Turning to Dr. Google: On sane self-diagnosis

I have a (kind of bad) habit of self-diagnosing on google. Lately, my searches have included things related to my back injury (from dropping a barbell on it in August), to the (likely associated) IT band pain I’ve been having when I try to run, to exercise-induced asthma and bronchitis, to obsessive compulsive disorder. There’s something in me that wants to find an answer.

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I can remember vividly the kind of comfort I felt when I came across websites about the Female Athlete Triad. According to good old Wikipedia, this is “a syndrome in which eating disorders (or low energy availability), amenhorrhoea/oligomenorrhoa, and decreased bone mineral density (osteoporosis and osteopenia) are present. …[T]his condition is seen in females participating in sports that emphasize leanness or low body weight.” At the time, I was not having a period, I was pretty light, and I had received DEXA results that said my bones were not where they should be for a girl my age. I fit the bill—and I was so glad to have something outside of me.

It’s not my fault.

That’s the thought that I had.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort from knowing that it’s not your fault, but with things like my eating disorder–where it remains tough to know what was biology and what was going on with my own choices—I think it’s worth noting that not being at fault and not being able to help it are very different.

With this week’s searches, I think I was looking for relief. From the guilt of worrying that I’m being a pansy with my leg pain, or that I’m too anxious—from things that I bring onto myself. I want it to be outside of me, even though at the end of the day, the problem doesn’t go away with the addition of a label. When I realized I had that Female Athlete Triad, it wasn’t like there was a pill to make it disappear. In the end, the shifts happened when I tackled what I could with the support of others. It required taking responsibility, which can be hard when we’re convinced that we aren’t at fault.

That self-diagnosis represents a relief.

It’s not our fault.

We have a condition, outside of us.

Does this mean that the responsibility is removed?

 

So, if I have a certain condition, I try to think, What caused it in the first place? What can I do to fix it? With the triad example, it was my eating disorder. And with my eating disorder, there were a lot of factors—many of which were up to me to choose differently around. Later, I turned to “adrenal fatigue” to make myself feel better for running myself into the ground. Solution? Take the stress off of my body, little by little–whether the condition existed or not. Basically: Slow. Down. Via different choices.

Knowing this, I still get sucked into the interwebs when I’m not feeling great about something going on with my body. I hope that if you’re a googler like me, you can notice what you’re after when you start turning to Dr. Google to make you feel better. My leg hurts when I run—knowing the name given to the pain I’m experiencing is less important than taking a break and coming back to it with a game plan to run pain free. I’m noticing some weird coping tendencies and some extra anxiety—whether or not this is clinical matters a whole lot less than dealing with what’s driving me to them. Etc. etc. etc.

All of this being said, I don’t want to discount the way that knowing that we aren’t entirely at fault when it comes to our health is not a bad thing. Back to that eating disorder—knowing that I had power but was not to blame was what let me take charge and decide to recover—and kept me going when the going got tough. I say we use our labels to make informed choices, not to let us off the hook or as some strange form of comfort that stops us from taking the best care of ourselves.

ek care

Do you self-diagnose on google?
Do you feel better knowing that you “have” something?

10 ways to stay on track, even when you can’t work out

’tis the season for flus, colds, and all kinds of ways to feel yucky that can derail even the most committed New Years resolution-ers who’ve decided to make 2015 their year to get fit. I was sick over Christmas with some form of bronchitis/pneumonia/bug that is finally starting to clear up.

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While I was definitely frustrated–I hate being sidelined whether it’s because my schedule is crazy, I’m sick, or I’m dealing with some kind of injury–I actually appreciate the time off that forced me to get organized out of sheer boredom. The experience got me to thinking, because in the past when I’ve gotten hurt I’ve been absolutely miserable about it.

