to beat faster, relaxes your bronchial tubes to improve breathing, converts fat and protein into extra blood sugar, and even slows down your digestion to improve muscular energy," says Richard Marsella, Ph.D., author of Welcome to Stress Management. "Whether you feel like exercising or not, your body is already getting a temporary boost that could enhance your workouts." "Being mad can cause you to feel stronger than usual," says Mike Huff, C.S.C.S., coordinator of sports performance at the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Lab at Duke medical center.
Being angry elicits the greatest fight-or-flight response from your body, so you can use that hormonal surge for more strength. "If you're naturally in that zone from anger, you may be able to use the same adrenaline spike that's already occurring to push your muscles to new levels," Huff says.
When You're Happy
Feeling great about something, "gives most people a higher [say it with me peeps] HIGHER sense of self-efficacy than they usually feel," says Ted Butryn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sports psychology and sociology at San Jose State University . It might be a good time to raise the bar even higher, literally. "Being happy places you in a mindset of feeling better than average physically," says Butryn. "That makes it the ideal time to experiment with advanced exercises that may be perfect for breaking you out of an exercise rut." Try something different. Being stoked about something makes it a good day to add something new. I can’t miss the opportunity to use the animated flick Monster's Inc. to fully illustrate my point, because it does it so nicely. [Here's the premise if you missed this HE-larious kids flick: The monsters are first trained to scare the bjeezuz out of children to power their city. But it’s when they realize that making kids laugh powers it a 100 times more at the movie’s end that they have their “ EUREKA ” moment! Angry workouts may be good, but HAPPY workouts are BETTER! You’re trying hard not to smile aren't you? Still not convinced you need to get your chipper attitude on? Grrrrr.......you’re a tough one! Ok let me try one last time to convince you! If not… it’s dogpiles for you, friend!
Studies show being happy is similar too being healthy. The choices we make daily affect our entire outlook on life. Healthy habits are necessary for good health. Too much stress can make a person unhealthy – and anxious. Anxiety based on petty concerns - financial worries and rushing day-to-day - make us eat and sleep less and messes with our mental disposition, affecting our professional and personal lives. When we are anxious, we often get impatient with those around us [are you a foot tapper? A teeth clencher?]. Well fugghetabout it – I’ve got good news for you, you CAN change that! When you’re happy, your body chemistry is affected and your systems function well: you’re satisfied and ready to accomplish your goals and dreams!
Need some ways to get that hunka hunka burnin love feelin? Or at least bring a smile to your face? Follow some of these tips to be happy - here's a gaggle of 'em!
1. Do something positive - Do something for someone else that makes you feel good as a person.
2. Take some time to recognize - Everyday you should try and do something that shows you just how beautiful the world is. If you have a nice park or garden near by, then go there. Walk around and just enjoy the fresh air, get an eyeful of nature and a helping of happy.
3. LOL!! - Everyone knows that laughing is really good for the heart. You should try and laugh every day. Watch a comedy or hang with a funny friend. If you have toddlers, get on the floor and play with them. They do the darndest things - especially when they know someone's watching them. Toddlers love to entertain people. If all else fails turn on Spongebob and gaffaw at his goofiness.
4. Where's my peeps at? - Get to know the people around you better. You never know you may have a new best friend just waiting for you there - tell a joke, they're the one who laughs loudest at it.
5. Tunes -If you like music this is the perfect happy outlet for you. While cleaning the house or driving in the car listen to your favorite tunes. Sing along to the song [the louder you sing the better - so long as I'm not in the passenger seat]. You don’t know the words? So what? Hum along to the song while bopping your head back and forth [great neck stretch, btw]. If you'redoing this in the car at a red light you may get some looks - smile at them and drive away, that should make you happy! Sing in the shower! Groove in the bedroom, too [not the naughty way...]
6. MOVE YO' BODY!! - One route to happiness is "flow," "an engrossing state that comes during creative or playful activity", per psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Athletes, musicians, writers, gamers, and religious adherents know just the feeling. It comes less from what you're doing than from how you do it. Happiness is also associated with brain endorphins and the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can be stimulated by hormones like adrenaline. This explains the gym junkie's "endorphin kick" or the athlete's "runner's high", Dr Joseph Ciorciari of the Brain Sciences Institute at Swinburne says, "Because adrenaline is produced during exercise, happiness may also be connected, which could explain those moments of unexpected or 'undeserved [seriously? we all deserve it] happiness that can sometimes strike out of the blue." "There's some suggestion that that is a physiological thing . that your body just happens to be operating at its best efficiency at that moment and we experience that as happiness," he says.
7. Show me that purdy smile :) - Because you look so much better doing it. It's contagious! It's hard to not smile when you see someone else doing it!
8. Read Kansas City Fitness Magazine and my column - HAHA you know I couldn't help myself with that one, come on - cut me some slack, this one makes me happy!
Bottom line this month: "If you are looking for something to complain about, you are absolutely certain to find it,"Gregg Easterbrook, authour and journalist, told LiveScience. "It requires some effort to achieve a happy outlook on life, and most people don't make it. Most people take the path of least resistance. Far too many people today don't make the steps to make their life a more fulfilling one." But hey that's not me and it's definitely not gonna be YOU! WE want those warm fuzzy feelings. Make that choice to be the best YOU that you can be every day [your workouts may even reap the rewards]!
Bigger smiles = bigger biceps!
Soooooo...... when you roll up to the gym tonight being your badass self. Maybe try, at least, stopping to smile at a couple of people. You may even get a smile back! Now... wait for it......wait for it.......WUUUUUUUSHHHHH!! Wow. Feel that RUSH of adrenaline boosted happiness shooting thru your veins. Harness it and lift/run/swim the best and hardest you ever have!! Now that is BADASS!
P.S. I promise my next column will not feature the word badass. I've just now realized my last two articles end with that word. What can I say? I guess you just are......