I Came for the Endorphins

My name is Theodora, and I am addicted to endorphins.

I exercise for myriad reasons, but a big reason is to manage stress and anxiety. I am calmer, happier and overall just a better person after I’ve exercised. (So, really, it’s a public service, too.)

I also exercise to push myself and find my limits, but I still always want exercise to be a positive thing in my life.

The other day, I had a workout where I really wanted to cry and felt terrible about myself afterwards.

The scene: Veteran’s Day. 9am. CrossFit. The WOD: 7 rounds of 15 reps each of: box jumps, power cleans and kettlebell swings. Checking the website the night before, it sounded fine, and I agreed to meet Alex there.

I still feel uncomfortable at CrossFit. I’m new. I don’t have a super hard body. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing. But I showed up, and we split into groups of three for the workouts. It was me, Alex and some other lovely girl. The style of the workout was “follow the leader,” which meant that we weren’t done with one round until everyone was done.

So, for example, if Theodora is still finishing her power cleans and it’s taking her forever (purely hypothetically), then everyone else stands around and watches. I’d never done a power clean before Elements, and only in one class. I had no idea what the hell I was doing, so I was slow and my form must have been terrible. So, the instructor kept correcting my form. I knew she was helping, but I felt all eyes on me, and tears sprung to my eyes.

I contemplated dropping the bar, walking out the door and never returning. But I’m too stubborn, etc, to do that, and so I sucked it up and pushed through the rest of the workout, refusing to make eye contact with anyone. Alex and I walked to work afterwards, and I was GRUMPY.

I haven’t yet been able to do any of the workouts at anywhere near prescribed weights, and I still couldn’t do it right. That is incredibly frustrating and humbling, and I felt robbed of my endorphin high, and dropped the f bomb many many many times in the hour following the workout.


Yesterday, though, I got that endorphin high I’d been looking for. The New Balance folks were having a press launch for the Harley Pasternak Minimus 00 Trainer.  (In total full-circleness, the first event I worked with NB at my last job was with Harley at the same place.)

I’ll be honest—I wasn’t super crazy about the past versions of Harley’s shoes—they all felt too bulky to me. But THESE? These are beautiful, and feel great, too. They have a 3mm drop with a little cushioning, and are designed for training and lifting and are also great for lateral movement. ALSO THEY ARE CAMO.

Harley put us through a circuit workout: one circuit on the Helix trainer which is basically a crazy elliptical that goes sideways; one circuit doing core work; one circuit doing sprints, etc.

And just like that…all the endorphins came flooding back.

Tonight, I had an Uplift credit from bailing on a class Ashley and I were going to take when she was in town, and I’m still feeling a wee bit down, so I knew I needed me some Chelsea and Sculpt Fusion. That class is just magic. It relaxes me, stretches me out, and makes me really freaking happy. Also, we have similar taste in music, so I love her playlists. Here’s tonight’s.

Why do you exercise? Do you get mad if you’re denied your endorphins?

15 comments on “I Came for the Endorphins

  1. Kristine

    THIS. All of it. I get into rage mode when a workout class is meh or I don’t get my endorphin’s worth (especially if said workout is at lunch or squeezed into the only time of day I have to exercise). I have been finding though that I do get my endorphin rush with weights… if I bookend my weights workout with some sprints, or a progressive mile on each end on the treadmill. It always comes back to running. Always.

  2. Sara @ Lake Shore Runner

    I am like you – I workout because it is my therapy. Much cheaper than a therapist! Ha. It has gotten to the point where I do not feel myself or feel off if I don’t get my endorphin rush sometime during the day. Also, like you I do not like not being good at things. I have only dabbled in the Cross Fit area but know it definitely is a different type of workout. I feel the most unathletic when I go to barre classes. I am not good at it. The smallest movements can be soooo hard. It is funny that we can run hours upon hours but when a teacher is telling you to tuck you can’t do it. Tuck what??

  3. Denise @ Do you have that in my size???

    Ugh, I can’t stand it when I seem to be the only one who doesn’t get it in workout class – it feels like everyone’s staring even though I know no one else cares what I’m doing because they’re all in their own heads. I’ve started playing a game with myself to actually seek out that feeling and embrace it, which somehow seems to make it better. For me, that’s Pilates Reformer class and anything core related, because I still have the world’s weakest abs.

    Running, on the other hand? Always, always happy.

  4. Wendy

    It doesn’t sound like you enjoy Crossfit very much and working out so shouldn’t be stressful. Why torture yourself, go back to an activity that you enjoy and makes you feel good inside and out.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      None of the other workouts so far at CrossFit have made me feel quite like that, and there were several where I felt totally badass. I’m paid through the end of this month so I’m going to try it at least until then/through the end of the year before making a decision. But I probably don’t see myself doing this long-term, to be honest.

  5. Bets

    I was always the slowest and weakest in my CrossFit class and I never did the box jumps, I just couldn’t mentally do it. I eventually got over the fact that I was not up to par with the group and just focused on improving. I always felt like people were judging me but I think everyone has something they can’t do and they are worrying about themselves. I hope the classes start getting better for you.

  6. Sam

    So interesting. I did Crossfit for a month and enjoyed it, but was worried about getting injured/taking on too much too soon. I’m now in a small group training that is very much like CF in terms of the exercises – lots of cleans, kettlebell swings, Turkish getups, weighted glute bridges, etc – but focuses on form, not speed (nothing is done “for time”), you’re only competing against yourself (with writing results on the board at CF that seemed to not be the case), and the workouts take an hour – no more, no less. And I love it. It’s the same price as CF but I never feel ashamed, I feel so much stronger, I love being spotted and assisted not by people who know as little as I do but by certified trainers, I leave feeling energized and not demolished, etc etc. It’s the perfect balance for me, if you can find something like that.


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