Friday, September 1, 2017

When exercise becomes unhealthy Part I

Hurricane Harvey had me thinking a lot about my experience during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

2012 was kind of a crazy year for me. I had started a new job in November, 2011, so I was still learning the ropes in 2012. I ran my first (and still my fastest) half marathon in April. I was planning a wedding, got married in June. I then left that job I had started in 2011 for another one right after the wedding. Oh, I ran my second half marathon in September. And then I went on my honeymoon a week later. While I was away, my grandmother died, which was pretty hard on my dad's side of the family. I began another serious job search. So... yeah. A lot happened.

Right before Hurricane Sandy, I was hit with an infection. I had a nasty abscess under my arm - I used to get these frequently in college, but hadn't had one in about ten years. I had attributed the abscesses to being overweight, and figured they were a thing of the past since I had dropped about 20 lbs and kept it off. So I was very surprised to see one return. Maybe it had nothing to do with weight, and everything to do with stress...

In any case, I went to see a doctor, who suspected it might be MRSA and gave me a powerful antibiotic to fight it. I didn't get better, though... I got worse. For two and a half weeks, I suffered, and woke up one final morning covered in hives. Turns out I was allergic to the antibiotic they gave me.

Between that experience and a glimpse into the "End of Days" that was Sandy, I knew something had to change. I began to question what my existence had become.

1. Why was I getting sick all of the time? Even before the MRSA problem, I was always frequently feeling run down.
2. Why was I job hopping all of the time? Before 2013, I hadn't held the same job in a calendar year since 2005. Anxiety wasn't the whole reason for that, but definitely a major part of it from 2011-2013... coincidentally around the time I began training for half marathons.
3. And why could I show so much control and delayed gratification in so many facets of my life - exercise, finances, volunteering - but could NOT get my eating disorder under control?

So I can pinpoint that late 2012, right after Sandy hit, is when I started to look into unconventional approaches to solving my issues. Because "diet and exercise" weren't really getting me anywhere I wanted to go. My initial search lead me to read Wheat Belly by William Davis, and I started my first public blog in 2013 about my experience trying to kick wheat and gluten grains from my diet. Spoiler alert: it failed.

Now, what's the most logical next step to take when one has trouble restricting one item from his or her diet? Why, find an even MORE restrictive diet, of course! In 2014, I found Paleo and started reading things like Mark's Daily Apple and It Starts with Food (aka the Whole30 or Whole 9 Life). Yet what drew me to these resources was not so much the attention they gave to food, although food featured prominently... it was the information they provided on living a healthy lifestyle.

And that nudged me towards the fact that I needed to quit running cold turkey.

Which is why I started this blog in 2015. Because I wanted to stop running... except I didn't want to do it until after I got a sub 2 half marathon. So here I am, still running, and maybe that's a dumb thing to do.

But maybe it's not.

Because it's easy for me to look back NOW at all of the signals my body was giving me in 2012 (well... from 2009 to 2015) to stop running so HARD, start eating more, and maybe take a break once in a while.

And I'm not getting a single one of those signals today.

Ok, I lied. One is still kinda hanging around.

Star Wars Han Solo shrugging
And I'm not 100% sure what to do about that. 
Tomorrow, I'll share what those signals were in the event you are experiencing any of them... so that maybe you can recognize if you might be in the run/eat/repeat cycle, and get some help getting out of it sooner rather than later.

No comments:

Post a Comment