Welcome to another episode of Kim’s Confessions! Moreso, just an observation I made recently.
Not only is most of my work on the computer, but two of my biggest hobbies also lend themselves to sedentarism: reading and writing. Because of that, I make sure that I spend time moving around frequently, as I’ve mentioned previously. I work, read, and write from the floor, from a standing position, in various seated positions. I take frequent breaks and do mini-workouts, mobility, stretches and so on.
But a couple of weeks ago, I had a stretch of time where I did not keep up with those practices very well at all. We had a long period of icky weather: cold, windy, and very rainy. I don’t mind being out in any one of those conditions, but the cold, horizontal rain made things challenging. I was kind of a potato that week. The following week I spent a lot of time working on the computer. Hours would pass before I realized I hadn’t gotten up and that happened over an entire week.
Then finally the computer project finished up and the same day, the sun came out! I went for a nice ruck hike with our dog and was pretty shocked how different I felt. I thought about it for the whole hike, about what was different, and why. It felt amazing to be outdoors, but my body was sluggish and took much longer to warm up to the movement and my brain was a bit foggy. I was a bit tired, even though I had slept well. Then I realized that I had spent the majority of the last 2 weeks sedentary.
Recently, one of my adult kids took a job as a nurse’s aid in the neurosurgery unit at a large hospital. One of the observations he made about his new job was about how quickly someone loses their ability to hold their own body weight up after being in bed for a long period of time. Even if someone spends a few weeks in bed recovering from an accident or surgery, they usually need a long stretch of PT to regain their abilities to walk, and even stand, unassisted.
I thought about that while I was rucking. It was interesting to note how much change I felt in just that 2 week period. I was still playing outside with the dog, still walking around the store, still doing laundry and other chores, but I was not keeping up with my Momentum workouts, mobility work, strength training or even rucking. The impact over a short period of time was pretty shocking.
I use an Apple Watch to keep a baseline idea of how things are going. I don’t rely on it to be an accurate measuring tool, but more so just to see where things have increased or decreased, gotten better or worse. On my ruck hike, my watch gave me an alert that my cardio fitness had decreased. When I got home, I took a closer look, and over that 2 weeks my Heart Rate Variability decreased by more than 20 points! It had been stable for the previous 2 years that I’d had the watch, with some small improvements. My overall active time, standing time, and sleep also worsened. You’ll notice earlier I said I felt tired when I slept well. I was judging sleeping well by how much time I spent in bed but not my quality of sleep. I was more stressed so I was tossing and turning and waking up a lot and I don’t sleep well if I don’t get ample activity and outdoors time.
While my falling off the wagon wasn’t really intentional, I didn’t think too much about it, either. I was aware I wasn’t doing the things I should have been doing but I knew BackerKit would only take a week and I’d be ready to roll again. I was also aware of the irony that during a time I could have most benefited from the results of regular exercise, I let it fall off my radar. On top of that, I didn’t account for the previous week of having been a potato due to the weather. The combination of 2 straight weeks of greatly reduced activity had me feeling pretty gross. I was more stressed and I didn’t recover from the stress by the next morning because I wasn’t sleeping as well, either. I was having headaches almost daily when I rarely get them. Of course because I was feeling trashy, I ate worse than I usually do, too. This isn’t to beat myself up, I am simply curious about these fluctuations and observations so I can use that information moving forward.
It was a big wake up call to me, honestly. I clearly understand the benefits of all of the things that I normally do for my health, but it was easy to shrug them off as not being a big deal. I wasn’t doing a major weight lifting routine or training for a race or a big trip or anything like that. So I was not concerned that dropping what I saw as a minor daily routine would have a large impact.
It’s such a great reminder that the “small” things we do, really do add up. They make a difference in every area of our lives, even if they feel minor. Don’t let them go! We all go through periods like this, whether it’s something similar to my experience, or dealing with illness, taking care of kids, or whatever comes up. Don’t negate the smaller things you do. Even if you can’t hit your normal hour long strength routine, your 5-mile walk, or whatever, do what you can. It adds up. If all you have to give is 20 minutes a day for a couple of weeks, then that is significantly better than doing nothing.
Make sure your health takes center stage all the time. Those moments when other things creep in like work projects or family stuff or holidays – whatever challenges you most – you only benefit from ensuring you continue to put your health first. It will help you navigate the stress. The most important times to stay the course with our health are often the hardest times. But it’s also when the benefits become the most obvious.
Stay wild and go rucking this weekend!