Answers came fast and loud.
There's the scientific knowledge that I'm preparing myself for a lifetime of health and strength, curbing my chances of contracting a whole myriad of ailments like heart disease, diabetes, even certain types of cancer. There's the physiological response, a sort of competitive cocktail, that occurs when raw adrenaline and exercise-induced endorphins mix with the fear of failure and the joy of success. If you've been there, you know what I mean-- "sense of accomplishment" doesn't quite cover it.
Then there's something else. It's a bit deeper down and was a little harder for me to put my finger on. I'm not sure everyone feels it to the same degree, or perhaps some just don't recognize it as quickly as others. It's the idea that our bodies were built for action in the same way our minds were built for thought. While our brains were meant to reason, explore, and problem solve, our bodies were designed to stand up to the forces of nature and its many elements. Now, naturally, times have changed and the level to which said strength is a necessity has changed with them. But, as developed and evolved as we are, primitive cortexes and neuro-pathways still exist that really enjoy when the body fulfills its intended purpose. Imagine the feeling you get after you've just watched seasons 1-4 of The Office back to back on dvd; the lethargic, stiff, rooted to the couch, slovenly portrait of modern civilization that now substitutes for your body. Now imagine you're on that same couch, 20 minutes after scaling a climbing wall, or moving 10 yards of dirt from the front yard to the back , or doing 5 rounds of "Fight Gone Bad." You just challenged your body in the physical manner for which it was intended and it responded. Sure, it was painful. Sure, you were convinced half way through that you'd never do it again. But now that it's done...
So, armed with these answers, I concluded that my physical pursuits were not only justifiable in the face of critical scrutiny, they were essential. In order to feel truly fulfilled, I need to be challenged in all aspects. Wherever I am.
Now we come to the real purpose of this blog. I have just begun a History Master's program that will require me to live in several European countries, none of which have the available resources for fitness that exist in the United States. Without going into too much detail, the culture over here isn't exactly what it is in America. This presents an interesting problem, for as I will obviously be engaging the mental side of things, I won't have access to many of the traditional physical outlets from home, leaving me potentially and woefully imbalanced. As this is unacceptable, I have made it my mission to put together a user's guide for staying fit in circumstances such as these by tracing my path over the course of the next year. I will seek out local gyms and Crossfit affiliates. Where there are none, I will go to parks, churches, etc.
I intend to maintain a regimented schedule similar to that which I kept back in Washington. If at any time, people have ideas, suggestions, or local knowledge, please share it. Also, if anyone can get Cricky over here to train with me, that would be great. I will try to post pictures and videos of the workouts as often as I can.