4. Listen to Your Body

This piece of advice does not come from anyone in particular. In fact, many people throughout my life, from my mother and on to my teammates have suggested that we need to do a better job at listening to our bodies. Since I am thirty now, I figure I should have a suggestion for myself and for others. So, everyone… listen to your body.

Somewhere along the line, I think we forgot how to do this.  But our bodies are magical and have developed and adapted in order for us not only to survive, but thrive. Too often we ignore the signals that our bodies send us and end up sick, tired or even in danger. We ignore the exhaustion because we have a deadline. We toss aside cravings because how in the world could eating a pint of ice cream actually help? And the gut feeling that something isn’t right is disregarded and taken for foolish nerves. Our bodies are designed to protect us, so why don’t we listen? That’s a question that I don’t have time for. However, I will tell you some stories about what I have learned.

For the past week to two weeks I decided to make a concentrated effort to listen to my body, heed its warnings and do so all without guilt. End results? Remarkable. For seemingly no reason at all I started to feel extremely tired sometime early last week. I pushed through it and continued on with my routine, but I longed for bed from the moment I woke up until the moment I was back in bed. Apparently that was not enough for me (hence the idea for this post) so my uterus attacked me. I had no choice but to go to work a little late and when I came home that night I decided to stay home from practice. I slept for 12 hours. Uninterrupted for 12 hours. How? I have no idea. Did I need it? Apparently. Was I a raging ball of energy for the next few days? Yes. And now my sleep cycle feels balanced.

I have also really started to listen to my aches and pains. Playing rugby is not easy on one’s body and I’ve started to notice that with old age comes more pain 😉 Since I would like my body to work even after I stop playing rugby, I am now paying more attention to these aches. All athletes have at least one of these three as a best friend: a tiger tail, foam roller or epsom salt. I have begun to utilize  at least two of these on a daily basis. I no longer give myself a quick 5 minute stretch and believe I am ready to go knock people on their asses. I take my time. I am learning not to feel rushed and to be OK with the fact that I might need to love (in terms of warm-up) my body a little bit more than a 21-year-old. I am finding that when I respect my body, my body respects me.

Food. This is a sensitive area and I am no nutritionist, but I follow some fairly general guidelines. Drink lots of water for all the reasons that people say. I try to eat healthy and make sure I have a balanced diet. However, I do not feel guilty when I have chicken wings and fries for lunch or if I buy a pint of ice cream and before I realize it, the neighbors must have eaten it–did I even have any?! Why? Because life is about balance. For the most part, I hold the belief that cravings are the body’s way of telling you that you’re lacking something. When I was in high school and had preseason for soccer, I am sure that dinner at least every other night was a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s. I was burning off a million calories and my body was panicking; it thought I was going to starve. It was screaming “Fat! Give Me FAT!” Next time you go through a phase when you have a craving for something, think about what is in that food and what your body might be trying to tell you. You just might learn something.

Emotions. I can be an emotional basket case– I am learning to accept that. However, I no longer want to apologize for when I feel sad or angry or even happy. I am a freaking human and not a robot, people! Sometimes I just need to cry. Why? I literally haven’t the slightest idea, but I do know that most of the time I feel better after I do– so apparently there was something cathartic about it.  Do I have days when I am so happy and vivacious that people want to kill me? I certainly do. Do I also have days where even rainbows and unicorns would want to hide from me? Sure thing. Maybe our body releases pent-up energy in different ways. Maybe there is some subconscious memory that makes us cry on a random Tuesday afternoon. Maybe our body is just trying to remind us to feel. Either way, listen to your emotions and feelings. Deal with them as best as you can, accept that they are there and move forward.

I think if we took a bit more time and paid attention we could be happier and healthier. My fourth goal for 30 is to better listen to my body. And with any luck I will still be listening  at the age of 90.

This is just the beginning. This is thirty.

If you listen to your body when it whispers….you won’t have to hear it scream.

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3. Break Routine in Small Ways

Guess who’s back! This was a bit longer of a break than I had expected, but c’est la vie. I had a great vacation, my best friend got married, I settled back into post vacation routine and got to visit my long-time friend, Jacquelyn (are you happy now)?! However, this past week I started to implement my mother’s advice to me.

My mom suggested that I begin to break routine in small ways. She shared with me that it can help to refresh my enthusiasm for day-to-day living. Some of her suggestions for breaking routine were as follows: walk to work using a different route, try a different flavor ice cream or go to a different grocery store. My mom pointed out that the possibilities are endless and these little variations allow us a different point of view each and every day.

To be quite honest, I think I chose a pretty awful week to try this advice out. Seeing as since I am just getting back from vacation and I am trying to re-establish a routine, mixing it up seems quite silly. However, if you’ve met me, I am sure you can agree that I am not all too conventional or logical at times– so what the heck?! I started mixing things up by changing out my eating habits. Now– this may have a little (a lot) to do with the fact that I was just in France and the wedding I was in was half French, but breakfast became bread (baguette) and Nutella. Normally for lunch I will have chicken and some vegetables. However, since I was trying to add variation and vacation has you eating like you will die tomorrow (carbs, carbs, fat, sugar, grease, MEAT & all the alcohol)… my lunch became vegetables and fruits. My snacks were cheese and almonds. Dinner has never been set, but this past week it was bread and cheese! I actually found that I was more satisfied and full throughout the day. Maybe I am on to something…

The next variation I tried was taking different routes to the train station. Usually I am on auto-pilot when I walk to work. I turn at the exact same streets, cross at the same streets and on most days I have my walking paced out so I don’t have to stop at lights. I don’t know if I am impressed or ashamed about that. So, I took different routes each day this week, which in turn had me stopping at traffic lights and almost getting hit by cars. It made me get my brain in gear much sooner than I normally would in the morning. Also, my friend Melissa would like me to point out that varying routine (specifically walking) will help me not to get abducted by a serial killer and she was right– I have not been abducted this week!

I tried to change some other small things about my day such as working out (really I was just too lazy to do it) and the order in which I completed my tasks at work. Now, to be quite honest, these variations did not make my mundane rituals much more exciting. However, what it did do was what I said before, make me think more. It exercised my brain and I had to be more alert. Some variations were more enjoyable such as the eating, other variations just put off what I would need to do anyway (work variations). This advice has helped me to realize that we do tend to get stuck in routines (or ruts) and it is important to spice up our life (hey Spice Girl fans). This is certainly advice that I will continue to implement when I find myself dragging my feet as I walk through life. Because life should be exciting! And maybe someday while I walking a different route to work I will happen across a $20 floating in the air (wishful thinking) or the first tree succumbing to autumn. By going into a different grocery store I might find that ever elusive Tamarillo and be able to make the most delicious juice ever. You never know what can happen by changing your habits. You never know what might happen when you make yourself available to mini adventures. You never know what you can learn by asking 30 people for advice. You’ll never know if you never try.

This is Thirty.

“Sometimes chaos is the very thing that deliberately shakes up our neatly ordered world’s in order to get us out of the neatly ordered ruts that have kept us stuck.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

“As I discover, everyday is an adventure…so do what ever the Spirit tells you..don’t do things out of drudgery or obligation…each day will unfold as it should…stay restful and try not to be in a hurry…there are things that can wait, and things we don’t really need at all…don’t be a slave to the everyday routine…we’ve all been programmed to do things, “just so”..try to shed the programming…you will be surprised how some things that hassle our minds aren’t really important at all. And most of all, go out and heal with nature”
― Angie karan

PS: I did a horrendous job at keeping an impatience log. However, I have been trying to be mindful of what makes me impatient. There is still more to come for Advice #2.