Happy New Year for 2016!
Okay I admit I’m a whole 30 days late, but at least I’m still getting in before January is over, right?
Hope you were able to have some time off with family and friends over the festive season.
For those in the northern hemisphere, hope you’re keeping warm.
For those in the southern hemisphere, how amazing is Summer?
I am so sun burnt right now, it’s crazy. My mom thinks I’ve progressively moved from caramel chocolate to milk chocolate and right now I’m merging into dark chocolate with a mop of beach-salt & high humidity induced curly hair!
But I love all things summer. Summer fruits. Summer days. Summer warmth. Summer clothes. Bare skin. Sandals. Summer salads. Homemade ice-teas. Beach. Sand. There is just something relaxing and refreshing about summer. Outdoor swimming. Hiking. Sweating. Running through the sprinkler. Water bombs. Fruit slushy ice-blocks.
Right now, I’m still on holiday (amazing right, 2.5 weeks break, 2 weeks work, 2.5 weeks holidays again!) in Queensland.
2015 was a tough year for me. I started the year off on the 6 January 2015 with viral meningitis (crazy I know). Still don’t know how I managed to get so sick. And then a major head injury after being punched. I spent over 10 months in rehab (all while working) to regain my hearing and treat serious vertigo. Unsuprisingly, my sleep took a hit, my health took more of a hit, and in an attempt to maintain the same level of work output, I developed Adrenal Gland Fatigue bordering Chronic Fatigue.
My one saving grace was that my diet had/has/is pretty much on par with good nutrition. If it weren’t for that, I’d have buckled under the pressures and stresses much sooner. However I had gained 10kg (58kg – 68kg) – in 1 year! Minimal sleep, constant high stress, can do major damage for you. I’ve never liked sweet things my whole life – fruit yes, but I have never been into creamy cakes, ice-creams, pastries, caramel, chocolates etc. After seeing me eat a whole block of chocolate, my mom knew there was something majorly wrong and made me see a stress doctor.
And so I’ve started the path back to getting my life back on track from November last year.
Initially I had to take a few different medications to help with the sleep and force my adrenal gland to slow down it’s production of adrenal hormone. I also started taking a probiotic to help my gut microflora get back on track and Magnesium sulfate which helps with sleep and stopping the cravings for sickly sweet stuff.
From struggling to sleep 1 hour a night, I’m back up to 8 hours weekdays and 10 hours on weekends. I feel like a brand new person – just from sleep! And as I progressively get back to training again, I know that the strength will come back again. But it is all about mindset.
This post is not a lesson in nutrition planning or an 8-week exercise regime to get you your best summer body. This post is about mindset.
I’m naturally a competitive person – with myself. I get an B+ on an exam, next time round I need to get an A or A+. Being driven can be both a blessing and curse. As a trainer I know what to do when it comes to getting the most optimal workout for lean gains and ripping fat. But when the body is severely stressed, tired, over-worked and crashing, going for a 10km run for the sake of running is not productive on any front.
This year I’ve started with a new mindset. Slow and steady wins the race. The fastest, toughest route is not always the best option usually because it is not the most sustainable. Put it this way, previously I would run 30mins every morning, swim 1 hour x 4 days per week, HIIT 60mins x 5 days per week, resistant train 1 hour x 3 days per week, reformer pilates 1 hour x 5 sessions per week and walk 1 hour every days. Pretty full on! But I loved it. However when one is severely unwell, injured and under a lot of work-related stress, the body is crashing. It is ludicrous that I though I could simply do all those things again. On the work front, there are changes taking place this year. But on the life front, I am the one who has needed to make changes. I want to get back to where i was 15 months ago. Before viral meningitis, a 1-punch to the head and a lop-sided workload changed my world.
First things first. I got a Dexa Scan done at the end of 2015 with follow up sessions in April, September and December of this year. To keep me on track. I like goals to work towards, and being a scientist I like numbers. I want to see a progression in bone density, lean tissue and a decrease in adipose tissue over the ensuing 12-18 months. I know what motivates me. What motivates you?
For the whole month of January I have been focusing on going to bed early… I used to only drop off to sleep at 4am after tossing and turning because of the over-production of adrenal hormone with stress levels through the roof. But I’ve progressively worked my way down from 4am to 2am to 1am to 12.30am to 11.30pm to 11pm… right now I’m sleeping by 10.30pm allowing my body to automatically wake up at 7am the next day. I’m super excited that I am actually yawning by 9.45pm. My aim is to be asleep by 9.30pm so that I can wake up at 5.30am.
I have also been resuming my walking habit. No work until a 30min walk. I listen to a podcast when I walk. It’s great. Just me, the podcast and 30mins of cruising. I’m not stressing myself, it’s not a race. This is just a walk for enjoyment, relaxation, and getting into the right mindset from the get go. And finishing off the day with another 1 hour walk again.
After 3 weeks, I’ve now incorporated a 30min swim x 3 mornings of the week. I’m not racing against my lap count (although I do record it), rather it is just about focusing on breathing and enjoying quiet time doing something that has not impact on my joints.
And from 1st Feb I’ll be including 30min KB session 3 days of the week. Small changes slowly and gradually. Getting more sleep and taking ownership of my life and my health as a priority has resulted in losing 4kg without doing a whole lot.
My weight has dropped down by 4kg already.
While “relaxation” is so important in maintaining health, true relaxation can only come after one takes ownership of their actions. After the punch to the head, I was asked to see a psychologist for a while. Which I did. I learnt somethings from her. Especially about how important it is to relax and get perspective of circumstances. While she gave a whole lot of resource on mindfulness, lying down in a room listening to breathing cues, etc., I find it just doesn’t “do it” for me. I have had to make up my mind to do what “does it” for me.
Mindset is so important. We’re already 1 month into the year, and I’ve already written 2 articles, planned the lecturing schedule for 2 subjects and a new academic and planned the pilot study for a research student. I’m more productive because I’m taking care of me first.
Like good nutrition and physical exercise, mindset is a way of life that needs to be maintained E.V.E.R.Y. single day.
So what is your mindset looking like? What can you do to add 30mins of quality “me-time” to your day?
“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back” – Arthur Rubinstein.