One of the movies I’ve always enjoyed for its inspirational qualities is “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and one of the lines from that movie that I have adopted for my own use comes from the scene in which the protagonist is reluctantly teaching driver’s ed in the summer. The student driver does unspeakable things to the transmission and suspension, resulting in a sudden stop and a dented car. Instead of launching into a diatribe, the teacher looks at the kid and says, “Okay. Now what did we learned from this?”
I’ve had that kind of a week. Or maybe a month, in the lead-up. But the last week of it was the real turning point. And I’m writing this down now, because the first thing I learned from this little experience is that I sure as hell don’t want to repeat it next year but, knowing me the way I know myself, I might just suffer from selective amnesia. So this blog entry is primarily self-serving as a reminder to my future self to remember the important stuff. And not to fuck up the same thing twice.
What have I learned from this past week/month? In no particular order, and these apply to me specifically (your mileage may vary):
1. My instincts are actually pretty spot-on about my body and when something is not working right, I should pay more attention to it in the beginning and not dismiss it until it worsens.
2. When you remove one source of carbohydrates (i.e. sugar or flour or potatoes or whatever) from your diet, you need to make damned sure that what you replace it with gives you enough energy to continue to survive and perform. Broccoli is not the same as potatoes. Spinach is nothing like oatmeal.
3. This ineffective substitution can happen without you realizing it, as you strive to make healthy choices. Occasionally check your nutritional needs against the reality of what you’re eating.
4. When my body lives with decreased carbohydrates for too long, I get something that feels exactly like what I imagine depression feels like. Bleak hopelessness and apathy.
5. Feeling like you want to cry for hours after a workout is NOT normal. Especially after good workouts with PRs in them. When you wake up the next morning feeling the same way, there is something critically wrong. When you aren’t interested in things that previously gave you joy, FIX yourself. And ask for help if you need it. As it turns out, I need some carbs during workouts. Instant fix. Easy one, too.
6. February is a bloody awful time to go through this experience. February is for surviving. Be gentle with yourself in February.
7. Facebook in February is an increasingly negative place. So is Twitter. Seek out the positive in the world.
8. A hiatus from Facebook and Twitter is not a bad thing, especially if you have nothing positive to contribute. Don’t contribute to the downward spiral.
9. When you are feeling down in February (or any time), do not make major life decisions. Or if you must, pretend that you are a July person making them.
10. Real people are way better than virtual ones. Go for coffee with friends and eat more sushi in February. See real people. Get in touch.
11. Darkness is temporary. Time will automatically move you towards the light. Flow with it. And maybe eat more carbs when your serotonin levels plummet, regardless of your dietary goals.
12. Plan a vacation for February or March before February hits. Even if it seems silly in October or November. Just do it.
13. Rest is a weapon. Do what it takes to get enough sleep.
14. Be kind to the people who are closest to you. You need them.
15. Summer will come.
16. Emotions are a wave. Waves pass. Keep paddling.