It’s Monday, I had a 10-hour crazy workday, I have a personal to-do list that’s so long I can’t even bear to write it down…and yet I feel refreshed.

I had such a great time at the gym tonight, and I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve said that. At first I was stressing about missing my 6:45 Monday class (which I’ve missed for the last two weeks) while still sitting at my desk at 6:40. I ended up changing at work, near sprinting to the gym and arriving at 6:48…only to find the class was being taught by a different trainer, one who required you to set up a station of equipment, so there was no sneaking in.

At this point I could have wallowed. I’m a very stubborn person when it comes to some things, and exercise is one of them. It’s not a good thing; dedication is wonderful, but tying yourself to a strict routine that throws you out whack if you break it — well, that is not good. And that’s the type of person I am.

Instead, I decided to let it all go and just do crazy things for a while, adventure to new parts of the workout floor and just let go of the day’s tension. I started with my typical 10-min interval run on the treadmill (I know that’s not very long…but I run the speedy parts really fast!). Then I wandered over to a new mat area and did some funny little exercises there — not concerned about reps or figuring out exactly what muscles I was working, I just strung together some ab/leg/arm moves and stopped when I was bored.

Following that I moved to the rowing machine, which I don’t think I’ve tried since high school lacrosse practice in the weight room, for five minutes and finished out the hour with a 20 min incline walk on the treadmill. And even though it wasn’t my strictly timed cardio or 30-bicep-curl routine, it was fun. The time flew by and I think I actually may have smiled at some point.

The only slight negative was when I grossly overpaid for a coconut water to drink on my way home ($3.75!!! I’m justifying the purchase by saying it kept me from passing out on the train).

I’m not expecting this exhilarating rush from the gym to happen often, or even with any regularly. Some days exercise is just better than others, and you have to seize on those times. But I have a history of being insanely strict with myself on some things, to the point of anxiety. For a long, long time (and to some extent even now) I was petrified of breaking the routine.

Every time I can step out of that zone and do something that’s not ruled by calories, a clock or an agenda — well, I feel a little better about myself, and I know that things are okay.