So what are some things we can do to stay positive and even to set ourselves up for a healthier start when we do get back to our normal selves? If you’re sick, snowed in, or just finding yourself with free time, here are ten of my best ideas for getting yourself on track towards healthy:

  1. Make a playlist for your first workout back. It’s probably going to be a struggle, so you might as well have something to motivate you in the background. Bonus points if you also delete the same old playlist you’ve been using for 5 years and download lots of Britney in its place.
  2. Organize your workout clothes. I’m going to guess that yours could use a re-folding. There’s something so nice about opening up your closet and being able to find the top you want or the tights you need, especially if you workout in the morning and have approximately 10 seconds to do this before your partner wakes up and grunts.
  3. Clean out your gym bag. I am the queen of carrying too many things–lugging my workout bag to the gym is part of my workout. With my toys for CrossFit and weightlifting, two or sometimes three pairs of shoes, and then my shower necessities, it can be hard to fit a water bottle or a set of clothes in my (large) bag. For this reason, I need to clean out anything extraneous in the darn thing on the regular to make sure I don’t lose a shoe in the parking lot (again).
  4. Set a fitness goal or two. What is that big goal that you really wish you could achieve when it comes to your fitness? Is it lifting a certain amount of weight or finishing a certain race? Is it beating an old PR? Write down what you want to do and when you want to do it–it’s the first step in making it happen.
  5. Make a vision board. If you’re crafty and in the habit of setting goals, a vision board is a great way to make yourself a visual reminder of what you want to create in your life. You’ll love the feeling of looking at it every day–think instant motivation plus a feeling of pride when you start to see those things becoming your reality!

    My most recent vision board (right next to a reminder I need). It could use some updating, because things on there keep on happening in my life! Imagine that...

    My most recent vision board (right next to a reminder I need). It could use some updating, because things on there keep on happening in my life! Imagine that…

  6. Organize your tupperware situation. This trivial task is actually really important: if you don’t have anywhere to store your healthy food, how the heck will you make it? There’s nothing better than having a fridge stocked with healthy food that’s ready to grab when you’re hangry or rushed out the door and there is nothing worse than packing chili in a ziploc bag because all your tupperwares are in your trunk.
  7. Find a few healthy recipes to try. We are all creatures of habit, but variety is the spice of life. With the interwebs, there’s no excuse for not trying new recipes. Type in what you have in your cupboard and fridge and ta-dah!, you’ll have a recipe that works. I prefer cookbooks however, so if you’re like me, why not bookmark some recipes you’ve been meaning to try and make a point of planning them into your meals for the next week? Nomnomnom.
  8. Read an inspirational biography. If you’re pretty sick, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the couch. Rather than watching the whole Harry Potter series start to finish, why not mix in some reading of the type that motivates you? Some of my favourites are people’s stories, like Dara Torres’ (Age is Just a Number), Chrissie Wellington’s (A Life Without Limits), Cheryl Strayed’s (Wild), and Kathryn Bertine’s (The Road Less Taken). 
  9. Watch a sports documentary. I don’t mountain bike or snowboard, but my boyfriend is into these sports and so I’ve caught myself watching a video or two of them and getting fired up. Whatever you do, seeing someone do what they do at their best can be supremely motivating. Try this one…
  10. Get some rest. There’s a reason you’re sick, and the sooner you take a nap, the sooner you’ll be back at it–whatever it is.
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If you are feeling sick, I hope you feel better in a jiffy. I also hope that even if you’re not, you’ll do one of these things–you’ll be fitter for it!

What keeps you positive when you can’t work out?

Here goes nothing

 

 

 

Oh hey there!

I’m home-ish so of course it’s back to regular posting for me. I missed you guys like crazy and I definitely missed having a place to check in and get feedback and all that good stuff daily. Who knew I loved blogging quite so much?

I’ll give more updates on my trip when I’m not in pre-race mode (doesn’t every triathlete spend their race day morning blogging? I think it’s a normal pre-race activity and worth getting up a few minutes earlier). To be honest, I don’t have a pre-race routine. Today my goal is to keep my breakfast down–I’m going to spare you the gory details of my GI experiences for the last 48 hours but it’s enough to say that I think I got a dose of some kind of bug or ate something that didn’t agree with me because it’s not been pretty. Or maybe I’m dehydrated, or maybe all the “weird” food that I’ve been eating, or all the excitement, or who knows…but the result is that my tummy has been sorting itself out for a few days!

That being said, I’m going to look at today as a chance to see lots of friends and to get a good workout with a bunch of new training partners ;). I’ll definitely be listening to my body and pushing myself accordingly.

…oh wait, that’s what all my races are like. Anyways, this is a 400m swim, 18km bike ride, and 4km run and I am starting to get excited now that I THINK this bland breakfast is going to sit. My stomach was growling when I woke up (no surprise there), so I am going with it.

