I have been so ill; I mean properly poorly; OK well not properly poorly but I have had a really bad cough and cold. It has knocked me for six because I haven’t really been poorly in a couple of years. Yes I get tired a lot and maybe even a little run down but I pride myself on the fact that I don’t really do ‘sick.’
To be honest, I think it has been a long time coming. When I think about it, I put my body (and my mind) though a lot. I am always super busy and over thinking and trying to do a million things at once and I think that my body has finally had enough and stopped me in my tracks.
What started as just ‘feeling a bit rough’ a few weeks ago has turned into a full on chest cold which has seen me on my knees, eyes streaming, full on heaving and gasping for breathe outside the cinema after having to leave the showing because I just could not stop coughing (erm, embarrassing); yes I was just ruining Trolls for everyone, especially my 6 year old who was sat next to me.
I haven’t slept for a week, I have literally sat propped up in bed and coughed for ten hours straight each night. My husband has taken to sleeping in the spare room and my daughter has asked me to “please stop coughing now Mum.” At least I’m being well looked after, no?
So my body has staged an intervention and having no choice but to listen, I have decided to honestly look at the changes that I need to make in my life to become more balanced. I have a lot of work to do.
Firstly, I need to eat better. Its ironic that in my quest to eat perfectly, I am making myself ill. I saw a report on the news last week that said that people who stress about being healthy are actually more succeptible to heart disease and heart failure. I quite well believe it. I am so suggestible that I am constantly changing the way I eat based on latest findings or the newest super food or because I read that so and so doesn’t eat gluten or sugar or carbs or whatever. I am basically trying to eat sugar, gluten, meat and dairy free and it is making me miserable.
I think that my problem is that I don’t know why I am trying to eat this way and while this may be suitable for other people, I don’t know if it actually works for me. This makes it not sustainable and I end up bingeing on all of the forbidden foods after a couple of weeks. I have decided to start from scratch and try to decide how I want to eat based on how foods make me feel and on my feelings ethically. I know that I don’t want to eat meat, that isn’t even in question. There’s one decision easily made. I would like to stop eating any kind of animal produce (e.g. dairy and eggs) for ethical reasons but I am struggling to stop eating it completely at this stage. Eggs are not too much of a problem and I know that my body doesn’t tolerate milk very well so I tend to make my own almond milk anyway but I am a sucker for cheese. So I’ll try to minimise my consumption and do my best, without feeling guilty for the times when I do have it.
I feel better when I don’t eat too much sugar and I have lots of healthier alternatives up my sleeve but again I don’t think I need to say that I will never eat it because I want to adopt an ‘everything in moderation’ approach. In the past I have tried to ban it completely or have a set number of times per week I can eat it but this doesn’t work for me, I feel too pressured.
I don’t eat gluten because I read somewhere that I shouldn’t. How silly is that. I have no idea how my body tolerates it and I am sure that it won’t kill me if I have it every now and again. I actually really like rice pasta and eat this at home but when I go out I’d like to be able to eat real pasta without the guilt. And bread, I love a bit of crusty bread and butter. Again here I think I need to adopt a relaxed approach but with moderation in mind.
I have relaxed my approach to alcohol in recent months. Previously I banned it completely but I am not a big drinker anyway and I think the odd glass of red wine is completely fine.
I think in the past my ego attached to the identity I created for myself: a non-drinking, healthy eating, fitness addict, when actually, who cares? Most people I know think that it’s pretty boring listening to someone bleat on about how perfect their diet is and how they don’t drink this or do that. It breeds contempt, I think, because it can come across as judgemental and divisive. I’m over it. I want to enjoy my life, free of the thoughts about what I should be doing; I want to ditch the guilt and please myself. It has gotten to the point where I don’t even know who I am or what I enjoy anymore.
I’ve been seeing a sports therapist as I’ve been struggling with back pain for what feels like forever. She said that I’ve been putting my body through the ringer because one minute I’m doing restorative yoga, then I’m running, then I’m flinging myself into handstands, then I’m doing HIIT training. My body doesn’t know what’s going on and rather than building up slowly, I’m going full out and expecting my body just to keep up. Just because I’ve spent my adult life exercising, doesn’t mean I can just stop and start willy nilly; my body needs time to get used to whatever it is I’m doing. Hence the fact that I’m in near constant pain. Like with my diet, I’m not sure what it is that I want to do because I’m so easily influenced by external opinion. The old me always worked out hard, very physical; the new me wants to slow things down and be more holistic and I’m stuck in limbo because I can’t decide from one day to the next what it is I should be doing.
The therapist had advised that I do nothing for a little while, other than some stretching to give my body time to heal. Then I need to build my muscles up so that I am using them effectively. In a way it’s a relief to be told to slow down because the decision is made for me. For the time being I’m going to continue with my yoga and walking and do some muscle building exercises and see where it leads.
The last thing I need to work on is my over worked mind. I literally over think everything. It’s torture to make a simple decision sometimes, honestly. I’m pretty good with my meditation, I rarely miss a practise (although I have struggled this week with the constant coughing) and it does help but I know that I need to be more mindful. My mind often wanders and I am constantly trying to stay in the present moment. I’m not too worried about it because I know I’m doing all the right things and it will come. I am trying to change the habit of a life time and it will take time but the fact that I am aware of it is enough at the moment.
So I think what I have gotten from this is that I need to be more relaxed in every area of my life. I don’t need to over think my diet or my exercise or the decisions that I make day to day. I need to listen to my body and trust in myself to make the right decisions. I also need to relax more in the literal sense; to take care of myself better and sleep well and not try to fix the worlds problems all on my own.
I really hope that I can take note of this and not find myself here again in a couple of months time, burnt out and hacking my lungs up outside of a cinema. Although having the bed to myself has been nice.