I was reminded yesterday that there are some major downsides to getting your period. When I wasn’t getting it every month, I forgot about how I used to feel really weak in swim practices and meets when I was on it. Yesterday, that fatigue reared it’s ugly head.
Since getting back from Fall Break on Wednesday, we’ve essentially been getting our butts kicked in swim practice. At lift we had to do “testing” which requires an all-out max – for example, doing as many push-ups as possible in a minute. Normally I can do the most push-ups on our team…but yesterday was my first clue that something was physically just “not there.” I did a lot of push-ups (37) but I’ve done more in a minute before – at the 30 second mark my upper body just wanted to collapse. Then we did pull-ups, which I can normally do 8 without any support. Yesterday we used bands to support our legs because some girls on our team can’t do them without bands, so I should have been able to do a lot…but only scraped 13. This continued through the rest of the tests, and overlapped into our afternoon practice when we did a racing, all-out for time set. Last year if we were going to do a set like this I would mentally freak out and be a basket case, worrying the whole time about how fast other people were going, etc. This time around, I can 100% say my performance was not hampered at all by my mental mindset – it was completely physical. I couldn’t get any speed going.
As much as I was disappointed in my performance, I realized after that it’s not my fault if physically my body is not ready to perform – that is something my coaches are responsible for. They have been training us so hard and my body has always taken a long time to recover, even during high school. I took care of my mental mindset and if my body had been ready to perform I would have been able to excel. That just wasn’t the case yesterday, and that’s not something I should beat myself up over – because that whole thought process takes me nowhere fast.
I admit I was PISSED during the set. It’s, frankly, embarrassing to swim that slow. At the same time, I kept my cool and kept a positive attitude by supporting other people and not comparing myself to the other sprinters on the team. It was hard, but it was essential. I left practice feeling disappointed that my body wasn’t up to the task, but knowing that sometimes you can have a bad day and it’s not the end of the world. A bad day doesn’t mean that you’re a bad athlete, or a bad student, or a bad person. No one is perfect, and I need to allow myself that room – because expecting perfection everyday is a recipe for disaster.
When I went home I immediately wrote down what I was feeling in a small notebook where I’ve been writing little things like this for a little while now. It’s a valuable resource because when I’m feeling stressed, I go to write in the notebook and I see some uplifting things that I have written before. Last night I saw something in particular that was helpful. It said:
“I’m not just a: swimmer, eating disorder, writer, daughter, pre-med, fun person, amazing woman in the making.
I am all of those things combined and SO MUCH MORE.”
Yes – when I write notes to myself I tend to capitalize things I want to emphasize. It’s almost like I think that if I “scream” a written message at myself it will sink in more.
Oh, anyway – positive coping – that’s what writing in that notebook is for me. I was disappointed in my performance, yes, but I was proud of how I dealt with that feeling. First off – after the set was over I had about half of my Gatorade left and I REALLY wanted to dump it. I had a fleeting thought “You just sucked hardcore in that set – you don’t need (deserve) those calories.” But then my rational voice stuck up for me REAL fast – “Actually, eating disorder, I need those calories more than EVER right now because I’m physically broken down and need to recover QUICK. You’re stupid.” I chugged the Gatorade so I wouldn’t give the eating disorder any wiggle room and when I got home I wrote about how I felt. I honored my feelings about the set. Normally I don’t deal with these feelings because they almost seem too little to be freaked out about. However, the significance of feelings isn’t really what is important – if I’m feeling something, regardless of what the feeling is about, I need to deal with it. I’m still a competitor, so naturally I beat myself up a little bit – but I also wrote my way through and realized it’s not the end of the world!
I also fought the urge to go to that “body image place.” You know, the place where everything would have been better if I was skinnier. Something that really helped me do that was Sarah’s “Choosing Love” one-week challenge at Bearing, Eating, Being. She’s been doing different challenges every day all week. I really admire this because she is actively working on her body image perspective.
One thing I ended up doing was making a “feel good” playlist on my iPod. This was so clutch for me because I always listen to slow music, and that can REALLY affect your mood if you’re not careful! I had to drive four hours back to school on Tuesday, so I armed myself with this playlist instead of my usual…and I got to school feeling relaxed and recharged instead of sad or angry or anxious. It’s really amazing how something that small can make such a huge difference! She’s been doing some other good challenges, and it would be really worthwhile to check out for anyone dealing with body image stuff (which, let’s face it – pretty much every woman in America is to some degree!)
Off to my morning swim practice…I’m hoping to feel a little better today! 🙂 It’s a new day and a new opportunity to stay strong and true to myself.