Taking the full measure of life

Being Open to Change When the Time for Change Comes

May 13th, 2008 · 7 Comments

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I’m proud of this girl.  This girl is a runner.  Look at her at her very first 5k last fall.  Awwww. Running has made her feel like she has the possibility to be an athlete.  It’s there inside her.  Even more so now, it’s there in her strengthened thighs, strong calves, and crazy-hard obliques.  It’s there in the way she holds up her head when she exercises–no shame, no self-consciousness . . . music pushing her on, blaring through her white earbuds.  This girl may not be fast or streamlined, but she’s worked hard for those muscles, and she has pushed herself to grow in strength and stamina.  I’m proud of this girl.

But . . . my allergies are wearing me out, y’all.

Exhaustion, an itchy nose, a throbbing head, a sore throat, sore and itchy eyes, ragged breathing—it’s not fun.  I know some of you were amazed when Georgia got strawberries way earlier than you did, and I really appreciate that we have amazing year-round produce here. (Really! We’re spoiled!)  But pollen season comes early here, and stays late.  And ever since the traumatic event of my husband being hit by a car (the same event that triggered an upswing in my celiac symptoms, the reason I got diagnosed), my allergies are extreme–even the best allergy drugs and the best naturopathic treatments can only do so much.  When I pass fresh grass clippings or (God forbid, seriously) someone riding or pushing a lawnmower, I have to hold my breath for fear of overwhelming sudden illness.  (My grass allergy? Right below anaphylaxis level.)

To be honest with you, I haven’t run for two weeks now.  And it’s not for lack of will; it’s just that I can’t do it right now—I can’t be outside that long right now, much less outside that long exerting myself.  5 minutes out there, and the throbbing/itching/aching rolls right in and lasts all day or night.  But I miss running; I’m also itching for that stress-relieving exertion that only exercise provides.  There’s little like being physically worn out to keep an easily high-strung girl a bit more mellow.  I’ve come to appreciate highly the little buzz of relaxation—the chill—that comes after a good work-out.  I don’t exercise for the way I feel while I’m doing it–oh, no.  I exercise for how I feel afterward.

So I decided to ask myself, Okay, what’s next? I can’t be outside, but I don’t want to go without exercising so long that not exercising becomes the habit.  After a bit of research, I’ve decided to join the gym at Georgia Tech, where my husband is a Ph.D. student.  GT is a lot more mellow in the summer than the rest of the year, so I should be able to actually find parking near the gym now, as long as I keep a roll of meter-feeding quarters in the car.   I’ve also decided to take the plunge–into the pool (You know the ’96 Olympics? That pool), where I’ll be taking an intermediate swimming class at night one day a week starting in June.  I know how to swim; I love to swim; I could tread water for half an hour. (Probably, just maybe, having big boobs for a flotation device helps.)  But I’ve never been able to grasp proper swimming form, and I wish I did know.  In the meantime, I’ll be starting (next week!) a general work-out class that I’ll be taking with my husband.  They’ll do a test (if we choose) at the beginning to get our body metrics, including body fat percentage (and while many of you may cringe at the idea, I’m really curious after this 40-pound loss how that has changed).

That class is 3 days a week—from 5:30 to 6:30 on MWF.  I should be able to pick my husband up from work 5-ish, drive over to the gym, and maybe get in a brief treadmill run before the official start of the class.  We’ll work out till 6:30 and head home–where we’ll still need to eat dinner, of course.  (And a snack at work 3-4-ish is going to be pretty imperative now.) We’ll need some quick, easy, healthy (soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free) dinners to pull together on those nights, so I’m gearing up my brain in that direction. We can do this!

There’s only so much energy to go around, right? So this is going to be my summer of physical health.  I’m going to put a lot of energy into these work-outs, into planning meals around these work-outs, into getting all I can out of these work-outs. Despite the allergies and the smog and the extreme Atlanta heat/humidity, I’m going to keep myself in good shape this summer, boosting my upper-body strength as I go.  That means, naturally, that other things will have to take a backseat more.  It’s crazy to think we can do it all, because we can’t, and I won’t try.  I probably won’t be able to take another photography class until fall, when the weather/season will allow me easy-access outdoor runs again.  My apartment will probably stay a bit messier than it would otherwise. (We do have a cleaning person come in once a week or every two weeks to clean thoroughly–it’s a concession we’ve made to my allergies.)  I won’t be able to be as social on weekdays as I have been lately.  And all that’s okay, because it is very important to me to maintain the level of physical capability I have gained, and I am willing to sacrifice to maintain that.

We all have priorities; we have to have priorities. And this is one of my top priorities this summer.

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ricki // May 13, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Good for you! As I was reading about the pollen (sounds awful), my first thought was, “maybe she could do something inside. . . ?” Great compromise. Here’s to physical health!

  • 2 healthyceliac // May 14, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Reading this felt like I was reading my own life story. I have terrible outdoor allergies, and no matter how many times I have changed my medications, there are some times of the year when I cannot be outside. And I hate it.
    I’m so happy that you’ve found a compromise and a way to feel amazing, despite the allergies 🙂

  • 3 Astra Libris // May 14, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Bravo to you!! I absolutely love the opening paragraphs of this post – your writing is beautiful, sensitive, and poignant!

  • 4 Lynn Barry // May 15, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Good for you…if one door is open and it is making you sick close it and stay inside to do your work outs…GOOD FOR YOU! HUGS

  • 5 Kay // May 15, 2008 at 7:41 am

    It’s tough to figure out what parts of this world are “yours.” I’m glad you found new avenues to your goals. Don’t waste time mourning the other parts. Ever onward!

    My sinus allergies get a little worse every year. But I still get to be outside, if I avoid the chemicals used on those fancy, dandelion-free lawns. I’ve gone totally organic in my yard. But my vegetable gardens need a little fertilizer. I think the organic stuff I use is made of ground fish. Stinky, but effective. I don’t mind, as long as it gives me big fat tomatoes.

    I got a hepa filter air cleaner cheap on ebay. It really works! It keeps my indoor air at a safe level without running the air conditioning as much as years past.

    You’ll probably have to throw a big party when you get your new body metrics numbers!

  • 6 Kim // May 15, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I’m proud of you and your ability to find away around the allergy thing you are fighting, and keep working out. You rock girl!! 🙂

  • 7 Andrew is getting fit // May 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Swimming sounds fantastic. Sorry to hear about your allergies.

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