Wednesday, December 5, 2012

H.A.L.T. && Check In!

Yesterday evening I was sitting around the table with my grandparents, surrounded by some of the most delicious vegetarian food I have had in weeks. We were immersed in discussion about politics, the current incarceration rate, gang activity,  and my desire to go back for my Ph.D to change all of that. It had to be the tea, vanilla caramel tea will get anyone fired up about political activity and motivate the need for change. But I digress. The important part of this discussion stems from the time frame in which we discussed my current job in the Chicago Public Schools. I made the statement that, "If all of my kids could come to school with clean clothes, having had more than a few hours of sleep, food in their stomachs, and without the fear of being shot or jumped, I guarantee that half of the problems schools face would decrease significantly." I went on to rant about this BUT before I could my grandfather stopped me and chuckled. He said, "So you mean to tell me that triathlete is on her soap box talking about how her kids need to eat and sleep more? Hmm that might be slightly hypocritical."

Well played sir, well played. The irony is that he is 100% right. We go about our daily routines trying to get through this task, that email, (is it lunch time yet?) a meeting, a few too many walks over to the water fountain to check Twitter, (Today will be the day Crowie retweets me, I know it!) All with our eye on the prize: to stand on an over-crowded 'L' train for 35 minutes to get to the gym, work your butt off, go home,  and realize there's nothing in the fridge (or there is everything in the fridge but you have to cook it). Life is tough. Get a helmet....but make it a Giro Advantage 2, so at least then you look professional :)

Throughout all of this, how often do we stop and check in with ourselves? I know that if I don't pack a lunch, and probably dinner too, I won't get to eat until I go home (which on some nights isn't until 10pm). Or I default to Panera, if there is one around, with a mediocre chicken salad, with no chicken and the bbq sauce on the side. I should mention the people at "MY" Panera (yes I have ownership of it) now know my name, face, and order before I get to the register. Well done Sam. Anyways! food and sleep are essential for anyone, but even more so if you are training. One of the most valuable acronyms I learned at my two-week internship at a drug and alcohol facility was: HALT. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. My supervisor at the time told me that more often than not, when we are feeling grumpy or out of balance it's because one of these basic needs is not being met. So she would tell her patients to HALT, and check in with themselves. Obviously her patients are not the only ones that this applies to.

Hungry: I feel like my stomach and I, we are on the same "honda accord", I tell it when it gets to eat and it growls at me if it doesn't like that. But throughout this passive-aggressive relationship I have finally found a good pattern of foods and times to take it in. The one concern I have is being a vegan and training for an Ironman. I have heard that in training you can burn up to 3,000 calories a day. I don't even eat 3,000 claories a day! This will need to be a lifestyle change and something in particular I will need to actively pay attention to. But I am pretty dedicated to my diet so I will have to research ways to supplement my vegan needs through calories that are not found in dead, rotting, animal flesh :)

Angry & Lonely: I grouped these two together. Typically anger is something the bears it's unruly head at you immediately. Yet, it's often disguised, we utilize the emotion of anger to cover up another's like a mystery box surprise. If I am "angry" because I missed a workout it's easier to get angry about it than to admit that I am disappointed and reassure myself that it will be alright, tomorrow is another day. It's kind of like bringing that 'D' on your report card home and having your mom give you the, "I'm disappointed in you" rather than "You're grounded for life".

Which, if you were grounded for life, would probably get pretty lonely. Being a triathlete means that you participate in not one, but three sports that are completely individual. Sure we spend time with our training groups and work with our coaches, but at the end of the day, you will be the one riding that 112 miles and if you have someone there with you, you will probably be called for drafting and have to sit in the dreaded penalty box! That being said, the regimented 4am wake up and workout, the 9 to 5 job, 5:30-7 workout and 8 to 3am sleep leaves, about......0 time for  recreational activity. Which is why I try to remind my friends that I do still exist, and that as long as I can be home by 9pm, I'd love to go out with you, to a bar, drink a diet coke and talk about my training for the week.

Tired: I've been tired my entire life. Who hasn't? The lifestyle I lead often has me running from one thing to another. Honestly it's a really bad enabler, since I have found that one of the most difficult tasks for me is to be able to sit for more than 3 hours at a time, in one space, working on one thing. How funny, I can walk, talk, chew gum, tweet, text, and drive (wait maybe not that last one) but ask me to sit still and focus on one thing, haha, what are you crazy!? Unless of course it's in my bed. Much like your average 5 year old, I have a bed time. And if I try to stay up past 9pm it's not my parents that yell at me, nope. It's my body that just starts shutting down, like a physical message saying, "I don't care if you are reading the last chapter of 'Sex, Lies, and Triathlon' you're going to bed NOW! And like that, it's done. Sometimes I think my body is more of a control freak than I am.

Ok so this post is getting sort of long and I am maxing out on being able to sit in this chair. To the point! Everything takes practice, and practice makes perfect. But you can't be perfect, or even at your best, if your most basic needs aren't being met. As enthusiastic as I am about training there are some things you can't pack in a bag, there are things that aren't in your supplements, and some things you can't get by going for that extra bike ride. Your body can take on a lot of impact but it is still yours and you only get one. So do it a solid. Stop yourself at least once a day and check in. HALT (I am Reptar! Rugrats? 90s? Ok maybe not....) You can't expect to be at your best when you're not giving yourself the best.

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