The other day as I was waiting for my latte, a friendly older woman started chatting me up. We were both in workout clothes –my outfit a sweaty, haphazard affair, hers a carefully edited selection of cute, high-tech yoga gear. After the usual comments about the weather, and asking if I’d just come from a yoga class, she started talking about her power walks up and down the (very steep) hills in our neighborhood.
“I can’t help it,” she said. “Every day I just have to go charge up those hills or ride my stationary bike. I’m a total endorphin junky!”
This last statement was so full of gleeful earnest it almost set me to giggling uncontrollably. I’d never heard the word junky used to describe any kind of healthful behaviors. Not to mention, when we hear about addiction and exercise in the same sentence, it’s usually in reference to something negative, like exercise bulimia or another disorder. But she thought of her ‘addiction’ in a positive way (and it was clear that she wasn’t truly addicted, in the clinical sense of the word). She just relished the benefits of exercise in a way that overshadowed any other feelings she might have had about it.
Her words have stuck with me for the last few days. So many of our experiences are shaped by our attitudes toward them, and by the words we use to describe them. She was brimming with excitement and passion about the simplest of activities, because she chose to focus her attention on its inherent benefits.
Because of her, I’ve resolved to change my language about exercise. To start saying “I get to exercise,” instead of “I have to.” To start framing the experience in positive language, and looking at its benefits for the glorious rewards that they are.
From here on out, I resolve to stop being a reluctant exerciser. Consider me an endorphin junky.