The short answer, like the answer to so many questions that have the word “shit” in them, is “yoga.”
I woke up on Sunday feeling like the end of the world was nigh, as I’d been puking from some weird allergy shit in my nose on Saturday. I can barely remember the exact feeling; it can’t quite have been as bad as childbirth, but like unto childbirth, the human brain blocks that kind of crap out. Let’s just say I felt bad all over.
I had decided I was going to do Christine Salus’ 1000-calorie workout on Sunday though, and damn it, I was going to do it. Not because it likely uses an actual 1000 calories; those numbers on the workouts are always guesstimated, and usually based on some big dude. But because it promised to be intense, and getting through something intense is always good for your ego. (Note: Just because you just did a 1000-calorie workout, don’t follow it up by eating 1,000 calories. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, you’re going to fuck up your stomach and feel like shit for the rest of the day. Make up the deficit over a couple of meals, or you’re going to be sorry.)
I was just going to give up and sit in a ball feeling like shit, but then I remembered the cardinal rule of Disaster Fitness: Getting a move on will ALWAYS make you feel better, actual medical emergencies notwithstanding. Did I want to spend the entire day feeling weak and garbagey? I couldn’t even really eat. I wasn’t going to get anything done. But I felt too bad to just get up and start jumping around.
So what do you do? You put on a yoga video. There are quite a few psychological benefits to this, and physiological ones as well. You can tell yourself that if you keep on feeling like shit, you can just stop. But nine times out of ten, you’re going to feel well enough to go on and do something more vigorous.
I use this trick most days, in fact: yoga is so pleasant, and I’m so used to feeling ready to go afterward, that the connection in my mind between getting started on yoga = pleasure = going to be ready to work out has taken pretty much all the dread out of it. Being able to do an intense hour-plus workout afterward when my head felt like an icepick was being shoved through it? That I did not expect.
Once again, as I’ve warned in Disaster Fitness, the book, —the number one book on Amazon that is about Disaster Fitness—you should never expect yoga itself to get you in shape. It’s mostly a mind-body exercise. But as a warmup/stretch/mental health enforcer combination, there’s nothing else like it in the world.