Are you a stress or mood eater? Do you eat your feelings? You may think that grabbing that extra slice of pizza will make you feel better. Actually, the guilt associated with over-indulging often makes people feel worse.

Because eating good food causes chemical reactions in our brains that trigger pleasure, people often think of food as an antidepressant. Sadly, this is inaccurate (although wouldn’t it be more fun to get prescribed donuts at the doctor’s office?).

Some people need to take antidepressants because their brain does not produce enough of these chemicals naturally. The amazing thing is, there are ways to boost your supply of these chemicals without medication.

One of the best ways? Exercise! When you elevate your heart rate enough to cause a light sweat, your body naturally releases endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for a number of processes in your body, one of which is the “endorphin high.” This mild feeling of euphoria often lasts long after exercise has been completed, and without the guilt associated with over-eating.

Many people struggle with the idea of exercise. It conjures up images of toiling painfully in the gym, covered in sweat and wearing questionable amounts of lycra.  Fear not, concerned reader, spring is coming! And with it, many opportunities for you to get out and get your body moving. The following are ideas designed to get you off that terrible gym’s road to nowhere and onto a new path of adventure.

First off, Check out Hagg Lake. Henry Hagg Lake is located just 5 miles south of Forest Grove, and contains 15 miles of hiking and biking trails. There are also opportunities for aquatic recreation.

Check out Pacific University Outback. Outback sponsors numerous trips to help you get your heart rate up. Remember there is snow up on the mountain well through spring!

Disc golf is another good option. If you have not yet been introduced to this Frisbee/golf cross, do yourself a favor and check it out. Oregondiscgolf.com will give you a place to start.

Then there’s Crossfit. This is for those of you not opposed to sweating it out. Banks now has a Crossfit gym. This mix of high intensity calisthenics and weightlifting is a great way to build strength, and definitely isn’t boring!

You can also try Yoga Today. If getting out is too hard, or the weather is not cooperating, check out yogatoday.com. For a low fee, you can bring a great new yoga practice to the comfort of your own room.

You will be most successful when you are able to remove the idea that exercise equals pain and associate it instead with fun and a positive mood. By engaging in physical activities that are enjoyable, instead of painful, you can make some great positive changes in your life.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about your relationship with food or exercise, please come talk to us at the Student Counseling Center. And try to stay away from the lycra. It’s for your own good.

 

Joselyne Perry is the Campus Wellness Coordinator at Pacific’s counseling center on Cedar Street.

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