rest · sleep · traveling · yoga

Sam has a bad flight and is fighting jet lag

I often claim that sleep is my superpower! 

I am one of those people who can sleep almost anywhere, anytime. I sleep on planes and I rarely experience jet lag. My trick is simple: arrive well-rested, spend time outside, make it through the day, and then bang, I’m good to go after a night’s sleep in my new location. It’s a good trick and I benefit lots from it. I’ve flown to New Zealand for four days and returned to work not much the worse for wear.

But right now I’m in Munich, speaking at a conference on Neglected Relationships.

” Personal Relationships have been a topic of philosophical research for quite some time. And rightfully so: they can contribute more to our well-being, give meaning to our lives, and generate salient moral duties and responsibilities. However, the debate has been focused on just a few types of relationships: friendships, the nuclear family, romantic partnership and co-citizenship. In this conference, we aim to explore the focus and explore what we call neglected relationships. These are kinds of relationships that play important part in our personal and moral lives, but that have gone largely underexplored by moral philosophers so far. ” My talk was on chosen family.

My flight turned out to be the Lufthansa equivalent of Air Canada Rouge. (It’s Rouge on the way home, I think.) I’m flying Basic Economy. I flew here on the “overnight” flight–scare quotes because it was just a 5 hour flight. The seats were super small, hard, and uncomfortable. I couldn’t sleep but I also couldn’t work because the person in front of me reclined into my lap. So I arrived sore and scrunched up and very, very tired. Thanks to my compression socks I didn’t have swollen ankles. But my knee hurt a lot from sitting squished into a small space with my knee brace on.

I walked to my hotel and that helped a bit. I napped too before settling down to work on my talk. But I was still really sore. Luckily Yoga with Adrienne came to my rescue! I discovered YWA through the 219 in 2019 fitness challenge group. I knew if I was going to make it to 300 workouts in 2019, I’d need an at home/travel plan. This series of moves really helped with the unscrunching. Indeed, after a day of sitting in talks I might just do it again!

My talk went well. I got some really good comments and I’m looking forward to working on it some more.

Here’s another good thing. Yummy vegetarian/vegan conference food. Also, no single use plastics. These are salads and dressing in glass bowls.

Glass bowls of salad and dressing. Yum!
fitness · rest

Pause: Christine kicks back and rests for a day

This is technically Day 4 of my kicking challenge but I have to insert a rest day.

After I wrote and scheduled my post yesterday my dizziness alternated between better and worse for a couple of hours and then it took a huge turn for the worse.

Then my left arm got tingly and I got scared so I had my son call an ambulance for me. If this was something serious, I wanted immediate help.

I spent Tuesday afternoon in the ER but apparently my symptoms were inconclusive. They have pretty much ruled out anything too serious but I am supposed to pay close attention to how I feel in case I get any other weird symptoms and I am supposed to ‘take it easy.’

I hate directions like ‘take it easy.’

What does ‘take it easy’ even mean? I don’t know what they consider taking it easy. Is that bed rest? Being up but staying at home? Cutting back on my schedule? Mental rest or physical rest? For how long?

A dog with light brown and white fur is sleeping on a bed.
Khalee is not a doctor but, in her opinion, I should definitely lie in bed all day where she can monitor me. She is only resting her eyes, she’s still on guard.

I was too groggy yesterday to ask all of these questions but I have decided to spend most of today lying down. I may do some reading or some writing. (I’m lying down as I write this)

I’m not going to try any kicks today, I’m ‘kicking back’ and relaxing instead.

I’ll check in tomorrow and let you know if I feel up to some exercise.

PS – I really struggle with rest like this. Not because I feel like I shouldn’t rest or that I should be working. My problem is that my ADHD makes it so easy for me to ‘lose’ time that I worry that I will cross the line from necessary rest into avoiding things I need and want to do and not notice that I have crossed it until things have piled up to annoying levels.

fitness · rest · sleep

#NapOrWorkout

Image description: White sleeveless t-shirt that reads “KINDA WANNA WORKOUT> KINDA WANNA TAKE A NAP.”

There’s a social media hashtag that amuses me, #NapOrWorkout.

