Coming Down is the Hardest Thing

7 Apr

I have a confession to make, the first being that I am well-aware that I’ve shamelessly lifted lyrics from a Tom Petty song…I know it’s corny, but it feels so appropriate for this post. My second confession is that I really love delving into exciting new endeavors. Whether they be work-related, yoga-related or food-related, I’ve always been addicted to good things when I find them. Lately, I’ve slipped into such a steady workout routine that it’s been hard to quit.  For a few weeks now, I’ve fallen into what felt like a seamless schedule encompassing multiple workouts in a single day.  I know! I know! It’s nuts but, until quite recently, it’s been really great.

I’ve been rising on time, getting myself to spin class by 5:45am, then returning home, banging out some weight lifting reps and heading off to work. After work, I’ve been feeling so energized that I have consistently taken off on long runs before dashing to a yoga or cross-training class. For the first week or two, I felt awesome. I am gearing up for a half marathon in May, so I figured training hard is the only way to prepare. But, alas, I was wrong.

Toward the beginning of this week I started to feel a little weak, and then, by Wednesday, my muscles were so sore and fatigued that I was basically falling asleep at the job. By Thursday afternoon, I felt positively, absolutely, rotten but, nevertheless, pushed myself through a timed 5k. I finished and felt downright beat. On Friday, I felt like a walking zombie. I came home and crashed early. I dove into bed at 8:30PM and woke the following day at 11:00AM. Soooo unlike me!

In answer to the question: What’s up with that? I did a little research.

Turns out that over-exercising can have major impacts on your hormone levels. Doh! Of course! Overdoing it can cause your body to go into overdrive. It can keep you awake at night when you should be asleep. It can make you crabby when exercise should make you happy. And, it can even, get this, weaken your immune system! Worst of all, it can leave the muscles you work during exercise sore and painful for days at a time. Ugh. Bummer.

So, what was I to do? If you’re like me, you find it insanely hard to stop moving. Fortunately, yesterday I had the good sense to know that it was really time for some much needed rest.

I went back to the basics. In yoga, the goal is balance. Both physical and mental.  In fact, according to B.K.S. Iyengar, the word itself means “to yoke”, or to unite body and mind in a single practice.  How had I allowed myself to get so far out of whack that I’d worked myself to near exhaustion? I was filled with a sense of disappointment.

Having nothing else to do but move forward, I took up some restorative yoga poses (you know, the ones you hate because you aren’t being physically active enough while doing them).

If you’re feeling overwhelmed this week, and need to chill out, please do so!  Even if you’re not feeling totally smoked yet, take some time for yourself and recover. Please do not end up as exhausted as me. In the case you heed my advice, I recommend the following:

  • After you’ve calmed down with some yoga, why not spend time in the shower? (those early morning scrub downs are not doing you justice!)
  • Finally, make a cup of tea and get the hell into bed (EARLY!!!).  I recommend brewing anything that appeals to you by Traditional Medicinals.  My favorite calming tea is Organic Ginger Aid (pictured below).

Ginger Aid®

After partaking in the aforementioned routine, I felt somewhat cured. Namely, it was sleep (and lots of it) that my body craved. I slept for a long, long time. When I woke up this morning, I found my muscle pain had diminished so significantly that even I was impressed that a little relaxation had the power to do the trick.

What I learned from this experience is as follows: Life is really short. Sometimes you need to give yourself the power to feel tired, to feel weak and to engage in restorative practices. Be honest with yourself and follow your needs.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical problems. It is purely informational. Any statements contained above are not designed to replace the care and recommendations of your physician.

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