I lost over 100 pounds but always felt like I needed to lose more. I cut carbs out and would stress over everything I ate, feeling guilty when I had carbs or like a failure if I indulged. I didn’t see what others saw when I looked in the mirror.
I worked out two to three times a day. Getting up at 3 AM for a run and lifting before work and then lifting again after work. Often going for a second run in the evening. I was logging 6 to 10 miles a day running plus hundreds of pounds lifted in weights each day. Everyday. I pushed my body to the limit and I still wasn’t happy with myself. I felt like I needed to do more.
Gradually I came to accept the achievements I had made. I began to enjoy my food and not feeling guilty for eating carbs, because I NEEDED them. We all do. I stopped working out 7 days a week and only going to the gym once a day. Granted injuring my PCL last year, hello overdoing it, pushed me to rest more than I would have otherwise, but I did start taking rest days.
Yes. I gained weight. But not the fat I carried around before. I gained muscle. I started to appreciate my body for the journey it’s been through and how strong I was becoming. I’m in a much healthier place now than I was before. I still struggle at times when I see a photo I don’t like or clothes don’t fit a certain way. But I’m nicer to myself.
I focus on whole nutritious foods, including carbs. Balancing work and workouts. Building a strong base and foundation of strength. Rest and activity. Stress relief through favorite activities such as reading, taking an epsom salt bath, going for a walk, meditation, and laughter. I no longer focus on food or let it rule my life.
We expect life after weight loss to be magical and that if we just get to a certain point… but it’s not like that. There is a lot more to life, health, and our bodies than numbers on a scale.
Balance and rhythm is not something that comes easily to me. I struggle with maintaining a balance between work and school, personal and professional pursuits, working out and rest days, family time and me time. It doesn’t help that I push myself to always do my best, even at the expense of my sanity. I’ve always been a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I can be very hard on myself when I do not give everything 100%. Having as full of a plate as I do means at some point something has to give and I need stress relief.
It’s become more apparent that my balance and rhythm is out of whack. I chipped a tooth and cracked another because my nightly teeth grinding habit since I was a little girl has migrated to the day time. I was asked what that weird noise was recently and I realized it was me grinding my teeth. In the middle of the day, without realizing I was doing it. The classes I’m taking for my degree are more mentally challenging than any classes I’ve ever taken before, and writing technical papers in the third person is not something I excel at apparently.
So I gave in here and there. I let a little more dust and cat hair settle around the house. I’m changing to posting here every other week until I finish my degree (for more regular posts and updates you can always follow me on Instagram at Nourishtofuel). I got my cracked tooth fixed and I’m getting Invisalign to correct and prevent further teeth grinding mishaps. I’m making rest days as important as lifting days. I’m letting everything I have to do for school go while I’m at work, because there is nothing I can do about it then. And most importantly I’m focusing on my family when we have time together.
Having a super long 23 day vacation from work starting this Friday helps too! Especially since part of the time I will be home with my girls while they are on winter break and part of the time I will be in the San Juan Islands with my husband.
The lesson to be learned here is we don’t always have everything worked out and flowing the way we think we do or the way we want it to. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or not doing your best. Sometimes life and stress catches up with us in sneaky ways, such as grinding your teeth unknowingly during the day. The important thing is to recognize this. Step back and evaluate what can be changed, what can be let go, and move on from there.
Recently HumanX Gear posted my story in the first of a blog series about eXtraordinary people. I was approached in September with a request to tell my story in more detail about transformation, what CrossFit means to me, what it’s done for me, and more tidbits after I had entered a contest to win tickets to the 2014 CrossFit games by stating briefly what CrossFit has done for me. I did not win tickets to the games, but I did get the opportunity to share my story with a wider audience. For that I’m thankful, and I hope my transformation can help to inspire others.
The second story in the series was just released and it’s pretty amazing.
Even if what you eat is perfection, you get a restful 8 or more hours of sleep a night, and you manage a balance between exercise and recovery; if you are in a chronic state of stress it still puts you at risk of disease and weight gain. Working towards successfully managing stress under normal daily stress such as traffic, family, work, and life in general is something to strive for. But what do you do when you are faced with one big stressful event or a series of small stressful events that turn into one big ball of stress? Can’t you just chill out already?
While it would be nice to be able to just take a deep breath and your stress would magically dissipate, it takes a little more than that. Practicing stress reduction techniques in times of small daily stress can help manage a stressful event. No single person is perfect at managing stress. However those who prioritize stress management better recover and recover quicker in times of stress.
Is thinking about how to manage your stress stressing you out? Stop. Breathe. And check out the list below for tips on managing your stress.
Traffic got you down or stuck? As in the freeway is a parking lot stuck. Find some podcasts that interest you then subscribe and download them. Maybe you want to laugh or learn something? Find a funny podcast or an informational one. Maybe you always wanted to know more about power lifting. There’s a podcast for that. Then just listen. You’ll get there when you get there. Getting upset over sitting in traffic doesn’t get you there any quicker, it just makes you upset and then you drive like an a-hole. Take it from someone who commutes to and from work in traffic that can take an hour on average each way and sometimes up to three hours.
No matter how much you HAVE to get done RIGHT NOW, take a moment or fifteen or sixty just for you. Everything will still be there. The difference is you can better handle it and get through it more efficiently if you’ve had a break. You look upset. Have a hot beverage, as Sheldon Cooper would say.
Make a list. If you have a million things to get done and it seems like it will never end. Make a brief list and check things off as you get them done. It’ll help organize your thoughts and give you a sense of accomplishment as you cross things off.
It’s okay if the house is a little dusty, needs to be vacuumed, or that pile in that spot that piles happen in the house is taking on a life of it’s own. Really it is okay. Really. This is hard for me as I have been diagnosed with OCD and think better with a clean house, after all both of my children could sleep through the vacuum running under and around their cribs. At some point though I had to let some of it go. The dust police still haven’t shown up and if they did I’d give them the duster.
Prioritize. If something is really stressing you out constantly or maybe it is a someone, does that something or someone really belong in your life? How much of your time and energy do you devout to this? It probably isn’t worth it, try phasing that person or thing out of your life.
When everything is negative, stop. Find the positive in the situation. Even if you have to stretch to find something that is positive.
Laugh. Watch funny videos on You Tube or call that friend that just gets you.
The tips above have helped me tremendously and are how I manage a full time job with a crazy commute plus being a full time student and avid cross-fitter not to mention having 2 children. Sometimes despite having laundry to do, a school paper to write, and some errand that needs to be run I’ll sit on the floor and play games with my girls. The laundry isn’t going anywhere, the paper will still be due, and we’ll still be out of this or that but the girls and I benefit much more from me laughing with them than grumpy stressed Mom.
Most importantly through all of this, is to find what works for you and do it. When you find stress sneaking up on you, take a moment to realize this to shall pass and it probably isn’t as bad as I think or feel it is. You are strong and can overcome the situation. When you practice daily stress management a wonderful thing happens, you aren’t as stressed. With practice when stress hits you like a ton of bricks, you’ve been practicing so you can kick it out the window quicker and get back to your zen.
What have you tried and found successful to manage your stress? In the comments field, take a moment to share what has worked for you and we can build a list of more tips for decreasing stress in our lives.
Want more stress management advice? Check out the following sites: