I started noticing many years ago that, at some point, not long after the holiday festivities had passed and I started to “hunker down” for the winter that, despite all the activities/blessings in my life, i.e., work, family, children, friends, etc., symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, loss of enjoyment of my daily activities, low energy level and a general sense of “the blues” started to set in and the symptoms became more severe as the winter season progressed. According to my doctor, mine was a case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and I found out that the symptoms are not to simply be “brushed off” as a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk… I needed to take steps to enhance my mood and motivation. So, about eight years ago, after I felt my children could manage for a couple of hours without mom, I decided to join the gym. I got a trainer, started a weight lifting routine and performed cardio workouts three to four times a week and I immediately noticed an elevation in my mood, an increase in my ability to concentrate, ability to ward off feelings of depression and a reduction in my stress levels. It was explained to me that when we exercise, our bodies’ release chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in our brains that reduce pain perception and also trigger a positive feeling in the body, accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Not only was my mood much improved, but I was getting the added health benefits of heart strengthening, lowering of my cholesterol, increased energy levels, improved muscle tone/strength and a reduction in body fat. And there were social benefits as well…new friendships and a new venue for social interaction. Eight years later, I’m happy and thankful to report that working out continues to be an integral part of my life and a true passion of mine.