Monday, January 23, 2012

Wake Up Call

Last week was something of an epic fail for me physically.  I am not really sure what happened but either I got into some gluten (or some allergen I haven't identified??) and was not aware... and had a really powerful reaction, or the stress I put my body under on Tuesday caused a flare up of the autoimmune symptoms.  I don't know.  I won't ever know, most likely.  The fact remains, it happened and I was very sick all week.

In dealing with the details I do have, the latter explanation is the most likely and going with that is my only real option.  I spoke to DW today, like I do every Monday, and it was a raw conversation, full of honesty and very eye opening.  We talked at length about the changes I need to make to attempt to manage my health with my job and balance triathlon in the mix.  The biggest thing is my tendency to prioritize my health, physical and especially mental, very low on the list and that needs to stop.

Diet is a big thing (that means preparing safe foods and eating in a reasonable, regular pattern), but so is sleep and keeping a consistent schedule.  It's not very exciting but in order to treat these symptoms and manage the inflammation in my body, I have to make sameness a part of my routine.  That means everything from planning my meals throughout the week to setting boundaries with my customers and coworkers so that I can have as constant a work/sleep schedule as possible.  Applying the same discipline and stubbornness that I reserve for my training to self-care and self-respect.  I have to muster the mindfulness to eat, sleep, work, and train on a constant schedule.  I need to care for myself and with the same intensity and professionalism I provide to my customers.  My health and well-being must become and stay my top priority.  Without that, I will do nothing else... well, or at all.

We also discussed acknowledging and honoring my need for downtime, me-time, when I am off the hook.  No demands can be made of me and that time is mine to spend as I wish.  Right now, I get to the end of the week with my mental fortitude expended.  I feel run down, exhausted and "under the whip".  It means that while I get my workouts done on my days off, I may not get anything else done.  I literally get so over scheduled that I rip me time out of the schedule at the expense of things like laundry and grocery shopping.  I mentally shut down and disassociate from life.

WHY?  Because I am forcing productivity out of myself even when I am totally sick and exhausted and I am doing it entirely on will power.  I work on it, train on it, take care of my dogs on it, never say no to anyone because I know I can make myself do it.  Until I can't anymore and the only thing I am willing to sacrifice is chores, personal time and my social life.  Work and training are too important... one pays the bills, the other makes me happy.

DW said to me today that my current life was not sustainable.  If I did not make some fundamental changes that I could "kiss triathlon good-bye".  That was a huge wake up call.  Especially since I know he's right.  Too right.  That terrifies me.

But then so does my health.  My fathers family has a colorful history of serious GI conditions and his sister and her daughters health is a mirror image of my own.  I do not know if he had Celiac's but he certainly struggled with GI health daily.  I suspect that he did.

I am two years older than he was when he ran Western States.  I am eight years younger than he was when he died.  That would be the definition of "not sustainable".  (RIP Dad.  I love you and miss you still.)

Today, the silver lining is that I see this.  I have a plan to deal with this.  I spent the day, as I will spend at least one of my days off every week from now on, preparing for next week.  I cleaned.  I went to the grocery.  I spent a little time visiting with a friend.  I ran and will here shortly head to the pool (open until midnight for all of the crazy night owls like me).  I contacted dietitians.  I wrote myself reminders.  I took tangible steps towards fixing the problem.  I put notes on duct tape on the fridge!

My fridge with my mantras
Stress, overwork, lack of nutrition and unstable sleep patterns are bad for anyone.  If you have to manage any kind of autoimmune condition, it is toxic, deadly.  As of today, I am changing my focus and perspective to one that prioritizes my well-being above all else.  Without my health I cannot train, I cannot work.  I am no good to anybody.

The devil is in the details, the simple, little, day to day details.   I am no longer willing to sacrifice everything just to please another person or simply because being organized is hard.  I must stop living like I am about to die.  I am worth more than that.

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