Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Recommitting to Balance

I subscribe to Chris Kresser's email newsletter which says a lot about what I think of him and what he has to say because a) I disdain unnecessary emails, b) email subscriptions and most newsletters are generally just crap or sales pitches, c) I have enough other emails coming in daily that warrant my attention, d) it took me forever to unsubscribe from all the stuff I got signed up for (unwillingly) over the years from entering races and whatnot; these days I have that shit well-managed and I want to keep it that way. I refuse to spend an hour a week just deleting junk.

But Chris is one of a few who I'll let in. And below is a good example of why. I've copied and pasted his recent newsletter into this post, and what he said here is exactly what I was mentioning about slipping up recently with some of my stuff (stress). It's good to see that other experts do the same thing and are mature enough to call themselves out in a public manner like he did, especially when he's the one teaching people to avoid the very things he caught himself doing. All class.

For me, in addition to slowly but unintentionally allowing a bit more stressful living back in my life and that go-go-go attitude, I also recently realized I have been slipping up with my approach to training. I am getting way too addicted to exercise/training/racing again in an unhealthy way. Even though my intensity of exercise has drastically improved and I'm not faking it by secretly working out really hard (promise!), I still am mentally and physically obsessed to my workouts and losing sight of what is best for me. Not just for me but for John, our future, etc. Furthermore, I am losing sight of the very clear-cut goals John and I set together, as a team, for the events we have planned together. Our goals? Well, let's put it this way, we're not trying to get on any podiums. We just want to have fun, be adventurous, keep it loose and maintain balance. Maybe that's an oxymoron--ultra training and balance--or maybe not? Maybe we're on to something?

It's time to set some boundaries and get back to balance. I can dish that to my athletes and on the podcast, but I have to be honest, when it comes to my own self, it's easier said than done. When it comes to training and having a race/event on tap I tend to be an "all or nothing person." Shocking, I know. It's like an alcoholic who either has no beers or all the beers--there's no in between. For me, it's usually that I either train for a race with an absurd amount of focus, or I don't--I haven't mastered the in between. I got close with the marathon this year.

It's good to be committed, disciplined and focused, but that can go too far in my opinion, especially if you're a Type A'er like me who easily gets obsessed. A guy like David Goggins might disagree with me and say "go that extra distance" and that we all should find a way to go the extra mile(s), get uncomfortable, push the extremes, and be an "I can" not an "I can't" person. I get that, and I agree we need to get uncomfortable and not feed ourselves the "I can't" bullshit. David may be that guy who works out at any given opportunity putting in immense hours and volume. He may push his body to set world records like doing 4,030 pullups in 24 hours. He has his reasons for his approach of going all in, every day, year-round. I can do that too, if I wanted, but is that what I need? No. Individualization, folks. I can still get uncomfortable--in a healthy way--with my approach, and I plan to do that.

Now it'll be: Can I find that ability to casually train and not go overboard? Like Chris says below, it's just a matter of recommitting to the principles you value....


"Hi everyone,

When most of us think of addiction, we typically think of substances like alcohol, heroin, or tobacco.

But a more inclusive definition of addition, according to author Tony Schwartz, is 'the relentless pull to a substance or an activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with everyday life.'

If we use this definition, it’s fair to say that nearly all of us are addicted to the Internet.

I’m no exception. In fact, when I became aware several years ago of how my compulsive behavior around the internet was affecting my productivity, health, and relationships, I set up some practices that would limit my exposure. I discussed these in two podcasts here and here.

These strategies included turning off notifications on my phone and mobile devices, only checking email 2-3 times a day, and focusing on my most important daily tasks before engaging with email/social media/meetings. Overall they've worked well and I've been able to stay on track and minimize distraction.

But over the last few months, I’ve started slipping. I’ve been checking email regularly throughout the day, looking at social media accounts more regularly, pulling my phone out of my pocket way more often, and spending a lot more time randomly browsing the web.

All of this started during the launch of my new clinician training program. I told myself that I had to be more connected during this time, so I could be available for any pressing issues that came up. While there may have been some truth to that, I think the Internet addict in me was also looking for any excuse to take over the reins.

Since I’ve fallen off the wagon, so to speak, I’ve noticed a decline in my overall health and well-being, and a definite drop in productivity. I’ve also found it more difficult to focus on the research and writing that is so important to my work.

But the worst part—and the effect that makes me feel more upset than anything else—is how these changes have affected the time I spend with my 4-year old daughter, Sylvie.

I’ve always been the person that cringes when I see a Mom or Dad pushing their kid on the swings and obsessively checking their phone the entire time. I haven’t gone that far, but I do notice that I’m looking at my phone a lot more than I ever did before when I’m with Sylvie, and I see how negatively this impacts the quality of my connection with her during these interactions.

One of the hardest parts of dealing with Internet addiction is that, unlike booze, drugs, or gambling, it's socially acceptable—and in some ways, even encouraged.

In fact, it seems like every day a new technology is introduced that promises to make us “more connected”: we can now check our email, social media, and the web at any time, from any place.

But is this really a good thing? It seems to me that the net effect of these technologies has been less connection, not more. Instead of simply being present in each moment and feeling connected with the people around us, our attention is increasingly elsewhere.

I worry about the effects of this. It’s yet another way that our modern lifestyle differs dramatically from the environment we evolved in, but it’s one that is rarely discussed or addressed.

With this in mind, I am recommitting to the principles I discussed in the two podcasts above. More specifically, I’m going to limit checking email and social media to 3 times a day, and avoid using my phone at all when I have dedicated play time with Sylvie.

If this is also an issue for you, what can you commit to? What steps will you take? Let me know on my Facebook page."

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