January 30, 2013

Sometimes I Get a Feeling

On Monday morning, I didn’t feel great when I woke up – but that’s par for the course when my Mondays start at 4:30am and I don’t even arrive at work to start my day until 6 hours later. Hooray for commuting 1300 miles to my job!

Unfortunately, it was more than just the commute – and by Monday afternoon, I realized I was on the verge of getting sick. Although I had spent the weekend looking forward to my Monday night plans for a kickboxing workout followed by Bachelor bashing with my friend Blake, I knew I had to take care of myself. I canceled all my plans, choosing instead to head back to my hotel, order Vietnamese dinner delivery, and get in ten minutes of pushups/rows/light arm work in my room (thanks to the handy resistance band I carry in my suitcase) while waiting for it to arrive. After slurping pho ga dosed with extra herbs (because obviously cilantro and basil are homeopathic remedies… or just really tasty), I went to bed at 8:30pm. Hopefully that extra rest would help me avoid the nasty flu going around?

I set my alarm clock to skip my 6am spin class – which was kind of a big disappointment since the instructor had taken some music requests from me, and I knew the playlist was going to be killer. But when I woke up at a very late 7:30am having slept through my alarm (and with no way to get to work in time for my 8am meeting), I didn’t feel the slightest bit of regret about missing my workout. I felt pretty icky, and if my body wanted 11 hours of sleep, I had better give it what it was asking for.

What my body was asking for, though, was to stay home and stay in bed all day – and I couldn’t give in quite that much. After my 8am, I had a solid block of meetings from 8:30am-11:30am, and then a whole afternoon of work ahead of me. As much as I dreaded back-to-back meetings all morning, though, it actually worked out quite to my advantage – I was able to spend the morning in the office, then head back to my hotel and work from bed the rest of the day. I was surprisingly productive at home, getting done probably more than I otherwise would have just because I was able to avoid all distractions and interruptions. Problem solved!

I had one remaining problem still to be tackled though: should I work out? On the one hand, I had committed to working out every day, but that was meant to help my health – not come at the expense of it. Although it’s nearing a month of daily workouts and I am definitely in a routine where my body craves some form of exercise every day, my body seemed to be exhausted and run down – it was not the time to grit it out and make it do more. Perhaps it would be better to just suck it up, take a picture like this, and be done with it?

Photo Credit: Refine Method

While that pic would have made for a funny blog post, I realized that I really didn’t want to do it. It wasn’t pride; it was the very strange feeling I had that a bit of yoga/stretching might help me to relax and recover. Perhaps I could do some form of exercise, as long as it didn’t get me sweaty or out of breath? That runs very counter to what I normally consider a good workout, but I realized it was exactly what I wanted – much more than just hopping into bed and forcing myself to be on bed rest.

I don’t trust everything that Livestrong puts out there, because it can be a bit of a content farm, but I found an interesting article on how yoga can help boost your immune system and stimulate healing. I thought about the Bikram workout I had tried a few weeks earlier, and briefly considered “sweating out the toxins” in a hot room – but then decided that was probably crap anyway. Come on, Laura, moderation! My body was in no way ready for a 90 minute sweatfest. It was sick for a reason – probably because I’ve been pushing it really hard lately – and I needed to treat it with respect if I wanted it to get better.

Photo Credit: USFWS Headquarters

Instead of approaching my workout choice with an attitude of “what would kick my butt right now”, I thought about what I wanted to do – and decided on a gentle “stretching” DVD from Rodney Yee, right in my own hotel room. If it felt crappy, I could always stop and crawl into bed… but it was worth a try.

And it ended up feeling totally awesome. My yoga sequence certainly didn’t burn many calories, and I doubt it really did much to improve my strength or long term flexibility – after all, yoga has been found to actually hurt athletic performance in some ways. Furthermore, I’m not a very spiritual person, and I can’t say that I felt more “zen” or anything after doing it. But somehow, that sequence was just what I needed to stretch out my limbs and perhaps get a little bit of blood flowing – and I felt so much better after I finished. Soon after working out, I headed to bed – and I’ll credit the yoga with helping me to get another 11 hours of sleep.

This morning, I’m still not in great shape. In fact, some coworkers have commented that I look terrible – thanks y’all! (Though I do know what you mean.) But I’m getting through the day, and I’m looking forward to perhaps even doing another short little yoga (or pilates?) session in my room tonight.

Different workouts for different moods. I’m so glad that I’ve built the flexibility into my schedule to do what I want without giving up entirely!


8 thoughts on “Sometimes I Get a Feeling”

  1. Ugh. Being sick sucks. So I am a fairly new-ish reader to your blog (and I apologize if you have explained this, but I will ask anyway) why is your travel schedule so crazy? Why the constant commute? More importantly, how do you do it?

  2. Amy – I work in consulting, which means I don’t do the same thing all the time. My clients can change from month to month or year to year, and right now I happen to be working with one in Dallas on a long-term project. I go wherever the client is!

  3. If you are sick, just rest. Don’t exercise. I find that when I am sick, even one day of being in bed all day makes me get better so much faster.

    Also, if you have the flu, you really should stay at home. There is a bad flu epidemic going around and it can be fatal to small children and the elderly. It is not fair to your co-workers (who may have children) and I have to say, I get pretty annoyed when people come to work sick. I find it really inconsiderate.

    If you push yourself, whether by exercising or going to work, you could just make yourself worse, and do you really want to end up in a hospital? Then you REALLY won’t be able to exercise.

  4. Good points, Anonymous, but I do think it all is a case-by-case basis. I was lucky enough not to be very sick, and today and am back to being on my game! If I had been very sick, completely agree that working out would have been a terrible idea.

    You bring up a really interesting point about whether or not to come to work, though. There are lots of reasons to stay home, but a lot of it comes down to company culture. Is it okay to take a sick day? Not just from a vacation/PTO perspective (because I agree with you that it’s completely selfish to come to work just because you don’t want to lose a vacation day), but from a normative perspective. Do others work when they are sick? How do higher ups react to an email saying that you’re out sick? All of that unfortunately factors into the decision, and I think it’s important for companies to realize that culture has as much to do with it as the availability (or lack thereof) of time off.

  5. If a higher up reacts negatively to you staying home because you are sick, then you may want to rethink whether you want to work for such a company. The only way a company’s culture will change is if its employees expect nothing less.

    I just want to share a story about my coworker who paid the price for not staying home when sick. One of my coworkers got a cold and rather than staying home and resting, he continued to come to work. His cold turned into pneumonia. Again, he continued to come to work. His pneumonia got worse and he ended up in the hospital. In the hospital he contracted a bad staph infection and almost died from the infection. He didn’t die but as a result of the staph infection, he is now in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. If he had just stayed home a day or two when he had the cold, he probably wouldn’t be in a wheelchair and would be able to walk, run, etc. But because he refused to stay home and take care of his body, he is now confined to a wheelchair.

    So whenever someone insists on coming to work or going for a bike ride or otherwise pushing him or herself when he or she is sick, I always tell the person the story of my coworker and ask would you rather not work/bike/run for a day or two or for the rest of your life?

  6. Danny, great article!

    Anonymous, thanks for sharing that story – that is SCARY stuff! I agree that it’s something worth evaluating in choosing a job / deciding whether to stay.

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