Less IS more
I thought of a few titles for this blog…. “Ironman to Couch Potato”. Or “100 to zero overnight”. Or “What the FH@*$&*$@&$ is happening to me?”
I came home from swimming the other day and hubby asked me how it was. He knew my look all too well. I had the “ah, it wasn’t so fast” look about me and didn’t even have to say anything. He knew I was trying to be positive… yet hurting that I didn’t have the morning I wanted. It’s been a while now since I have had the workout I wanted. He half jokingly said “did you make it across the pool?” Hell yes I did!! Heck, just making it to a workout is good. Glass half full mentality right? With this “thing” I have going on (more on that later), that is the only way to approach it. 30 minutes is a success.
How things change.
3 mere months ago I was at a World Championship.
And now, I am sleeping in lieu of workouts. Bike is gathering dust. Running shoes are tucked in the very back of the closet. Not by choice, but dictated by my body.
Usually off-season is such a happy time. Bike isn’t used as often but it comes in handy for social rides, technique and trainer focused workouts. Running is w/ friends without any real effort. Swimming is casual when I “feel” like waking up. And a lot of time (during the off-season) is focused in the gym and on the yoga mat. A lot of good, beneficial, enjoyable exercise.
And oh how I miss it. Rather than a normal off-season this year, I am focused on healing. On longevity. I am working on meditating the “right” way. On using yoga to help the mind, not just strengthen the body. Switching mentalities of constantly racing and being “busy” to deep breathing and meditation. Living IN the day, not just getting THROUGH the day. Figuring out what IS wrong, and WHY….
As one of my yoga teacher always says as we are going through the poses,
“Sometimes less is more.
Sometimes more is more”.
And lately less is a whole lot more.
It feels weird to even put this into words. I always took pride in myself for having balance and “living in the moment”. For being able to exercise at an elite level and be a (half-decent?) mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. And maybe I was. Just at the expense of my health. Who knew? This “healthy” passion of mine has left me exhausted, fatigued, and mentally distraught.
Less IS more. Especially now.
So… what IS going on? We aren’t exactly sure. Some call it fatigue, others stress. Maybe it’s a bad infection? Virus? I call it “feeling like shit”. ☺
Lots of blood tests later (and continuing monthly until we can get this body back up and moving again) have shown a few things. As the doctor says… quite simply… I am “depleted”. Low levels of all those good things we need to do the things we love… Fatigued athlete myopathic sydrome, Epstein Barr virus, chronic fatigue, adrenal dysfunction, and my pituitary gland causing a few issues. Tests still out on anything else going on but right now it’s day by day.
I normally wouldn’t call myself a stressed person (nor would most that know me). Don’t I have a laid back attitude?
But the stress the doctor is referring to could be anything. And that, coupled with a lingering virus, can cause the cells to starve for energy.
“When there is stress in the system, our brain responds by sending messages to the pituitary gland that tell the adrenal glands to react to the perceived threat. The adrenal glands respond by triggering stress release hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and norephinephrine. It also notifies the gut and puts the digestive system on hold. The threat (stress) could be a bike accident, chronic cardio, a death in the family, a virus, and/or chronic busy-ness.”
Hmmm. Let’s just think about that for a second. I had a bike accident earlier last year (been anxiety ridden on the road since), I raced IM Kona in 2013 (and multiple 70.3 races the last 10 years), I lost my father a few years ago, and I have two young children that are… well…. needy (in a good way of course). OHHHHHH you mean THAT stress?!!
My body has given me no choice but to slow down. If you know me, you know that isn’t easy. But saying ““no” to workouts has become easier now that the body is so weak, in a constant state of dehydration, monster headaches, & achy joints and muscles. Basically pure exhaustion 24/7. Not to mention if a workout compromises my sleep, that’s out too.
I know to some, this would be dreamy in comparison. I know a lot of people going through a lot of shit. Mine is only temporary (right?). But I write this not to feel pity or “woo is me”… but rather to communicate to people that might be experiencing something similar. To help people SLOW DOWN. To fix the body before pushing it too damn hard.
Hell if I can do it anyone can.
I don’t think I have taken 3 months ++ off running since I even started running (minus injury).
It isn’t easy. Yes, there have been tears. There have been days the head hurts so bad I can’t be the mom or the wife I want to be to my family. After a long walk my body aches for days. My head hurts so bad some days it feels like someone is slamming it into a brick wall. My jeans are too tight and my body feels fluffy. I long for THAT feeling I used to get while running. The strength my body felt when I pushed it to a level of pain both mentally and physically. The feeling of accomplishment I felt as I walked into the house.
What’s the new goal of the year? What am I working towards?
Longevity. It’s my goal to be healthy again. Feel good. SLOW DOWN.
But seemingly since that’s how I got in this mess, I need to cut out the stress. Easier said then done right? i have had to say no to a lot of things that the earlier me would’ve jumped on. Health is a priority and I do not want to fall back into this dark hole again.
Everyone always talks about rest, meditation and clarity but do they really “live” it? I have done yoga for years and years but just recently I’m learning how to slow down and breathe. Do less. Sometimes I can only handle a few poses so child’s pose has become my norm. Breathe. Steady. Take it in without being frustrated. And know less is more. I have been getting 9-10 hours of sleep a night. Crazy indeed! Slow down and enjoy the journey.
I am working on redefining myself, and my journey. Finding strength in other ways. Being grateful for so much. And finding balance between too much… and too little.
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But, she had wings”.
What’s next? I’m moving forward trying to figure out what to do with my wings.