And exercise endorphins.
When people hear about how hard we push ourselves in our martial arts classes, or stories like how I finally agreed on Friday to spar with the 3rd degree black belt guy after months of being afraid to do it, (the phrase "teasing a Grizzly Bear" kept running through my head the whole time) the next question is often, "Why would anyone want to do that??!"
And I laugh, because when I stand in their shoes, it does seem a little crazy. Heck, sometimes it seems crazy when I'm standing in my own shoes.
But the answer is This. This feeling.
Peaceful, euphoric, calm, clear-headed, spent, energized, centered....
I spent two hours working out tonight as usual. One at kickboxing, one at class. It was hard work. Tonight, kickboxing ended with 50 pushups, 200 crunches, and 100 leglifts. Through the course of the class, we did over 150 more pushups and I can't even count how many crunches and leg lifts - all between the rounds of actual kicking with our partners. In the second class, we did even more of that, in addition to forms and fighting techniques that were mentally challenging to remember and execute correctly as well.
But I left feeling great as always. Stronger than I ever thought I could be. Pleasantly exhausted. Invincible.
Nothing else does this for me, and I doubt I can think of anything that would. (Anything legal and healthy, anyway.)
This is the motivation that keeps me going there day after day, week after week, month after month for almost 2 years now. I look forward to going, and while I'm there I gladly push myself harder than I need to. Because I know how great it's going to make me feel.
Taking my happy self up to bed, where I will sleep like a rock for the next 8 hours, then get up and do it all over again and thank God for it.
It's reshaping my image of myself. It's rewiring my brain. It's making me strong. It's keeping me happy.
I can't wait to go back tomorrow.