How To: RELAX!

Is your to-do list a mile long?  Do you feel like for every one thing you cross off it, you get at least two more?  Are you finding it harder and harder to keep up with the juggling act of keeping all the balls in the air when it comes to your responsibilities?

This week on my Instagram video series and Facebook posts, I asked if you were constantly STRESSED OUT.  I certainly was!  It turns out that working full-time, running my own business, working out and training, and being a wife and mother ALL AT THE SAME time without adequate down-time was NOT a good idea.  I found myself dealing with mental fogginess, fatigue, unexpected and unwanted weight gain and, quite frankly, shitty sleep (pardon my French).

It was the last one that broke the camel’s back, actually.  You mess with my sleep; you are asking for trouble.  I’m not willing to put up with poor-quality ANYTHING for any length of time, so I did what I always do: I called in the experts.  Oh sure, I’ll check out what “Dr. Google” has to say, but I’m not going to waste much time on figuring things out for myself when there are certified, trained and experienced professionals out there who are PAID to leverage their expertise on my behalf.

It might have been my type A, do-everything approach that caused me issues in the first place, but in true type A fashion, in the span of a week I saw: my GP; not one but TWO naturopathic doctors (gotta love a third opinion, right?); my psychologist; a registered massage therapist AND an acupuncturist.  Go big or go home.

They all, in their own way and own terminology, came to the same conclusion: I was doing too much and needed to slow down.  My favourite?  My acupuncturist’s verdict: “You do not have enough ‘yin'” (where ‘yin’ is the quiet, restful, darkness and calm “negative” or absence of doing that is the necessary counterpart to ‘yang,’ the action-oriented, aggressive – the two balancing life forces of the entire universe in traditional Chinese belief systems).

Whether you believe in it or not*, my naturopath trotted out the “tired” phrase “adrenal fatigue” (ba-doom-ching!  Lame pun totally intended!).  I don’t really care what the answer is to the question, “*Is adrenal fatigue real?”  The symptoms were (and are) real for me.  It’s not even that I think my adrenal glands are fatigued or worn out, rather that I am experiencing the effects of chronically elevated cortisol and possibly other stress-related hormones due to the untenable pace of my life, which probably better describes what people are calling “adrenal fatigue” anyway.

I know I *can* do everything, and so I did, without ever questioning whether I *should* or *needed to* (the answer to those last two is a resounding “NO,” in case you’re wondering the same thing about yourself).  Like me, I know you can (and often do) do everything, but guess what?  You don’t *have* to!

The good news for me and for you?  There ARE lots of ways to SLOW DOWN and embrace your yin!  And since you’ve stuck with me through a long-winded introduction (thank you!), here are the goods:

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The Dark Side of IIFYM ( and diets in general)

http://dietsinreview.s3.amazonaws.com/diet_column/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/stress-eating.jpgRemember when I raved about the dietary approach called If It Fits Your Macros, or flexible dieting?  I experienced some significant personal growth with respect to the way I approached and related to food.  I still believe that others can experience these breakthroughs via IIFYM as well. Not to mention, I and countless others have achieved significant changes in our physiques.  But, at what cost? And were those changes sustainable?  As I alluded in my How-To: Take a Break post, following IIFYM for a long-term, continuous basis is not feasible or sustainable.  Like all diet plans and program, “flexible dieting” or If It Fits Your Macros has both benefits and pitfalls for its followers.  I’ll be exploring the less desirable aspects of this program (and other “restriction diets”) in this post.

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How-To: Take a Break

Image source: http://eurythmia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Relax-slider.jpgYou might think from my previous How-To posts on How-To: Track Your Macros and How-To: Track Your Progress that I’m an advocate for relentless, unyielding pursuits of fitness goals, striving to be ever leaner/fitter/faster/stronger.  I’M NOT.  You simply CANNOT continue to push the body without expecting it to push back.  Your body is smarter than your brain, and it is HIGHLY efficient.  Ever wonder about weight loss and/or strength gain plateaus?  You reduce your intake/increase your workouts and yet that one last pound gets harder and harder to lose or lift?  Your body, marvelous machine, has reduced its metabolism and has gotten smarter and more efficient about fueling its required processes with LESS fuel, because you are supplying it with LESS fuel.  Very smart (if only our cars operated on the same principle!).  Similarly, your body has adapted to the stress of the workouts and doesn’t experience the same muscular hypertrophy and strength gains as it previously did under the same or lesser loads.  VERY, very smart!

So, what do we do about this?  Well, in a word – nothing!  That’s right, there’s virtue in kicking back and relaxing!  It’s time to talk about the value of knowing when to strive and knowing when to stop.

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