Moods: Moves, Munchies and Mates

For a few years now i have been following the Minimum Effective dose approach to exercise: 4 times a week I do short bouts of high intensity exercise.  “only 4 times a week” purposefully builds in a little failure into my system so that when it inevitably happens it doesn’t stress me too much. I don’t have to exercise every day, if I missed a planned session I can catch it up later in the week.

Recently this has fallen apart as we are renovating our home. We have been crashing at my in laws and as a result I am no where near my normal run, and I have never got round to finding a place in their house where I can do a workout. Basically I have failed utterly. It has all fallen apart. I am thinking I will get back into it when i get back to our house.

My whole schedule has been thrown into disarray, at the moment no day is the same. We are further from town, so we can’t walk and cycle like we normally do to get about. Renting a car to get around means that my step count is down from 10K+ to less than 3K a day. Isaac my beautiful baby boy has recently taken to getting up several times a night so our sleep quality is low, oh and our house looks like it has been hit by a hurricane.

In short: No Sleep, No exercise, No Routine, at least we are still able to eat, other wise it would be a happiness perfect storm!

I have noticed that when you are asked what you want for your kids the only acceptable thing to say is ‘I just want them to be happy”.

I actually think “just be happy” is quite a cruel goal to set your kids. Unless you the parent, the adult have cracked this ‘happiness’ thing, it seems unfair to ask that of your kid. As far as I can tell most young kids are way ahead of their parents on the happiness front. Now I am a dad, I have an important example to set, so when Isaac is old enough I would like to be able to tell him something meaningful and helpful about being happy: other than: “Just stay a  child forever, you are doing great”.

Before I embark on a quest for happiness i think it is important to realise that it resides in the brain. The brain is an machine thats primary function is to keep you alive by getting you into close proximity to food and help you reproduce by getting you into close proximity to attractive people you want to procreate with. (check, check: my brain seems to be working ok: good for me)

Our emotional states are like a thermostat: We are supposed to be unhappy when things are going badly so we act to make them better. If you are hungry and unloved, it make sense to move toward the buffet with all the attractive people standing around it. When you get there, no one will agree to sleep with you if you are already grinning like an idiot before you arrive.

When it comes to happiness better is desirable, but perfection is not. In that way it is a bit like my diabetic brother keeping his blood sugar within acceptable levels. Very low blood sugar can be lethal, but insanely high blood sugar isn’t great either. This must also hold true for happiness or it would simply be a case of saying: ‘show me where all the drugs are!’

Digging into the literature a little the big leavers seem to be:

Exercise 

“According to the ‘endorphins hypothesis’, exercise augments the secretion of endogenous opioid peptides in the brain, reducing pain and causing general euphoria”. General Euphoria sounds great! so it looks like Exercise is a must. We are upright walking apes. Humans are supposed to walk like fish are supposed to swim so building activity into our days really does appear to be essential to staying upbeat.

Food 

Do eat: A few weeks ago I played about with quite a tough regime of fasting. As far as i can tell i wasn’t getting enough calories and it was impacting my ability to stay motivated. I have backed the fasting off quite a bit and surprisingly eating more has had no measurable effect on my waist line. The weight I lost seems to be staying off.

The best rule of thumb i have come across to help me select the right food is: All ‘real’ food needs to be chopped, pealed or cooked before you can eat it: Otherwise is just a tasty food substitute.

The composition of what we eat is really important: “Those who crave chocolate tend to do so when they feel emotionally low and the ability to improve mood seems to be a major reason for its consumption”. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-1067-3_2

The same holds true for wine: There is nothing like a glass of wine to lift your spirits. These treats work really well if they are added to an already good diet that is largely prepared at home.

Friends: 

Finally friends seem to be essential for elevating mood. Even having firm plans to get to gather and do something fun with friends has a measurable positive effect on a persons level of happiness.

Having Something to look forward to: 

Wine Rides is an active weekend away. We lay on beautiful locally sourced and seasonal food and it is the perfect thing to enjoy with your partner or even a group of friends. We created this event to make people happy. That is what its designed to do. I promise if you book on to a Wine Ride we can budge the needle and make you even happier than you are now.

Now all i need to do is work out how to get this bomb site sorted so I can get back to normal!

bomb site