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Some of my friends are also racing this race — so good luck to them! Like I said, mine is short and sweet. It’s a gorgeous day today so I’m hoping that the water feels nice and toasty so I don’t have to squeeze into my wetsuit. Truth be told, I don’t think it will zipper. I had an “OMG I LOOK LIKE A SAUSAGE” moment when I put on my tri shorts yesterday. I feel bloated after my trip and a bit confused because of all the food struggles I had for the last two week, but as I start to calm down from it all I’m realizing that I learned a lot and probably needed to struggle through this to get to where I’m going. How’s that for an unexpected lesson, yet again? It kind of reminds me of this post on health bent about finding motivation in frustration, which I know I’ve linked to before but like I said, it’s a reminder! 🙂 I came back to some reasons for why I gave up ED in the first place, some quotes about trusting your process, some friends and family members who gave me some good encouragement last night, and just being gentle with myself and I feel like I’m in a much better mood today.

I’m stifling any sausage thoughts (get your mind out of the gutter, you sickos!) and replacing them with some catchy songs that I heard way too much on our road trip:

Anyways, at the expense of running late and not getting the best spot in transition area (this is a joke, PS), I’m gonna wrap this up and talk to y’all later…wish me luck!

What I’m looking forward to most today = sleeping in my own bed tonight! Hallelujah–I like me some travelling but being gone for over 10 days is a long time!

 

It’s about time

Nah, I’m not talking about my race time from tonight’s Go the Distance race, but I do feel pretty content with my 41:36 8km time. I also feel good knowing that the money raised from the event went to such a good cause. I saw quite a few familiar faces at the race, including one friend who raised over $1000 for Hope’s Garden. AMAZING! She ROCKS.

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They sent home the age group winners (2nd and 3rd too) with gift cards for Runner’s Choice (a running store here in London) so I have $10 to buy…something. Suggestions? I felt pretty sick during the race. My stomach is off and I found the chest cold I thought was pretty much gone. Things were clicking and snapping and hurting so you better believe I have a date with my foam roller and I think I need to rededicate not just to doing those awesome strength workouts I’m so fired up about (I started a box of WODs and ripped out routines from magazines and posted a teaser about bootcamp on Facebook today) but also to stretching, foam rolling, wearing my compression socks, and doing the little muscle work that I know is important for injury prevention. Promise!

I’m not sure what was up with my stomach. Nerves? I found myself nibbling all kinds of things this afternoon–I’m definitely one of those stress eaters. I did a pretty good job of fuelling today though, I’d say. I went to yoga this morning. I blogged. I sort of cleaned. My mom came for a quick visit and ran some errands and read some magazines with me (I’m a sucker for this month’s fitness mags since they’ve all got Olympic specials in them!). I sat around. 🙂

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Now I am so glad to be done for the day. I’m pooped and my stomach feels off! Must be a combination of a busy week, weird eats, the race, and everything catching up to me but I just want to foam roll and face plant into bed. Laundry can wait. Dishes can wait. Sleep is essential! I just had some chocolate (dark–bring on those antioxidants) so cravings are satisfied. I am thinking cough syrup and bedtime are in order. Not going to get sucked into Facebook, into another Jillian Michaels podcast (I think I’ve heard 5 today–catching up on old ones!), or into reading blogs (sorry guys). I am hoping to go home for a bike ride in the morning tomorrow and then come back for some fun with friends in London tomorrow. Somewhere in the next 4 days I’ve got a lot of studying to do…gonna worry about that later! 🙂 I’m preoccupied with how excited I am for finishing the tasks on my summer bucket list, having time to read non-school things at my leisure, for the opening of the outdoor pool (sweet one piece tan, let’s go), and for starting bootcamp<–especially this, but I guess if you’re going to be distracted it might as well be distracted by awesome.

How do you unwind after a long week?
Have you ever raced an 8k? What’d you think of the distance? – For me, I prefer 10k because it’s a bit more comfortable. Or maybe just familiar and I wasn’t sure how hard to push, or maybe it was the cold, or maybe I’m over thinking this! I had a good run and I was on the edge of my comfort zone and those kinds of workouts are important so I’m going to call it all a success. 😀
What are you doing this weekend?