I have worked at the same library for the past four summers. Every year, for 7 weeks, my Tuesdays have been packed with back to back to back outreach programs. I start at our local market and do a Family Storytime. Then, I go directly to a community centre and do another story program. There is just under an hour between that and the next thing, during which I usually go home for lunch and a quick email check, because I happen to live just a block away from the community centre. Then, I used to go back to the community centre to do another program for the older kids. This year, I am instead going to the Y (my home away from home), and doing yet another story time for the 3-5 year old day campers. By the time I actually set foot at work, my day is nearly done, and I only have about two hours to do everything I need to before I am on a public service desk for an hour. It's kind of a crazy set-up, but it works because of how close each location is to the other. So, each year, I keep scheduling it this way.
By the end of the day, I'll confess: I'm exhausted. Doing a program takes a lot out of you, because it's a specific kind of energy, not unlike performing. The travel to and from adds to the frenetic nature, and means being really well planned and packed. Timing is everything.
Three and four years ago, by the end of the day on Tuesdays, I was done. Just ... done. I could hardly speak. I'd be at my desk, breaking down in some way, whether it was near tears or in uncontrollable hysterical giggles. Thinking was hard. Talking clearly was worse. I got a bad case of the stupids. And most of my half-hour desk shifts at the end of those days were generously picked up by co-workers who could see that I just didn't have it in me to serve the public. In other words, I could barely do my job. I went straight home to bed and did nothing in the evenings.
I shouldn't have been so tired that I couldn't think straight, but I was.
Flash forward to this summer. Same routine. Different outcome. Four weeks in, and I have no problem doing the last hour on the desk - pleasantly, helpfully, professionally - and getting ready for the next day. In fact, after my work shift, I go directly to the Y for Group Core and TRX Flexibility classes. I don't get home until after 8:00 pm. Granted, I sometimes get the yawns by the time TRX rolls around, yawns which are awfully contagious (sorry, friends). But I also get a second wind in between work and working out; the stamina and energy I have from the consistent fitness routines is tangible. Last summer I saw an improvement over the first summers. This year, it's even better.
Truth be told, my summertime Tuesdays still tire me out.
It's just that it feels like a much healthier, honest-day's-work kind of tired instead of can't-cope-with-the-world exhaustion. Exercise is helping me to do my job, and do it well. Fitness is helping me live a much happier life.
The proof is in the Tuesdays.