This year has felt very long and all at once very, very short. Do you ever feel that you are at your most anxious when your schedule clears up? You’ve checked off your daily to-do list and finally have a few hours to spare. You look up at the clock 10 minutes into scrolling through the internet to realize its actually been an entire hour- whoops. Distraction has been ruling my life these past few weeks but it is of my own doing. I have let the important things fall by the wayside, slacked a bit on my training, and have had a “throw in the towel” attitude about my gut issues.
But things were going so well in your last post? Yes, I know, and it’s not to say that I am feeling as though I haven’t made any progress…it just hasn’t quite gone in the direction I had hoped yet. I am no friend to Patience, we tend to strongly disagree on the timeline by which my health progresses.
At this point I have taken all the necessary tests, allergies have been confirmed, bloodwork has been done numerous times, and thankfully identifying my underperforming thyroid has helped to increase my energy. I’m definitely not falling asleep on my commute home anymore!
I think what this boils down to now, and this is something that most doctors I have been to are hesitant to talk about, is stress management.
I am your typical Type A Stress Ball. If it can be worried about, you can be certain that I am or have been concerned about it. I was chatting with my mom the other day, just catching up, and I realized a phrase I often ascribe to my anxiety, “I’ve just always been this way”, is really just one giant excuse. No, you haven’t always been like this. While I may have had a childhood that caused me to grow up more quickly than most all of the behaviors I have and the physical reactions to my emotions are learned. Spun, over time, from a pattern of undulating anxiety, that my mind is now accustomed to.
So how do we undo what our minds and spent years creating and growing comfortable with? This is my next mission. To eliminate stress. And not your every day “I’m going to be late for work!” or “I have a lot on my plate this week”, I mean the “Wow, have I taken a full breath in the last 24 hours?”. Everyone physically and chemically reacts in different ways to stress. I personally, know that I have way too much Cortisol floating around and I tend to have a low oxygen intake due to shallow breathing when my anxiety ramps up…which makes working out very difficult until I get warmed up and may also be another reason I love lifting so much. You HAVE to breathe, you need the extra oxygen to keep pumping.
Which brings me to my next point- Overtraining. Yes, there is such a thing as spending too much time in the gym. A few years ago, if something was on my mind or I couldn’t sleep I would throw on my tennis shoes and run for miles, sometimes 10+. While the endorphins and oxygen left me with a runner’s high for an hour or two after returning home, the anxiety would always come creeping back. You just can’t outrun stress. You should be able to go to the gym, work up a sweat, and get out in 45 minutes to an hour tops. I am transitioning my training to involve more effort (lifting heavier/increased workload) and less volume (fewer days per week or just fewer sets each day). I am definitely guilty of using the gym as a “stress reliever” which isn’t inherently a bad thing but I do find that I train too many times per week when I am feeling particularly stressed out. Your muscles need the rest and so does your mind. This doesn’t mean you can’t be active, simply use your rest days to take your dog to the park, stretch, foam roll, do some yoga, or just kick back and take a power nap!
At this point, I am still very opposed to any type of traditional type medication for anxiety or stress. I am a firm believer that since these physical reactions are simply a result of my emotional state I should be able to manage and reverse the effects. I have tried quite a few different methods that have been great in the short term, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, writing, (long distance running lol) but none of them in unison and none of them consistently. Again, no patience, noticing a trend here?
Starting today I am going to take on 30 consecutive days of meditation, at a minimum of 15 minutes each session (Headspace has a 10 session pack, “Patience”, with my name on it). There are tons of options when it comes to meditation/relaxation apps but after testing a few I decided the subscription to Headspace was worth it and paid for a year upfront. If you’d like to join in but still aren’t sure you want to invest the money they do offer a 10-day free trial, shoot me a DM on Instagram and I can send you a link. No kickbacks are coming my way if you do I just thoroughly enjoy the app, it has a great interface and is easy to use.
From a medical standpoint I am doing pretty well compared to the last seven months. The bloating during meal time is mostly gone…I think what I have now is simply attributed to stress. Certain foods like almonds and onions still upset my stomach (these both came back positive on my food allergy test) but I am back to eating meat and most other foods/spices. For those asking where I had my food allergy testing done, I had the blood drawn at my regular doctor’s office and she sent it off to be tested by US Biotek Laboratories. I have not had ANY dairy products since March and I have had to remove eggs as well. Let me tell you, eggs, are literally in everything. It’s ridiculous trying to find a gluten-free bread, snack or spread without them. I have had to change my shopping habits a bit and Jake has been a trooper but I try to cater to his “All American Diet” wherever I can- he, of course, gets away with eating whatever he wants.
My focus for the remaining 86 days in 2018? To dig deep. To find the root of my fear, anxiety, stress, doubt, whatever it is that is causing me to wind up tighter than a spring roll and to rip those roots from every facet of my life. There is no time for fear, it a dark and dangerous hole that will encompass everything you love and drown it until there is nothing left. I deserve better than that, so do you. Find the fear, tear it out, and get on with the things that lift you up and bring you closer to achieving your goals.