Hands down the most important thing I have learned this year is to ‘listen to my body’. This says a lot about how important it is because as a 3rd year biology major I learn new things everyday (*See the bottom for an interesting fact). Never the less, this simple principle has had an undeniable impact on my life. Becoming more self-aware of who I am, what I eat, and how I train, has dramatically increased my confidence levels and as well as improved my general health.
If you’re feeling skeptical about the power of self-awareness I know what you mean. In today’s society there is so much stimulation that hearing yourself think is hard let alone hearing what your body is saying. In my case it took me a trip to the doctor’s office to really start listening to my body. I hope you can learn from my story and give self-awareness a chance.
About two summers ago I was addicted . . . to exercising. I had one goal and that was to become as fit as I possibly could. Unfortunately, I found it all too easy to become obsessed with this goal. After working a full day as a camp counselor I would grab a quick fencing lesson, play an hour of squash 2-3 times per week, and then run 5-8 km daily. It never seemed like enough. I wanted to be stronger, faster, and lighter. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that the body can handle that amount of stress and not give you a hard time.
The fact that I wasn’t losing any weight should have been my first indication that this strategy was not good for my body. However, when you’re as driven as I was, it’s easy to ignore the little signs. Truth is I was obsessed, and so I continued. It wasn’t until an incessant pain in my shin prompted me to see my doctor that I realized that the pain in my shin was a sign that my body needed rest. Diagnosis: Stress Fracture. Treatment: 6 weeks of no running.
Now, considering the state I was in, being obsessed and all, hearing that I had to stop running was preposterous. Leaving the doctor’s office I decided to make a compromise. I’d stop running but I had to continue fencing. My team was training with a World Champion from Germany, and I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity of lessons. So I sucked up the pain and practiced continuously. Well it came as no surprise that after six weeks of no running I had not healed at all. In fact my recovery took about eight months, not the allotted six weeks.
Dreaming Lesson #1: Listen to your body.
*Interesting Fact: The birth control pill was derived from yams.