There has been a fair amount happening over the last month since my last blog.
Where to even start….?
I have travelled a lot. I have travelled to Paris for 2 nights, Dublin for 3 nights, Bristol and Frankfurt for an evening each and the last 3 days I was in Birmingham. If the last year or two has shown me anything it is that travel without an exercise plan can result in somewhat unpredictable commitment to the cause! So it really is a pity I didn’t take the time to make a plan.
On reflection it wasn’t a complete disaster, but after the excellent week I last blogged about I’ve certainly had a step down.
The first two weeks of exercise after my last blog looked like this:
- 10th – Rest
- 11th – LISS XT-40 walk & 20 minutes yoga at home
- 12th – 30min run with HIIT sprints
- 13th – 4 rounds of sun salutations
- 14th – Rest
- 15th – 2 rounds of sun salutations
- 16th – 2 rounds of sun salutations and a 2 hour walk around Dublin
- 17th – 2 rounds of sun salutations
- 18th – 15 minutes flow yoga at home
- 19th – Bikram 60
- 20th – 5Km run (30:23)
- 21st – XT-40 walk
- 22nd – Rest
On the 23rd, I made it back into the yoga studio for a 75 minute flow class followed by 75 minutes of Yin, and since then there has been a question following me around asking;
Why do you keep depriving yourself of this yoga medicine?
It’s a question I need to address. This yoga practice I stumbled across 9 years ago has literally kept me alive, it is my sanctuary, my saviour, my medicine and yet I keep turning my back on it.
I have months of dedicated practice and then weeks of avoidance. I just can’t commit consistently to it; and yet when I go, holy crap, I feel INCREDIBLE.
The flow class started gently but it was by no means easy, it challenged my balance, my stamina, my breath and connection to it, and yet I was able to do chataranga and wild thing like I’ve been practicing all month.
I have only been out running a few times so far this last few months and it is anxiety that I will find the run difficult that keeps me from going; and yet, if I just went I wouldn’t find it so hard! It’s definitely a neat little self-fulfilling prophecy that always gets in my way. I am truly served by it but I have learnt that generally I can overcome this by booking some races; so I booked a 1/4 marathon (10.56Km) for September, a 10 mile race for October and a half marathon for November.
In other news….I have learned that I have dyspraxia and have sensory sensitivity.
I was assessed after my therapist suggested it; pretty convinced it may be relevant to me after talking about having dyslexia and exploring some of the particular issues I struggle with. Driving head first into a parked car was a pretty strong catalyst for me to get assessed.
Dyspraxia affects motor skills and is a neurological disorder that means that I have to try extra hard to achieve normal activities. It’s something I will have had all my life and isn’t really something that was well recognised when I was growing up, so wouldn’t have been picked up. To be fair I didn’t discover I had dyslexia and dyscalculia until I was 19.
So this diagnosis is interesting to me as a 38 year old. I’m incredibly clumsy, with poor spatial awareness but I am already well aware of things I find challenging and have spent my life making changes to overcome them. In some aspects of my life my only coping strategy is avoidance, which is not entirely ideal. Therefore this diagnosis gives me access to help regarding what practical coping mechanisms I can put in place.
My yoga practice has been amazing for getting me more balanced and it’s something I now learn is LITERALLY medicine. So I must continue to find time, even when that can feel impossible.
In some ways this diagnosis has given me validation. I have always felt different, I see things in ways others don’t, excelling in some areas (I was in the 99th percentile for one of the pattern recognition tests) but really struggling in others. I can be too direct with people, missing some social cues at times, and in many ways it is the character and personality symptoms of dyspraxia that feel more relevant to me. That said, since this diagnosis Giles has commented that I ‘seem more dyspraxic’ and I agree with him. All the little foibles I have normally shrugged off can be attributed to this diagnosis and so it just seems so obvious!
Since this diagnosis I feel different and actually more forgiving of myself. One aspect of dyspraxia is that to achieve the same as others can be more difficult for me, requiring more effort and concentration and so this goes some way to explain why I always feel tired. I need to take more rest to recover than others do but this isn’t something I naturally feel good about, and will berate myself for taking a nap or too many rest days.
I’m trying to be softer on myself, to be less stressed, to be more kind to my self-care and to appreciate my differences make me who I am – whether I like them or not.
Since then my exercise has looked like this:
- 24th – 6Km run (37:53 minutes)
- 25th – XT-walk 70mins
- 26th – XT-walk 30mins
- 27th – Rest
- 28th – Rest
- 29th – 1/4 marathon race (10.56Km in 1:08:23)
- 30th – Flow 75min & Yin 75min
- 1st – Rest
- 2nd – 6Km run (37:43mins)
- 3rd – Rest
- 4th – Rest
- 5th – Rest
- 6th – 90 minute Bikram
- 7th – Brighton 10 mile race (1:44:43 PB!)
Despite a fair few rest days I have done 2 runs a week including the races and a little yoga. I have spent the last 3 days away with work and done ZERO exercise, and I am at the point where I really need to be exercising more – physically and mentally. I may have done these long runs but without the daily home practice the gaps between my yoga classes feel too big. I pulled something in my back this week which is probably due to the lack of yoga so I have just had a massage and will do a little yoga at home tonight to keep it loose.
I am aware that I need to find the balance between wanting to exercise regularly and also giving myself rest days without giving myself a hard time; because I need those too. I talked to my therapist about what a challenge that balance is for me, and how in the past my need to control my food and exercise has been unhealthy. Because of this I have this constant push and pull between whether my exercise planning is becoming controlling or if it is an act of self-care.
So I am learning to live with the up and down nature of my exercise journey. I am beginning to see that freedom from attachment; a principle that meditation and yoga teaches me; must also include freedom of the attachment I try to have with exercising religiously, freedom from the expectations I make of myself, freedom from the attachment of the ‘ideal’. It isn’t easy, but at least recognising this is a step in the right direction.
I am trying to be kind to myself; not be cross with myself that it isn’t always achievable to go to yoga, or keep up with my exercise plan. I’m learning to understand that work, travel and tiredness sometimes gets in the way and that I actually have to take down time every now and then for my own good.
I know my contentment and happiness is not wrapped up in how I look, that I am on this journey for my mental health, my happiness and my confidence. It’s interesting that 3 people at the yoga studio commented how good I looked recently, yet I felt dumpy after weighing in and seeing a number I didn’t like looking back at me. Yet, the scales can only tell me the weight of my gravitational force on the Earth! I’ve been so focussed on trying to lose weight recently and hitting a goal weight that I have lost sight to my intention to just work out to feel happy in myself.
The next 11 and a half weeks of this year my focus is going to be on doing enough, feeling like I am enough, enjoying my existence and exercising to feel good, strong and happy, That is all it needs to be about. Nothing more.