The other half of my experiment, exercising five days a week, was a brilliant success.
I don’t look dramatically different, and I’m still basically a weakling, but I feel physically and mentally much better. I barely took any naps for the whole month, so I know I had more energy. I didn’t cry at all, about anything — except in yoga class, which I consider to be cathartic and healthy. In general, I was less anxious and felt more positive about the state of my life.
I should say feel, because I have continued to exercise five days a week beyond my public commitment to do so. I think this is working for me because:
- I didn’t specify a type of exercise or duration, so if I’m really squeezed for time, I can do push-ups and sit-ups for fifteen minutes.
- It pushes me to move beyond my much-loved story-time (TV, books, movies) for recreation. The Future Mister Doctor and I took a memorable walk last weekend during which we outlined our plan to get rich, make an awesome charity portfolio, and lend our expertise to our community. The conversation was a vivid reminder of why we got married in the first place, and–though I won’t belittle the joy we get from watching football together–it was a needed injection of deeper, bigger-picture connection into our relationship.
- Since exercise is a “must-do”–I have more structure in my day. If I know I need to go to yoga at 5pm, it can get me moving on the dissertation because I have a deadline.
I have to echo everything you said about exercising during the dissertation process. I finished my dissertation about 6 weeks ago. The last few months/weeks were really intense, but I made time to exercise 5-6 days a week. That made SUCH a big difference. It was great to be able to let my mind rest and make my body work hard for a change. Now I tell everyone to make sure they include it. I can’t believe how much clearer my mind was because of it.
You make such a good point that exercise can add structure. When most deadlines are self-imposed and on the orders of weeks to months, ones that are quick and (relatively) easy to meet can also give a much-needed sense of accomplishment!
I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a great point. Short-term goals can be a dissertator’s best friend!
Found your blog when I was googling Dilworth. Funny, we’re hyphenated Dilworths who both live in Austin. As far as crying & exercise are concerned, I think it highly cathartic to cry while working out. In years past I worked out & through heartbreak at the same time and I’m sure no one on the Town Lake Trail realized they were tears instead of beads of sweat. Yoga is centering and you tune in so much that to not become somewhat emotional seems counterproductive. Good for you, growing your body along with your dissertation!
Hello, fellow hyphenated Dilworth! Thanks for the comment. I just met a woman in my yoga class who is a professor at UT. She said, “I wish I had discovered yoga as a graduate student!” I have tried yoga many times, but it didn’t really take until now. But I, too, wish I’d been doing it longer.