Mostly the people who use it are sharing about their drive to overcome the desire to nap and make it to the gym. It’s presented as a struggle. And I get it.

But on Twitter there are a few people who are taking it literally, as an actual choice goal. Like when I was in grad school my roommate had this deal with herself each night she’d either floss or do sit-ups. So the Twitter person is treating nap or workout that way. Each day she pledges to either nap or workout. I kinda love it.

Lots of people think that naps are an essential part of self-care.

Have a look at Tracy’s latest post about the Nap Ministry.

Me, I’m online shopping/browsing for deck furniture. I thought about an outdoor desk for writing but then started looking at furniture for napping!

fitness · injury · rest · self care · traveling

Tracy is an osteopath convert

Last week I published about my back troubles that ensued a few days after Anita and I ran the Around the Bay 30K. Lots of people jumped in with sympathy, empathy, encouragement and suggestions. Thank you!

The best suggestion came from Susan and others who recommended I try an osteopath. I know some people have had good results with chiropractors, but I’m deathly afraid of the idea of a snap adjustment. And I was in so much pain there was just no way. So a week after the race I contacted an osteopath who a friend had recommended for my neck issues but I’d never gotten around to calling.

I knew Grace from yoga way back when I did Iyengar yoga and she was in my class. She used to be a nurse and she also taught Iyengar yoga, which is very precise. So o felt confident she had the right knowledge base that I could trust her with my back. By the time I went to see her a week ago, I was in excruciating pain by the end of every day. It usually felt a bit better in the mornings after I’d been lying down for the night. And then ramped up throughout the day until by the evenings it had me weeping and almost unable to move.

Grace got me at the end of the day and could see that I was moving in a hesitant manner by then. Hesitant in that way you move when a possible wrong move will result in searing pain that makes the legs go weak.

She had me stand and then slowly walk so she could size me up. Then she got me on her table…very carefully. And started doing very general manipulations of my body (the best being traction, when she pulled ever so lightly on my feet, which immediately released my back). I told Grace I’d been doing back exercises and stretching and yoga and had gone for a deep tissue massage. And in her view, those were all the wrong things, explaining why it was getting worse not better.

What was the right thing? Rest. Total rest. She showed me two lying down resting postures for releasing my back. They both gave me wonderful relief. She showed me how to get into and out of a lying down position without putting strain on my lower back. She recommended I not sit for more than 15 minutes at a time. If possible, she said, take a day or two off of work.

Things were kind of urgent because I was flying less than a week later (Sunday) for a short trip and then a week after that to China for work. When I saw Grace, the idea of sitting on a plane for any length of time seemed impossible.

So though I couldn’t take a day off until Friday, I did go into hyper rest mode as much as possible, lying on the floor with my legs up on a chair or in “constructive rest” with a heating pad and bolster on my lower abdomen to release the entire area and hopefully reduce the inflammation in my back. Grace suspected the inflammation was pushing up against a nerve and that’s why it hurt so much and get worse as the compression of the day’s sitting took hold.

Friday I went to see the nurse practitioner at my family doctor’s clinic. By then, after following Grace’s instructions for a couple of days I felt way better than I had. Thursday, hardly sitting (I even chaired a meeting at work standing up), I didn’t experience a single spasm. I told the nurse everything I was doing and she said “perfect!” So that was reassuring. Then I saw Grace one more time and she tweaked a few things and off I went. By Saturday I was feeling confident I could fly. Sunday came… no problem on my three and a half hour flight to the Bahamas.

I write this on Monday, a day (with Anita) mixed with work, walking on the beach, swimming, constructive rest, and measured amounts of sitting. I’ve had quite a bit of work reading to do, and I have done most of it in a reclining position on my bed, legs bent at the knees. China doesn’t seem impossible anymore.

Image description: Tracy sitting on a balcony rail wearing ball cap, sunglasses, loose sleeveless top, boyshort swimsuit bottoms and bare legs, smiling, beach and ocean and blue sky in the background

And I’m a total convert to osteopathy after one round of appointments. Thanks, Grace!

Have you ever tried an osteopath?

fitness · injury · rest · running

Tracy’s turn for a sad story

“OUCH!” in red block letters written in marker on a white background.

