Today was, by most practical standards, a pretty zero day. As far as Labor Day Sunday’s go, not a lot of laboring going on. But today was a different kind of non Zero Day – a rest day. I realize this doesn’t sound like a huge achievement and to be honest it’s really more of a baby step but that’s what this project is all about, right? Figuring out the best version of your life one little tick at a time.
The road that lead me to my current physical state (newly repaired hip) was paved by over training and an obsession with running and exercise. If it was paved by these two things, it’s safe to say that the foundation beneath that road was laid on an already weak self image and questionable food relationship, but that’s a story for another post. As anyone who has ever struggled with an unbalanced relationship with exercise can tell you, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Addicted to working out? Oh, do you also have a tree out back that shoots off Benjamins every couple of days? Talk about first world problems. But I wouldn’t say those who struggle with this aren’t as #blessed as one might think.
I recently listened to an episode of the Ali on the Run podcast about this exact topic. If you haven’t checked out her stuff, it’s worth a read or a listen. She’s quite an inspiration and talks a lot about some very relevant and relateable topics, such as this one. In the podcast she interviewed Clinical Sport & Performance Pyschologist, Dr. Leah Lagos on the topics of performance anxiety and exercise addiction. She may as well have ended every sentence with “Amiright, Rachel?”. She talked a lot about not only the pressures of performance in athletics, which is something I struggled with greatly in my training, but also the slippery slope that leads to exercise addiction and how to recognize signs of it. The hardest part is that it’s most difficult to recognize these things in yourself. Self reflection can be a real bitch.
For me, one played into the other and once I got caught up in the pressures of training at a high level and wanting to perform well, the addiction seemed to naturally follow. Drag into that a below the surface struggle with food and you know where this story ends – Just a girl, standing outside New England Baptist, asking someone to help her out of a wheelchair. One of the tell tale signs of exercise addiction is not taking rest days. This was and still can be something I really struggled with. I remember once counting back in my head and realizing it had been nearly 2 years since I had taken a complete rest day. Over 700 days straight. I know, I know, right now you’re asking yourself “How did she end up getting hip surgery? The mind boggles”. But that’s the problem with hindsight. No one ever needs glasses for it.
Admittedly, going into surgery I had some anxiety about the amount of time I’d be recovering and how limited I would be compared to what I’ve become accustomed to as far as workouts go. I hadn’t been running much at all since Boston. Once a week if that and even that was the kind of run that made my dog patronizingly trot beside me. But I was determined to go into surgery as strong as possible which meant strength training and whatever else I could find that filled my running void. The first few days I came home I expected to be jumping out of my skin, fighting every urge to want to cheat the system and come back quicker. But I wasn’t. I took my time. I felt disarmingly calm for myself and started to wonder if perhaps they’d removed my cloven hoof while in there as well. But low and behold here we are, over 2 weeks post op and I have yet to attempt anything outside of the careful instruction of my surgical team or PT. Talk about “new hip, who dis?”
It’s taken me a long time to get here and I would even say that “here” is generous. Some days I catch myself back there and have to work hard at pulling myself out of it. But the difference is that now I can. Over the past 2 weeks it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows (just ask my other half) and there have been days I wake up and feel like a prisoner trapped in this body. But I know where I’ve been and I know it’s not a place I want to go back to so I fight like hell to keep my head above the water and stay in the land the light touches.
Which brings me back to today. We took a little family road trip up to Maine on Saturday – 2 humans, 1 dog and a few drinks to celebrate our belated 1 year anniversary. When I woke up this morning I considered going to the gym. The old edition of myself would have set several alarms for 5 am, dragged myself out of bed and found the hotel gym and worked out before my husband even woke up. But this is the new and improved edition, the no zero days edition. So instead, I took my dog out. I went to breakfast and ate half the buffet with my husband. I did my PT prescribed 20 min on the bike to move my hip so half assed that I didn’t even plug it in. I layed on the couch with my dog. We got take out pizza and salad and I ate whatever I could get my paws on and you know what the best part about it was? It was great. I didn’t feel the crushing anxiety of what the repercussions of this utter carelessness would be. I didn’t think about how I could make this up tomorrow. I just embraced it.
If you’ve had any interaction with my husband in the past 4 weeks you’ll know that he has recently latched onto a new phrase: “Life is Life”. He’s repeated it so many times it’s almost lost meaning to me at this point but I couldn’t help thinking tonight maybe he’s onto something. Life is life, so enjoy it. Eat a cookie. Drink a beer. Do something epic. Or for the love of God, take a nap. No matter what you do, own it. Because I can tell you one thing for sure: living in fear or anxiety of what you aren’t doing isn’t living at all.
So yeah, today was a pretty nothing day but that’s a big Non Zero Day for this kid.