There are many days when I feel that I am, perhaps, not at my best. After some trial and error with diet and exercise, I came to the conclusion that my dog is actually to blame – he’s old and he has to pee every three hours, which makes for consistently dreadful sleep. This past weekend, though, I got a glimpse into the kind of tiredness that I think many people often complain about. I’m talking absolute lethargy here. I’m talking about soul-suckin, bone-crushing fatigue.
Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday Saint Paul celebrated the Spring edition of its semi-annual Art Crawl – a huge art festival that draws over 300 artists and around 20,000 visitors. I was the coordinator for our building, which hosted 40 artists. While that was stressful and a lot of work, it wasn’t what wore me out so badly.
What really made me feel like a zombie was three days of sitting on a stool, eating bad food and not exercising. I ate cookies, Thai food, pizza and more Thai food. I drank coffee or tea constantly from waking until 3 or 4 pm, and then I drank one or two beers every evening. I squeaked in a single 3-mile run on the first morning of the Crawl, but did no other exercise the whole weekend. By Monday morning, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.
I was so tired, the thought of getting out of bed almost made me cry. My muscles and joints ached. Doing laundry was monumentally challenging, and exercise seemed utterly impossible. Fortunately, the last of the Scotcheroos were eaten up by noon, healthy meals were planned and groceries were bought. At 6 pm, I forced myself onto the elliptical machine and slogged out 45 minutes at a moderately-low effort. Immediately, I felt better.
The next day, I headed to the gym for what I now realize was an overly-ambitious 9-mile run (I have a marathon coming up, so I didn’t think I could really afford to ease back into running). I finished the run, but kept thinking the whole time, “I poisoned my body! For three days straight, I poisoned my body!”
As I write this, four days have passed and I’ve gotten back into my normal groove. Of course, the dog still woke me up at 3:30 in the morning, so of course, I’m still a little tired, but I realize now that I have no room to complain – my tired is nowhere near other peoples’ tired.
Looking back at the weekend, I don’t know why I ate so poorly and missed my workouts. I had time to make healthy food and I could have carved out 20 or 30 minutes to exercise each day. But I gave myself a pass, made excuses, and wound up paying the price big time.
If what I’ve described above sounds familiar to you, maybe you want to consider your own diet and exercise habits. Are you fueling your body, or poisoning it? Are you getting stronger, fitter and more healthy with each day’s activity, or are you letting yourself decay?
I can’t imagine going through life feeling the way I did for just those few short days. Making your health a priority isn’t selfish, it’s an essential element for fully participating in life. You’ll be better at everything you do, not to mention more cheerful and easier to live with. So show yourself and your loved ones some compassion. Get rid of the junk, eat more vegetables and move around a bit more today. You’ll be surprised by what these simple little changes will do for you.