As I write this I am in bed with a cold pack on my right lower back and just got a text message from a friend who used to be a nurse. It said, “do you think maybe you should see your doctor? It’s not getting better over time?” She was talking about my lower back.

Ever since a couple of days after my Around the Bay 30K two Sundays ago I’ve had almost no sustained relief from a pain in my lower back unless I’m lying down. And even then, to get into a lying down position is a slow and careful process that sometimes leaves me weeping. Getting up from it (or from a chair, or into / out of the car) is similarly difficult.

If I move wrong when sitting, standing, or lying down, I get a searing pain and my back and leg go weak, such that it feels as if they are about to give way. Needless to say, I have not run since Around the Bay. I also cancelled my personal training last week. I made it to one actual yoga class, and it felt good, but again I had to scale to my capacity, which meant forward bends and anything that involved getting up or lowering myself down required a modified approach.

I asked Sam whether I should blog about this because I was so pumped after Around the Bay and felt so strong in every way possible, that this back situation feels like an enormous disappointment. Quite the come down, actually. Sam said it’s real and an okay thing to blog about.

Damn right it’s real. I don’t think I’ve experienced physical pain this real in years. The kind that makes me cry. I’ve got great pain tolerance. I didn’t even cry when the dentist drilled into a raw unfrozen nerve during a root canal.

But I tend to be a bit private about pain. Not that I don’t share setbacks and difficulties with my friends. And not that I never blog about challenging times. And not that the people I work with aren’t aware of my delicate back situation this week (because otherwise they would be wondering why I’m walking so slowly and wincing from time to time for no apparent reason). I’m not one to suffer in silence. But it would never occur to me to tell my Facebook friends that I am in excruciating back pain this week. So blogging about it is a bit uncomfortable.

And yet as Sam said, it’s real. And we all have setbacks sometimes. Sam blogged about her much more serious difficulties just the other day. And Catherine talked about getting realistic in April. We all have things that come up, some temporary and others more permanent.

Truth be told, I’m not “rolling with it” particularly well. I mean, I thought and expected that it would resolve in time for me to go for an easy run on Sunday morning. But that was not realistic. I probably shouldn’t have walked home from work on Wednesday. And now, I just can’t even imagine running or walking any distance, or going to the weight room, or even doing a yoga class without taking it super slow and easy.

I’m seeing an osteopath after work today and I went for a massage focusing on that part of my back at the end of the day yesterday. And yes, I’m lying on an ice pack right now and I think I will pop a couple of ibuprofen caplets. I hope, as Susan said, that the osteopath will “gently wiggle” me “back to health.”

Meanwhile, I think this has helped me decide that perhaps, as much as I love running, distances like 30K are too taxing on my 54-year old body. When I do get back to running, I’m sticking with a 10K max for awhile (until Anita talks me into another half marathon or something).

How well do you cope with injuries that interfere with what you’d ideally like to be doing?

fitness · rest · self care · sleep

Sleep and other forms of rest

Image description: against a yellow background the words: “You are exhausted physically and spiritually because the pace created by this system isfor machines and not a magical and divine human being. You are enough. Rest. The Nap Ministry”

We blog about sleep and rest quite a bit around here. I’m keenly aware of this topic right now because I’m 10.5 time zones away from home, with disrupted sleep, and I’m taking a time out from my Around the Bay Training to go easy on my knee/IT band issue.

Approaching my trip to India last week I had an empty tank, a backlog of work I couldn’t get done even if I’d had no sleep, and my left knee was bothering me because of an IT issue from my long distance runs for Around the Bay training. The unsettled weather (freezing cold, then snow, then freezing rain, then rain) didn’t help. I hadn’t felt that run down since last winter. I literally couldn’t wait to get on the plane so I could zone out for the next 20 hours while enroute.

This is why the above message from the Nap Ministry speaks to me. The pace. It’s not human. And yet I can’t seem to slow down for any appreciable length of time unless I get sick, travel (and even then, it’s not always to a slower pace), or hit the wall in such a way that I get a case of the “eff-its.” India happened as a convergence of the second and third of these possibilities, with “sick” likely to follow soon if I hadn’t taken off.

