I’ve been sick this week – really sick.
I get this annoying reminder every once and awhile when I take on too much that I need to slow it down. I’m prone to the strep throat and have probably had 10+ bad bouts of this horrific illness (that doesn’t count the just normal bouts) in the past decade. If you have never experiences this god awful illness, you are one of the lucky ones because I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, ever.
I always preach about keeping life simple. Eat clean, stay fit and be happy. Do only those actions that make you happy and not to try to make everyone else around you happy. You have no control over how others react – however, I have a hard time actually doing that. No one person should put so much pressure on themselves that it takes away from their own happiness… but I often find myself in that very situation.
So, on that note, I have a few confessions:
One. I have a hard time saying no. Unless it’s something like fly me to the moon or sing opera (two things I obviously cannot do), I know I can do it – so I say yes.
Two: I stress, a lot. I stress about deadlines, money, working harder, what I eat, doing more with my time, using my time more efficiently, certifications, being more productive, if the direction I’m heading it the path I should be on, if I’m giving enough time to my friends, squeezing in workouts… I stress.
Now the problem with number one is that it always leads to number two. And the problem with number two is that the human body can only read stress in one way and it’s never good.
(Pause for a small anatomy lesson – feel free to read or skip!)
The human body is well adapted to deal with short-term stress, but if it remains on high alert for an extended period of time, you can grow vulnerable to some serious health problems. Here’s how major systems respond to stress:
- Nervous: The “fight or flight” response begins here: When you’re stressed, the brain’s sympathetic nerves signal the adrenal glands to release a chemical variety pack, including epinephrine (aka adrenaline) and cortisol ( <— fat storer!!!). Persistently high levels of these chemicals may impair memory and learning, and up your odds for depression.
- Endocrine: Stress hormones trigger the liver to produce more blood sugar, to give you that kick of energy in the moment of perceived danger. But if the “danger” you’re concerned with is a long-term dilemma and you’re already at risk for type 2 diabetes, bad news: Elevated glucose levels may turn you into a card-carrying diabetic.
- Respiratory: At high-stress moments, you may find yourself breathing faster, feeling short of breath, or even hyperventilating (I experience this all the time). Over the long term, this strain on the system can make you more susceptible to upper-respiratory infections (so if you’re considering a career in air-traffic control, you might want to stock up on Emergen-C).
- Cardiovascular:Momentary, acute stress, like, say, when you’re walking down the aisle to get married, will make your heart beat faster and blood pressure rise. Long-term stress, like unwelcome pressure from the folks to produce offspring, can cause narrowing of the arteries and elevate cholesterol levels, upping your chances of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- Immune: Short-term stress can actually boost the immune system, helping your body fight infection. Ongoing stress, however, turns things in the other direction, possibly slowing wound healing, leaving you more susceptible to infection, and worsening skin conditions such as eczema, hives, and yes — acne.
Basically, I’ll never be able to achieve my physical/fitness goals if I keep stressing about frivolous things and in result, cause my body to hold onto that fat storage I’m working so hard to rid. Not just that, I’m not my carefree, live-loving self when I’m constantly under stress.
My body definitely told me who was boss this past week, and trust me, I had a lot of extra time laying on the couch to think about what I’ve been doing to it over the past few months. I was off work all week (this has never happened to me ever), had no appetite, have lost a week of training, and the worst thing of all, missed out on a kettlebell certification that I’ve been training for and working towards, for months (albeit not strictly) – all because I took on too much along with a new job and stress got the better of me. Big mistake.
I know how fortunate I am to live in a society with access to modern medicine, because if I wasn’t, I don’t think this past week would have turned out so well for me.
Well now I’m going to approach the good things in my life such as that, good. Not constantly needing improvement, betterment or more… but to appreciate the good things in my life as they are.
I’ve decided to prioritize and chose those aspects of my life that bring me the most joy to be those I focus on. I need to stop spreading myself so thin and learn that if I’m ever going to be great at something, I need to dedicate myself to that one thing and set myself up for success ( <- by doing these things!), instead of failure.
Once I was well enough to actually get off the couch, I spent this weekend relaxing, getting in the Christmas spirit and spending time with my best friends.
We put up a Christmas Tree:
(You’re welcome Faith)
Watched Christmas movies, drove around looking at Christmas lights/decorations:
Poor Charlie Brown!
Listened to Christmas music and drank a few Christmas beverages:
And checked out the Blodel Conservatory’s light show!
I’m excited to get back to work, for all the holiday festivities coming up in the next few weeks and most of all – I FLY HOME IN 20 DAYS!
Halifax, I’ll be seeing you soon :)