Physiologically Outta Control!

Have you ever watched a reality show like the Bachelor, Housewives, or a man’s version of drama…Axe Men and felt your heart rate just skipping around?  I’m pretty sure this week my heart rate and brain waves would have sketched a nice blue print for a roller coaster ride!  And who would expect to see drama at the pool?!

I think I mentioned before the pool is my escape from the outside garbage.  I find the swishing of water and counting my strokes pretty calming and peaceful, but this week, my heart rate was all over the place.  The past few weeks I have started a new routine or rather trying to develop a habit…a good one.  Instead of sleeping in last minute and thinking about my workout plan during the day while at school or lab, I decided it’s time to beat the rush!  Plus, I was missing out on spending time with my husband, cooking (whenever I feel the confidence to do so), and simply relaxing.  My schedule was literally the same everyday – sleep in last minute, breakfast/coffee, hit the Metro (our public transit), school/lab, workout, dinner, and sleep.  Now, I have some quality evening times.  There are days I get up at 6a to start biking (indoor on a trainer) and it’s such a good workout, that I’m alert and energized for the rest of the day especially after a recovery smoothie drink and some breakfast!  However, there are other days where I have to get up around 5:30a to squeeze in a swim AND running or biking.   The days I head to the pool at 5:30a are the days I am in a sense of euphoria for the rest of the day. 

Drama at the Pool
I think at times I put stress on myself.  I really should take advantage of swimming for free at our really nice (8+ lanes) pool at the university.  However, I typically swim at a community center within a few blocks due to location and timing.   On the flipside, I’m stressed before I get there!  The doors open at 5:30a and people are waiting outside to get in RIGHT at 5:30a!  There are 3 lanes and I’m already screening for swimmers by taking a head count.   I’m not a morning person and there’s this very sweet old lady who attends regularly and likes to talk to me (and other ladies) in the locker room…I’m there to get in and get out.  In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to chat or tell you about my morning.  I have somewhere to be at 8a, shouldn’t you be sleeping in?”  My husband just laughs and says, “They [retired senior citizens] have probably been up a couple hours before getting there.”   Needless to say, sometimes I get frustrated but, in the end, it truly makes me smile to see these older folks take care of themselves.  The lady then informed me that I could share the middle lane with her.

Once I got out to the pool, I noticed the middle lane was clear – possibly for her.  Two swimmers were already in the 2 outside lanes.  I thought they must have a routine down because they left the middle lane open.  I didn’t see anyone coming out so I took my time to gather my workout plan, water bottle, and grab a kick board.  I turned around and see the older lady wave at me with her goggles on and dove right on in.  “What…where…” She popped up at the blink of an eye!  She proceeded to swim and I watched thinking, “oh dear, she’s swimming back strokes in the middle of the lane.”  Once I started swimming she was actually a good lane-mate.  I calmed down a bit after I claimed my lane.  Then, the drama fires into action.  A total of 3 people can swim in a lane but have to circle, which can be very difficult to complete your workout with drills.   A young girl started the circle swim with 2 other swimmers and minutes later I see her walking down the lane.  She gets out and goes to the lane on the other side of us.  Eventually I see the lifeguards telling the gentleman to circle.  He clearly refuses.  As I make another lap towards the other end, I see a lady yelling at him (over our lane).  Holy moly!  Meanwhile, I’m speeding up my workouts since this older lady and I are right in the middle of the drama!  Luckily, I had plugged my ears and continued to try and maintain my focus.

It amazes me how our bodies react to internal and external stress spiking all the internal components (blood pressure, heart rate, breathing).  That night when I got home from school, I cooked a nice steak dinner for my husband’s birthday so my mind and body didn’t relax until later that night.  My husband inquired that I must be tired, but that morning sent me on high for the rest of the day so I didn’t feel tired.  It wasn’t until the following day that I felt heavy and beat.  In fact, this entire week, I have let one thing lead to another…due dates, research, projects, and planning upcoming races.  The stress monster has returned and is taking over the speed of my neurons firing! Our bodies clearly need rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. There was a study on the length of life among people who lived to be 100+ years old and this scientific expert found the following reasons for why these people lived long and contented lives (secondary source, page 114 – “The Power of Positive Thinking”):

1.     They kept busy
2.     They used moderation in all things
3.     They ate lightly and simply
4.     They got a great deal of fun out of life
5.     They were early to bed and early up
6.     They were free from worry and fear
7.     They had serene minds and faith in God

Maybe changing our routine would be helpful after all.  I am certainly finding all the above beneficial at some point but the challenge is…incorporating them into a daily routine.  I even find some of these reasons mentioned in sports’ articles and would say to carry the routine even over the weekend (especially getting up and going to bed early).  So, that older lady sharing a lane with me, I wouldn’t be surprised if she lives past 100…she’s evidently stress free and up early, smiling and working out like us young folks!

People like her, inspire me
to live a long, active and healthy life.
(source: Healthy Living: Exercise Routines

Quote of the day:  If you’re going through hell, keep going.  
~ Winston Churchill

Bible verse of the day:  “Do not fret…” 
~ Psalm 37:1


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