What causes me (us?) to go go go like this when we know it’s too much? I know I fall prey to the idea that I have to do it or I’ll let people down/be a failure/reveal myself to be a pretender — pretending to be on top of things, pretending to be good at what she does, pretending to be smart and effective, pretending… I try to keep up so I won’t let people down and won’t let people see me down.

But we’re not machines. The Nap Ministry has reassured us that we are enough. We get to rest. And in that spirit, after a very long day of sight seeing yesterday that included the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, with a combined time of over four hours on our feet, I took a time out this morning to stay in my hotel room. Granted, I stayed in to do some work, but I also needed a bit of a retreat.

It felt self-nurturing and right to come back to my room after breakfast, read a few student papers, and then curl up under my covers for another hour before meeting up with people at 1:30.

My knee hasn’t bothered me since I left. I’ve had enough sleep the past couple of days. I’m still behind on work. But I’m feeling more rested today than I did the day I left. To me that’s a win.

Namaste.

Are your sleep and rest adequate? If so, what’s your secret? If not, what holds you back from getting enough?

Image description: Tracy walking towards the camera wearing low boots, slim fit pants, a black long sleeved jacket, two scarves, sunglasses, and carrying a camera. In the background Taj Mahal, blue sky, green grass, and throngs of people.
fitness · rest · sleep

Rest, revisted–and I mean naps

Rest is a recurring theme here on the blog. Christine blogged about it in the late summer. And so did Kim a bit before her (about her restorative vacation). And so did Sam a bit before that. We chat about it a lot too.

I was at a meditation workshop recently where the facilitator said that it’s really sad how we glorify busy-ness and how everyone encourages us all the time to do more and more and more and how rest and downtime and naps are almost regarded as guilty pleasures, not birthrights.

As I pondered her words, I realized that I’m fortunate in that I have surrounded myself (mostly) with people who do not support the glorification of being over-busy and who think rest and leisure and naps are good. And it’s lucky for me because I have often struggled with permission to rest. I have a more more tendency.

And yet naps are among my favourite thing in the world. I really enjoy being on vacation because I almost always allow myself afternoon naps when I am. Totally luxurious. They do feel subversive. And sleep is, in fact, a social justice issue that has a lot to do with race and class. The Atlantic reported some years ago about the racial inequality of sleep.  The Nap Ministry talks about naps as subversive acts of resistance against capitalism and white supremacy.

Because sleeping during the day when you could be working!

I know that with working out and training, rest is an important part of it all. Usually, that means not necessarily sleep, but incorporating rest days and active recovery. When Sam and I were in the early days of the blog, doing our Fittest by 50 Challenge (between 2012-2014), I hardly ever got enough rest days into my routine. But now, I put a high premium on that part of my training. For me, it’s not just days off from running or weights (though there is that). but also just taking time-out even from social events. I need that to feel truly restored.

I have discovered since Renald left to go sailing that it is a lot easier for me to fill up all my time. I had a lot more “planned leisure” when he was here because we planned it together and did it together. Hanging with your partner is not social in the same way as other social activities because (ideally, and this turns out to be true in my case), partners who we’ve been with a long time are people who we can most be ourselves with, and so being with them is not a net energy loss.

On Saturday I took an entire day and night to retreat from the world and it felt really restorative. I scheduled nothing and required nothing of myself. I napped in the afternoon (I think it was cold and rainy). After I woke up I luxuriated under the warmth of the covers for a little bit longer.

Image description: At night snowy mountain scene with Northern Lights in the sky and a text box with white border and text that says
Image description: At night snowy mountain scene with Northern Lights in the sky and a text box with white border and text that says “NAPS ARE A HEALING PORTAL. LETS GO THERE” THE NAP MINISTRY–in all capital letters.

Rest and recovery for training purposes is all well and good. But adequate sleep, naps, and the like are another level altogether, not just about self-care (though there is that), but about resistance against an oppressive narrative that glorifies being overly busy, relentlessly long work days, and even being in a state of exhaustion (where people compete over how busy and tired they are). They don’t just heal us as individuals. They have the potential to heal on a more global basis.

Where do you stand on naps?