On Demanding Days

How do you unwind after a demanding day?

A long time ago, for a very long time, I was submerged in depression. Every day the burden of this reality wiped me out.

I didn’t exercise. I didn’t eat well. I didn’t moderate alcohol. I binge-watched television.

Sometimes the things that you think are doing to unwind don’t actually do that at all.

Unwinding is a way to decompress from the intensity of a stressful day. As it stood, the more demanding the day the greater the numbing required until sleep and repeat.

I was working too many hours for too little money; 40+ hours a week, every week. 12+ hour shifts regularly. My ambition and spirit was unafraid to take on responsibility to leave a legacy in the important role I had and despite promises made I was unfairly paid. I achieved my legacy. I was bullied by my boss.

Every day. Sleep and repeat.

It’s hard to think about this now. To be without an advocate, knowing something was wrong but oblivious to the misery and distress that was to come.

Fast forward to now. I have demanding days but not stressful days. In a way I’m grateful when I’ve had a demanding day. I feel invigorated afterwards, like after an intense workout. Since I’m either working from home or out in the field, I relish the null time during the drive to the gym after work to decompress, which I know how to do now. I reflect on the wins of the day, the challenges that were overcome, the difficulties that require more thought and then file them in order of energisers to repeat, skills to keep, and things to deal with tomorrow.

By the time I arrive at the gym I am ready for part 2 of my day: getting the work done.

Many people just want to get their exercise out of the way in the morning, like some kind of shore. I am the opposite, I look forward to it at the end of the day. The memory of the past is never far from my mind of My Alternative Life. My actual life, before I changed course.

No matter how hard my session is in the gym, my time there in the evenings is nothing short of a blessing and I am so grateful just to be there.

During COVID I don’t have the gym; I have to be disciplined as the cold and the wet discourage me from training all exposed on the driveway with my limited equipment. It is hard and I don’t want to be out there in the dark.

Reflecting on this today reminds me of why I train. It is a symbol of the energy I have for my life now. I unwind by being energetic. This energy honours a new truth: I have the power and drive now never to abdicate my right to authority over my own life.

What’s your favourite way to decompress? Tell me in the comments.

On Health

What do you do to stay healthy?

This is what I’ve learned about getting healthy and staying healthy. The best thing you can do for your health is to be consistent with something. I notice I feel “less” healthy when I am less consistent, compared to when I am more consistent. Even if that means doing less for longer, that is still consistency.

We’re still in COVID isolation, though today more things are opening up.

Things I do for my health consistently: Short, medium and long.

Short

I’m now three weeks into my stretch program. I have developed a four day a week program based around the splits program I completed in 2016 with my mobility training coach, Fanny Tulloch (she hadn’t yet married back then, reminding me of how long I have left this practice to return back to it now).

I’m getting up at 5:30am to stretch in the quiet of the dark morning. I enjoy this time in the pre-dawn quiet more than I expected. It’s a wonderful time of quiet, filled with the prospect of possibility for the day ahead.

Medium

I set this subheading and then had nothing to fill it with. Short turns into long when time is applied. That is, Dreams enacted over time lead to earned results. So I guess the medium is time.

Long

Continuing the principles of my “I fixed my life” change that began when I got off the couch in 2015. April just gone was the 5 year anniversary. For a long time I struggled with the thought at the age of 31 that I started so late in health and fitness. Having been on the journey long enough to have my eyes wide open I no longer feel now I started late. I have been fortunate to meet a lot of people on the way, many younger and further along in their fitness journey, many similarly aged (in “training years”). 

Sometimes, when I get down about having taken so long to find my fitness, I justify the time spent in my 20’s as finding my self and my sanity instead. In a way, that is accurate of how I spent my time back then. It’s reflected when my training buddies are moody at a failed lift and I am sanguine. When they channel rage before maxing out and I am calm, excited even, for my attempt. When they are complaining during boring hypertrophy blocks and I am giddy with the privilege to be unracking a barbell.

The group that has helped me most to find perspective are those older than I. They who never took this journey and are now in their later years: peri- and post- menopausal women, mid-life men who’s testosterone is on the decline never to return. They are in pain now. They are so used to their habits and ways that the effort to overcome inertia is compounded. It’s overwhelming.

This is also the group that inspires me the most. For the ones that have the courage to act on the change that they want, they live in an age of information where the possibility is most within reach to achieve their dream. The dream of being content with their physical selves. Finally. To feel in control of their emotional selves. Finally. To have this channel of personal pride that is kept within, for themselves, but shines like a like and that glow is cast out of them to others. Finally.

Who inspires you to stay consistent? Tell me in the comments.