Pain is Built To Last?

For the last few months, I have been having trouble sleeping.  Not insomnia as such, just difficulty drifting off.  I have been putting it down to having a lot on my mind, and too little down time.  On the nights when I teach, I am always pumped full of adrenaline and can have a hard time coming down.  It isn’t a huge problem, but for someone who loves their sleep as much as I do, it can prove hugely frustrating.

While my husband was away, I was convinced I would have the best sleep ever, but sadly that wasn’t the case.   I tried my side of the bed, his side of the bed.  Inside the covers, outside the covers.  I practiced breathing techniques and meditation.  Nothing worked.  Lying alone, in the dark, replaying every bad decision and awkward conversation of my life, I became aware that the position I was lying in wasn’t just uncomfortable, it was actually painful.  It struck me as odd that I was so in my head, I had failed to even notice what was going on with my body.  Since then, there have been several other occasions when I have noticed the same thing.  Whether it be sitting in work, or standing funny and generally being oblivious to the signals my body is giving to me.

It made me start to wonder just how often we put up with discomfort or even pain?  How many times have you ignored that niggling tooth?  Are you guilty of down playing injuries in the hope they would magically resolve themselves?  Have there been times when you have postponed a trip to the GP, which eventually became unavoidable?  I know I certainly have!  Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we should run to the medical professionals at the first sign of discomfort.  Not many of us have the time or money to allow us to do that, even if we wanted to.  What I am hinting at, however, is that our bodies are probably smarter than we are.  Pain is a sign that something is wrong.  Dulling it and ignoring it, are not long term solutions.

Physical pain isn’t the only thing we are experts at compartmentalising.  We often sweep psychological and emotional issues under the giant rug as well.  We put up with shitty relationships, unfulfilling jobs, and even terrible friendships for far longer than we should.  I know for me, the reason for this is usually stubborn pigheadedness.  To walk away from something, even if it isn’t working, feels like admitting defeat.  It makes me question myself “what is wrong with me?” “why can’t I fit in like everyone else?”  This examination is so uncomfortable, it’s often easier to just ignore the elephant in the room.

The biggest example of this in my own life is probably my academic career.  As a child, I was always told I was bright and clever.  Destined for great things.  It was pretty much preordained that I would go to University.  So, I got in and off I went.  The trouble was, when I got there, I absolutely hated it.  I studied English, which is my first love, and absolutely enthralled me, but college life definitely was not for me.  I didn’t fit in.  I didn’t make friends.  The ten or so contact hours a week, were far too few to keep me engaged.  In short, I was completely miserable.  Determined to be “successful” at it, I stuck it out.  Three years later, I achieved my degree (which I have never “used”)  By that time, I was also deeply depressed, and looking back on in now, I believe this time to be the root of my disordered relationship with food.  But that’s a story I not quite ready to tell!

To this day, I strongly believe in the merits of follow through.  It’s so important to do the things you say you’re going to do.  I can’t stand flaky people and find them essentially impossible to deal with.  A friend of mine once gave me the mantra “Decide, Commit, Succeed.”  I think she borrowed if from some gimmicky exercise program, but I identified with the message.  However, the older I get, and the more experience I have dealing with uncomfortable situations, the more I realise “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away and know when to run.”  Walking away from something which no longer serves you, is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.

This philosophy of mine has been tested lately.  I was offered a new job.  The new role sounds exciting and challenging.  It presents opportunity for growth and development, as well as stimulation.  The trouble is, I am comfortable in my current job.  It’s close to home.  My gym is around the corner, which means I can train on my lunch break.  The people are lovely and there’s no conflict.  However, it doesn’t present the same opportunities.  Should I sacrifice my current comfort for the sake of potential future growth?  It was a really difficult decision.  As is always the case with hard choices, there was no obvious “right” course of action.  There was an opportunity cost associated with both options.

In the end, I decided to accept the new job.  I am excited to get started and really looking forward to the challenge.  Of course, there are a few other things going on!!  Impostor syndrome is kicking in.  My inner critic is shouting so loud, she is almost drowning out everything else.  She is telling me I won’t be able for it, and who do I think I am to even try!  She’s a bitch!  There is also a tiny seed of doubt in the back of my mind.  Questioning if I am doing the right thing.  Wondering if I will live to regret my decision.

The thing is, it really doesn’t matter.  I fully expect the new job to be awesome, but if it turns out to be a complete disaster, who cares?  I am not entering into indentured servitude.  If it’s not for me, I can go back to the drawing board and try again.  We all have within us, the power to reinvent ourselves as often as we want or need to.   I think it is really important that we make time to check in with ourselves on a regular enough basis.  Ask yourself how everything is going.  Is there any area of your life that needs to be changed, or even just given more attention?  It is so easy to keep going through the motions and not even notice that there is a stone in your shoe.  Be well xxx


Comfort Zones and Leaps of Faith

I recently mentioned in a Facebook post that the last week has been truly amazing for me.  Let me fill you in on what’s being going on.  Last weekend I attended the Sigma Nutrition Seminar with Danny Lennon MSc.  It was a wonderful weekend.  I learned so much, met some cool people and got to spend two whole days listening to one of the most interesting, intelligent and articulate people in the industry.  I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

I booked the seminar months ago and even though it was fully paid for, I must have nearly talked myself out of going 100 times.  I was filled with anxiety and plagued with impostor syndrome.  What if people thought I didn’t belong there?  I knew that the attendees were likely to be experiences fitness professionals and elite athletes.  What right did I have to place myself among them?  What if I didn’t know enough to be able to keep up with the lectures?  I tortured myself with these thoughts and many like them for weeks, turning it over and over in my mind, until it finally hit me.  Me worrying about not knowing enough to be able to learn is just as flawed as people saying they’re not fit enough to join the gym!  It was utterly ridiculous.  The fact that I had paid my money and was willing to learn gave me just as much right to be there as anyone else.

Something else that happened this week was also pretty special.  I ran my first two Parent & Child Cookery Workshops.  Again, although this is something I have wanted to do for a long time, I kept finding excuses not to.  I kept thinking of new reasons why I wasn’t ready.  Basically, I couldn’t get out of my own way.  Despite my initial reservations, on the night, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be.  Perhaps excitement took over or perhaps I was just too busy getting everything organised to have time for nerves.  Both workshops went really well.  What could be better than having a captive audience to chat to and having a chance to demonstrate something you are truly passionate about?

So, why am I telling you all this?  It’s simple.  Way too many of us spend far too long in our comfort zones.  Terrified to take a risk, suffering from paralysis by analysis.  I was like this for far too long, fretting over tiny decisions that don’t even matter.  Worrying about what other people might think and trying to please everyone.  It got me nowhere.  There are a million different cliches I could trot out like “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and “the greater the risk, the greater the potential for joy,” but I don’t need to, we have heard them all a million times.

What I will say is this, don’t be afraid.  Comfort zones are a good place to rest, but a terrible place to live.  Doing something which scares you a little, will be guaranteed to make you feel alive.  When you want something, go after it.  So what if you fail!  Ask yourself what is the worst case scenario?  If that’s something you can live with, take the risk.  In almost 100% of cases, even if things don’t work out, it’s never as bad as we had imagined.  Even if you fail spectacularly, which happens to us all at times, at least you can honestly tell yourself that you gave it your best shot.

If you are serious about making changes in your life be they nutrition related, fitness related or anything else, you are going to have to get used to feeling uncomfortable along the way.  True and meaningful change can be a painful thing, there is no getting away from that.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it worth it?  Take the leap and find out xxx