How do I human, again?
January 25, 2018 10:06 AM   Subscribe

I’ve always taken robust-ish physical health and fitness for granted, but I’ve really put my body through a beating the last couple of years and I’m feeling it. I need all your strategies and tips for optimum health, conditioning, and self-care when things are hectic. Bonus Q: Maybe baby?

In the last eighteen months or so I’ve been in an enormously stressful situation that took me from a clean-eating, triathlon-training, daily-meditating, outdoorsy-hobby-having healthy and active person to someone who works 14+ hours a day (literally every day), sleeps an average of four or five hours a night (every night), and drives everywhere. The stress also brought out some old problem behaviors during the first hardest period and I over-exercised and “forgot” to eat down to becoming significantly underweight. And finally, in the last six months I had two back-to-back freak but serious accidents that shattered my collarbone and severed tendons in three fingers - all of which required multiple surgeries and extended rehab.

I’m finally - finally starting to see the light at the end of the injury rehab tunnel and am serious about reprioritizing some things now that I’m “back”. But I’m realizing that I’m a damn mess at this point. I’ve faced the eating problems and have started gaining some weight back; I’ll continue to work on that. I signed up to start doing yoga again and I’ve been trying to get out for walks when I can; I’m holding off on serious exercise for now but will start adding back active hobbies. And I’m trying my best to increase the amount of sleep and non-work hours I get - and things are finally starting to smooth out at work, so it’s really starting to happen.

Bonus Q: in the midst of all this insanity, I met an extraordinary man and we’re talking seriously about the future - not in ifs but in whens. I want to be ready for whatever life throws at us in the next year or two, hopefully including starting a family - there are some specific weight- and nutrition- related things I’ll address with a doctor at my yearly next month, but if you have any other ideas or words of wisdom to get generally physically ready I’m all ears.

Coping with stress better and not burning myself down in all-out efforts is an ongoing background project, but in the meantime I feel creaky and disused, and like I aged much more than I should have in two years. I’m in my thirties now and am seeing that I can no longer bounce back like I could in my twenties - I get pretty down when I look at how deep a hole I dug for myself in a few short months. I need some fresh ideas and maybe some perspective. If you are a busy person who also prioritizes physical well-being, tell me how you do so - tips for scheduling, small things that make a big difference (water! I drank only coffee and wine for months and forgot what a difference WATER makes to making you feel human), perspective epiphanies, little pick-me-up self-care suggestions, whatever you got I’ll take it. Thanks, guys!
posted by peachfuzz to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe I can speak to the fertility part, seeing as I'm pregnant: have a full physical. Make sure your thyroid levels are good. Make sure your vitamin D levels are good as well. Gain some weight, because as you probably know, being underweight will mess with your fertility and you may not be menstruating regularly or at all right now. And, start taking prenatal vitamins now. Don't worry too much, as there are millions of stressed, malnourished women all over the world having reasonably healthy babies, meanwhile we in the 1st-world scenarios tend to think we have to be in perfect health before getting pregnant or we're "doing in wrong" (my OB-GYN pointed this out to me, it gave me a lot of relief).
posted by kitcat at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2018

I'm training for my 4th Ironman. For the previous 3, I had the same issue of literally forgetting to eat, working on 4-5 h sleep, pushing through everything for weeks at a time until I crashed. This time around, I have a rx for Ambien, and I take that shit M-Th at 9 P.M. and crawl into bed, lights out by 9:30. That means that I have to push my kids through their routine after dinner so that they can be in bed before 9, my wife doesn't get the pleasure of my awake company after 9, etc. I gave up watching a lot of TV, Facebook/youtube scrolling, scrubbing the kitchen every day, keeping the kids' room clean, forcing myself to read sucky books just because I started them, etc.

I've scheduled my training through July, so everyone in the family knows that Tuesday night I have a swim clinic from 6:30-9, Saturday morning I'm going biking and should be home by noon, Sunday is my long run, etc. Also, Saturday afternoon is library day, Sunday afternoon is park/YMCA time, and I can move around or cancel my training sessions if family needs me. BUT, those training sessions aren't things that I'm doing just because I'm bored, they're an integral part of my life and I need to get them in. Internet/TV/other crap? Not important. Kid wants to play a board game? Important.

Your time is the only currency you have. Spend it wisely, spend it well.
posted by disconnect at 12:36 PM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

I feel for you, injuries can be so frustrating, especially when they seem to accumulate like that!

I'm not busy, but trying to keep up good habits, and one thing that is helping me is my "daily tasks" app (I use Productive on iOS). I have broad categories like so (per week):
7 x yoga OR meditation
5 x cardio
5 x workout OR physio
(The app has them on set days but sometimes I mentally swap them. You can also skip them, but only if you have a good excuse!) Once I have a streak of 2 weeks or so I really don't wanna break it - but a few Achilles & shoulder exercises count as "physio" if need be.

If I were you (and could afford it), I'd also speak to a dietitian & personal trainer to work out a programme to get to wherever you wanna be. Set yourself an achievable goal - a sprint tri by September or whatever. Sign up for it so you have sth to hold yourself to.

Good luck!!!
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:51 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Super easy: start taking prenatal vitamins now. There's no downside besides the cost, and the upsides are that you'll get in the habit, get used to the giant horse pills before the nausea starts, and apparently they make your nails nice.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:06 PM on January 25, 2018

See a dentist. The poor nutrition, stress, and lack of sleep for the last year and a half aren't great for dental health, and the coffee and wine have likely stained your teeth. But the big thing is the pregnancy possibility -- if you need to have dental work done, sometimes that takes several visits and the types of scans and meds contraindicated in pregnancy.

When you talk to your doctor about prenatal vitamins, specifically ask about the folate vs. folic acid component debate.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:07 PM on January 25, 2018

Just for fun why not do the Whole30 and C25K together? Discipline, regimented. After 30 days you’ll feel great and see the path to what’s next.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:31 PM on January 25, 2018

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