Friday, November 16, 2012

Sleep, stress and the whole damn ball of wax

CrossFit. I love it. It has done wonders for me. Combined with primal eating, it has transformed my fitness into a more well-rounded beast. But every now and then I have to put the brakes on and regroup.

You have probably heard it from Robb Wolf and other paleo/fitness smart folks: when you are tired and stressed and pushing adrenal fatigue, a balls-to-the-wall metcon is not what you need. You need to get some real sleep, and confine your "workout" to, at most, lifting something heavy, maybe taking a walk, and otherwise eating well and letting your body reset. A fast-paced metcon places heavy stress on your body. When you are well-rested and ready for that kind of blast, it's great for you, because you recover properly. But when you are already beaten down from the cosmic shitstorm of life, the last thing you need is the extra stress of a glycolytic freakshow. You will end up more stressed, with increased cortisol and wrecked sleep.

And I am pretty well there. There is no one particular source of stress in my life, just a well-aligned group that we will call work + managing-the-life-of-my-elderly-dad + college-admission BS for my younger son. Add to that a slightly disrupted sleep schedule and there I was, about to head out to the gym tonight when I realized, stifling the 37th yawn of the previous few minutes, that a bruising high-speed metcon was not really going to help matters. It was going to completely wreck me.

So, despite having it on today's to-do list, I didn't go to CrossFit tonight. I am going to take it easy and start tomorrow with just a heavy back-squat session. Maybe on Sunday I will lift a little more, and, in the meantime, get a little extra sleep, hit the meditation a little more intensely than usual and try to get the ship of life back on course. It works every time, as long as I notice the warning signs.

And I can welcome myself, once again, to the difference between CrossFit at 50 and at some much younger age. Those of us whose youth is in the rear-view mirror have to listen to our bodies just a little more intently, or face the adrenal-fatigue consequences. Yeah, Warren Zevon once sang, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." True story: he's dead.

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