Wow. It has been a while.
In the past million years that I haven’t been blogging, here’s what I have been doing:
- I quit my job at the end of May
- I went on my honeymoon to Maui in July
- I started grad school in August
- I competed in Girls Gone Rx for the second time in September
- I ceased all social and practical functions outside of grad school… pretty much always
That about sums it up. And in response to my last post about my weight gain and my low sex drive and all that fun stuff, unfortunately I have not been able to figure it out yet. I have noticed a little bit of a difference with the Gaia Adrenal Health supplement, so I’ve been taking that pretty regularly, and it has maybe boosted me from about 5% to 8%, which isn’t a huge improvement but it’s not nothin. But I have developed a tremor in my hands, and sometimes in my legs. I’ve seen a neurologist, who told me that it’s not a brain tumor because the tremor is the same on both sides, and that it’s not Parkinson’s because the tremor only happens when my muscles are active (aka when I flex my hands or arms like when I’m trying to write, hold a spoon, or, y’know, put a barbell over my head). Beyond that, he couldn’t really offer me anything except a prescription for beta blockers, the side effects for which seemed way worse than the tremor itself. Then I saw an endocrinologist, who told me that my thyroid levels “could not be more spot-on,” so it’s not hyperthyroidism. I’m waiting on the results from an adrenal function panel, but the endo told me that she’d be surprised if anything turned up. Next stop is a functional medicine doctor, then an acupuncturist, then a chiropractor. Woooohoo!
Which brings me to why I am resurrecting my blog. Most of you know that I now have a podcast for CrossFit women called Girls Gone WOD Podcast. And if you didn’t know, now you know. We are available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio, and it has been a super fun experience, but I feel like it has sort of taken away the point of blogging, because anything I would blog about, I just talk about on the podcast instead. But during my neurology appointment, then again during my endocrinology appointment, then again when discussing my symptoms with a nurse friend, and then again every time I google my symptoms, it has been suggested to me that it might be time to take a break from CrossFit.
If there is one thing that my symptoms–low libido, tremor, anxiety, weight gain, fatigue–have in common, it is that all of those things are related to chronically high cortisol levels. I get anxiety, which gives me high cortisol, which keeps me from being able to sleep, which makes my cortisol higher, which makes me gain weight and maybe even lose libido, which makes my anxiety worse, which gives me even MORE cortisol… and so on. And even though exercise can have very positive effects on stress and cortisol levels, high intensity exercises (like the kind I do in CrossFit 3+ times a week) can actually elevate your cortisol, especially if you already have high levels. Try yoga, I’ve been told. Take up meditating. Go on more hikes. And maybe, they eventually suggest, take a little break from CrossFit for a few weeks. Not forever. But just to see if it helps.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m 26 (well, 10 days away from being 27), and something about my body is falling apart, and I need to do something about it. And if I am lucky enough that “doing something about it” just means taking a month or two to focus on mobility and hydration instead of clean and jerks and 400m sprints, then I figure I have it pretty easy. However I do worry that if I ignore these problems for much longer, I might end up in a much more serious position sooner than later.
Starting, well, last Wednesday, because that’s the last time I did a metcon, I am taking a break. But I’m trying to look at it as an off-season. Every other sport has an off-season, right? Skiing, biking, even professional sports like football. But I have been doing CrossFit 2-5x a week for the past 2.5+ years, and the longest break I’ve ever taken was for about 10 days last year when I had a mole removed on my back and had to get stitches (well that’s just a lovely visual isn’t it). That’s a lot of stress on my body! And the off-season doesn’t necessarily mean that you sit on the couch for 8 weeks, right? It means that you use the time to strengthen some weak muscle groups through low-impact accessory work, improve your flexibility, zero in on your diet, rehab nagging injuries. So, for the next 8 weeks, that is what I will be hoping to do. And I will keep you posted.
So, here’s to the off-season. Let’s hope it makes me less crazy.