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I was writing a short story that was lacking in energy, so I threw in an alligator. It worked. The story livened right up.

It got me thinking about energy. Or, as my mother calls it, ernergy. (Chinese lacks r’s, making it hard for adult learners of English to say words containing r’s, like “words.” It took my mother 20 years to finally got her ‘r’ down, and now she inserts them wherever she sees the opportunity, to make up for lost time, I suppose. Or as mom now says, surppose.)

Ernergy is the reason we queerfit. Even though we’ve built the programming around short, high intensity workouts, we should be clear that intensity is part of the process; it’s not the goal. Vitality is the goal. That is, life energy.

Over the past week, I’ve had people tell me they want to: squat 200 pounds, be a more mobile sex partner, run with some speed and dignity, completely change their body, get more flexible, rehab a joint, and do a pull-up. All great goals. How about one more – how about adding vitality as a goal? I would be ecstatic if someone told me their goal for the spring was to become a jumbo fireball of radiant ernergy.

Spring is such a good time to become such. The season is lousy with little fireballs of radiant ernergy. Living things are bursting forth all around us – thank the pharmaceutical gods for Claritin – demanding that we get in on the action and grow! create! change! burgeon! flourish! do foolhardy things we’ve not done since we were 16! Who are we to say nyet?

Should becoming a jumbo fireball of radiant energy become one of your season’s aspirations, here are four ways to help make that happen:

Get rid of energy vampires. Oprah gets credit for coining the term, with Energy Vampires being one of her magazine’s top-clicked stories. In it, Dr. Judith Orlogg describes the types of people who suck the life out of you: charmers who need your constant attention, blamers who pile on the guilt, victims who demand your constant sympathy, drama queens who need an audience. Get rid of them if you can, set boundaries if you can’t. And energy vampires aren’t just people. They’re also the things that we do. Multitasking, for one, is a huge energy suck for the 98% of us who aren’t actually neurologically wired to be able to multitask. We think we’re multitasking, but what we’re actually doing is forcing our mono-focused attention to sequentially jump from one activity to the next with no time to reset. For almost all of us, rearranging our work to allow us to give monofocused attention to one thing at a time will leave us with lots more ernergy. Constantly checking your smartphone is another energy vampire, robbing you of focus and increasing your stress level. The research is split on the neurological effects of watching television, but there is no question that physiologically, sitting on a couch watching TV is killing you. Yes, even if what you’re watching is Scandal! We think we’re resting, but really we’re just dying slowly. For everything that you do this week, just take notice. Does this enliven or deaden? If it deadens, can you get rid of it? If it enlivens, can you do more of it?

Reach up.  Putting your hands overhead and reaching upwards puts demands on your neuromuscular system (movement and nerve to muscle coordination). Get up high on the Hasta Uttanasana at the first inhale of a sun salutation and that becomes obvious. Or do a burpee with a big jump. What’s less obvious is that an aggressive upwards reach also makes interesting demands on your neuroendocrine system (the interplay between your central nervous system and your endocrine glands).  The adrenocortical activation through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of the sympathetic division of the…wait! Come back! We’ll skip the blah blah blah and jump ahead to what to do. Here it is: do things where you have to aggressively reach upwards. The motion forces you to open up in a way that practitioners of Qigong (chi kung) believe reverses aging, balances your energy, and gets your taxes done and paid before April 15. Did that just stress you the hell out because you just remembered you have to do your taxes? Stand up and reach, friend.

Come to queerfit. Science says so. First, being outdoors in the sunlight reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and increases the production of serotonin. More serotonin = more energy. Second, deep breathing, including queerfit-induced gasping for air, lowers blood pressure and pushes more oxygen into your cells. Oxygenated cells = more energy. Third, laughing with other people increases blood flow and sends all sorts of good shocks to your brain. We will be doing more laughing this spring season. And, finally, of course, the exercise itself conditions your body to optimize your use of oxygen of glucose. Optimal oxygen + glycogen use = more energy.

Throw an alligator in it. The hipsters of Portlandia put a bird on it and call it art. We are not in Portlandia, thank god. Let’s instead throw an alligator in it and see what happens.  The safest version of throwing an alligator into the placid little pond of your life is to take the time and learn a new skill. This is different from dabbling in a new experience or being a passive consumer of some new entertainment.  Actually becoming proficient in a new skill is an active pursuit, something that exercise has been shown to help with.  There are other ways to throw an alligator into things. I’m not quite sure what all it means, but why not. It’s spring.

Today at 6:15 at our usual spot in Inman Park. There will be a weighted sled, rejoice.

Be on the lookout for location changes starting this Saturday. If you’ve not already subscribed for email updates, do so in the upper right corner of this page. And/or become a member of the Queerfit group on Facebook.