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How to Keep Paddling On

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

Kayaking is like carrying on with autoimmune disease
Paddling a kayak is like carrying on with autoimmune disease

We’ve had those moments when it all gets feeling really heavy. We have kids that need us, family members that need us, jobs, finances, personal goals. We could end it right there and it would be enough, but now there is pain, fatigue, and the system that is built in to help manage stress is literally out of order when you include the basics of autoimmune issues and adrenal issues.

I know this because I’ve done it. I still manage it constantly and realize that if this is going to be a lifelong deal, I need to have a plan for those times when the demands increase and my abilities to cope decrease. Do you mind if I share that with you? Let’s put good use the times I’ve sat in bed for days at a time brainstorming my way through and around the most recent flare-up. And I hope you share what you’ve learned from those days as well. We could all use it.

1. Check your mindset:

Imagine a kayak on the ocean. Outwardly you see someone working like crazy to get things done when their arms are working and they are sweating and their heart rate is pushing zone 5, right? But often it’s hard to even realize there is a current underneath. Our mind, our thoughts, are the current. They push us toward our destination without us even being aware of it most of the time. If we quit paddling so hard for a moment, maybe to do some repairs on the kayak, we realize that we can manipulate that current to take us where we were paddling so hard to get to in the first place. With new thoughts we can create less resistance, use less energy, tap into the intuition that we have suppressed over years of pushing ourselves regardless of the signals we are getting from our bodies, and heal much, much faster. Once that little boat gets some maintenance and the current is managed, anything you add by way of paddling will be so much more efficient.

An action step for this would be to check your thoughts about your situation. In my experience, the thought and belief that causes the most resistance, costs the most energy, and is SO extremely common and counterproductive, is “This shouldn’t be happening.” I found that thought wreaking havoc in my own mind as I struggled through, “I’m too young for this” and “This isn’t fair”. If you find that thought in your mind, it’s okay. No judgements, just be aware that you will have to fight this current to give yourself permission to heal and there is an easier way.

2. Have a Plan A.

If you are used to being a powerhouse, you’re probably pretty good at Plan B, Plan C and most likely manage the plans through Z and beyond in outline form with dates, times, and color coding. Those days don’t need to be over, just don’t forget about Plan A.

Plan A consists of the basics. It’s the oxygen mask on the plane when it is going through turbulence. It doesn’t look particularly productive from the outside, that’s why we often overlook it, but in the long run it makes huge impacts.

The first day I actually bought into this was when I tied my race time a full year after backing off of my workouts. I went from working out 12 to 15 hours a week to about 4 and was sure it was pointless to even agree to do a cycling leg of a triathlon. I had been on a bike about 5 times in the last year, but what I had consistently done was 15 minutes of strategic interval training 2 to 3 times a week. I had a palm to the forehead moment when I realized the previous 12 to 15 hours a week was unnecessary and counterproductive.

Make sure your Plan A consists of things that will get you through, thriving, in the mind and body arenas. Your thoughts affect your body, your body affects your thoughts. It’s tempting to cover the physical bases because it looks productive but include things that help the mind: the most advanced tool on the planet.

Your action step for this would be to find the few things that are the basics and incorporate them into your Every. Single. Day. If you are having the flare up of your life, this AM/PM routine wouldn’t need to change.

My AM routine includes writing in a prayer and gratitude journal, eating a healthy breakfast shake, yoga, meditation, looking at my vision board, and reading my declarations. For me, these include my needs to be goal driven and intentional, keep my blood sugar steady, hit some good macros first thing in the morning, incorporate activity (especially activity that signals rest and digest and stimulates the vagus nerve), bring my higher power into my recovery, and make sure my thoughts are productive, focusing on abundance, and incorporating positive emotion and feeling into my daily life. My PM routine will include things that focus on sleep. Your routine may look very different, just include your heavy hitters. Hint: sleep is always a heavy hitter. For an amazing resource, check out the book “Sleep Smarter” by Shawn Stephenson.

If I am checking in with my body and I have the green light, Plan B includes a workout that gets me some training toward a race or a summit, more goals, and general upping of the game and so on. Confession: I have plans that include what I’m going to be doing in nursing homes. Don’t give up on your plans, your adventures, your goals. There is more than one way to get where you want to be. Find it.

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