Dolphins Make Me Happy

When Tara first moved in, she said, “I miss working out. We should join a gym once we’re both working again.”

“Great idea, dear!” I declared enthusiastically. Mainly because this seemed like a distant threat at the time. Someday the sun will implode and humanity will perish too, but I don’t sit around worrying about events that will take place two billion years in the future.

Only, that isn’t really an accurate analogy, because it didn’t take two billion years for us to find jobs. It only felt that way. Two months later I was working, and after another four, so was Tara. And suddenly, the sun imploded I had no excuse to delay joining a gym.

It’s not that I’m against working out. On the contrary, it feels good to exercise – and with all the great food and drinks we’ve been partaking in, it’s downright necessary to exercise, otherwise we’ll be the ones imploding beneath our own rapidly expanding bodily masses.

Sexy, eh? You want some of this and that, don’tcha?

So, we see eye-to-eye there. It’s not the “what” that is an issue, but the “when.” In my mind, exercise is a nice, leisurely post-dinner stroll around the neighborhood at, say, 7:00 in the evening. But Tara prefers an earlier workout. Fourteen hours earlier, to be exact. She insists on getting up at 5 AM. Or, as I refer to it, five @#&% o’clock in the *#!% morning. She doesn’t seem to realize that it’s still dark at that hour. The roosters are still roosting, and the newspaper boy and milkman haven’t yet made their rounds.

If this were 1957, that is. But you get the point.

Seriously, during this time of year 5:00 still feels like the middle of the damn night. Hell, 6:00 still feels like it! Which is why, when we toured the L.A. Fitness facility down the street a couple of weeks ago, I was hardly ecstatic when the membership representative gave us each five-day complimentary passes. “Really, one day is plenty generous,” I tried arguing, but my voice was drowned out by the cacophony of feet landing rhythmically upon treadmill belts, and clanging weights, and basketballs dribbling down wooden courts, and a myriad of other horrendous people-working-out noises. Because I knew what this meant: the very next day, we were getting up at ungodly hour o’ clock.

Sure enough, we did. I’m not proud to admit that I might have whined about this a little bit the night before. But that was nothing, my friends, compared  to the way I whined about it whilst en route to the gym a few minutes past 5:00 that first morning. Remember that scene in A Christmas Story where the dad is cursing out the furnace with an unintelligible string of swear words? Yeah. That was me. (They were only unintelligible because it was too damn early to form words that make sense. I learned that at 5 AM, speech is a bit of a lost art to me).  Oh, how I fretted. Admittedly, it was not my finest hour. I dragged myself bleary-eyed into the fitness center, Tara looking annoyingly chipper and eager, the yin to my yang.

My feet are a blur at 5:15, even though I should be in bed!

But then, a remarkable thing happened. Once we got moving, I actually started to enjoy it. Turns out the treadmill isn’t an evil device of torture, after all. My heart was beating strongly, my pulse was up, I was glistening with sweat – and I felt good.

Leaving me to ponder the unthinkable and wonder what, exactly, had just occurred here.

“It’s endorphins!” Tara exclaimed happily.

“What do dolphins have to do with feeling happy?” I wondered. “Are you not making sense on porpoise?”

“En-DOR-phins,” she repeated patiently.

“Ohh,” I said. “You mean endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters and are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during periods of exercise.”

OK, those weren’t my words verbatim – but pretty damn close, I swear! And my girlfriend, it turns out, was onto something. Endorphins have been scientifically proven to produce a feeling of well-being, acting in a similar fashion to opiates.

Whoa. How radical is that?

So the next morning I bitched a little less, and by day three I actually found myself looking forward to our morning workout. And then, wonder of wonders, the day after our free passes expired, we signed up for real memberships. Go, us!

The truth is, I do feel good working out, and for the rest of the day afterwards. It’s nice to get a workout done at the start of the day; the sense of accomplishment lingers right up to bedtime. And best of all is having a workout partner. Tara and I motivate each other. I’ll admit, there’s a bit of competitiveness there, as well. If she increases the incline on her treadmill to 2.0 and the speed to 4.2, for instance, I nudge mine up to 2.5 and 4.4, even if it nearly kills me. I feel like such a slacker otherwise. Damn this constant rivalry (although I explained that I’m really challenging myself and not her, a proposition which I think she bought).

Do you work out on a regular basis? What time do you exercise? And do you wish fresh milk was still delivered in a glass bottle to your doorstep before sunrise – or is that just me?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

21 thoughts on “Dolphins Make Me Happy

  1. Hilarious post. I can totally relate to the five @#&% o’clock in the *#!% morning. I’m glad I kept reading because I thought for a minute you actually had a milkman and I was gonna be telling my husband, “Hey, people in Washington State get their milk delivered. Let’s move to Washington!” But, then I read on….yeah, I’d like it if we still had a milkman. I totally remember those glass bottles on the doorstep and sometimes one of them was chocolate milk!!!


    1. I can think of nothing better than a fresh glass bottle full of chocolate milk sitting on the doorstep, just waiting to be slurped down. God, I with it was the 50s again! Except for all the Cold War crap.


  2. I so need to workout, but my *&#*%& knee won’t heal. I can barely walk around the apartment again after going out of town & doing more walking than usual last week. I even used my cane to not overtax my sore knee & I’m still having trouble. It’s back to anti-inflammatory gel rubbed into the knee every night. My body is soooooo betraying me. Glad you are getting in a good workout though – hope you continue & the “dolphins” keep you happy, happy, happy!


  3. OMG–you crack me up. If I don’t work out first thing in the morning, I’m afraid I don’t. And, to be honest, I’ve fallen off the old treadmill in recent weeks. Gotta get my ass moving. Literally!


  4. No Mark, I don’t workout per say, but I do do things like stretching, yoga and walking. Those three things seem to be right for my own body. Because I’m more on the thin side and have to work on keeping weight ON, if I do any high-impact or fast moving exercise, it causes me to lose too much weight.

    I usually exercise later in the day, because I seem to gain more energy as the day goes on.

    I am so glad to hear that you’re finding your membership awesome and that you’re both enjoying it!

    You GO, you two!


    1. You do realize that when you say you struggle to keep weight ON, Ron, that just about every other person reading your comment is groaning out loud and secretly hating you, right?

      Don’t worry. Not me, brother. Carry on with your skinny self!


  5. A little dolphin does a body good. Errr, whatever. You get what I meant. Also? YOU GO, BOY!!!! The talking yourself into exercising is the hardest part. I’ve never worked out and regretted it afterwards (unless you count the Wii Ultimate Dance Party Disaster of 2010).


    1. Talking yourself into doing it is definitely the hardest part, Tori. Although in fairness, I never did talk myself into doing this – Tara talked me into it. And pretty much wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m just glad I listened. 🙂


  6. Hah! I told her that once the endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters and are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during periods of exercise were released, you wouldn’t be a whiner anymore and I do believe I was right! Not that you’re a whiner Mark! Not at all!!

    I did exercise on my Wii for about 6 months and I did feel so much better and it was a great way to start my day but now my exercise consists of chasing after Anthony!


  7. Good for the two of you. I have a stationay bike that I hop on when I get bored during the Winter months.
    Ha! Just as you are cussing at the alarm clock, I am coming home & going back to bed.
    I’m having an affair with the Milkman. 😉


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