Trigger warning – body stuff. Also, whining.
Yesterday I took a hot yoga class at a local studio in Charleston. It felt so good to get back on the mat but also: I had a full on meltdown when I got home. I think a lot is going on with me right now (I am still wiped from being sick last week… the antibiotics make me really tired and a little depressed?). Yoga can also release a lot of emotions – especially if you haven’t done it in a while and especially those deep hip openers.
I have been trying to pinpoint the words to use here for a feeling that I’ve had, across every area of life. And then it came to me: a lack of stamina.
A Lack of Stamina
If there is one way that the pandemic really impacted me (across the board, in all areas of life), that is it, and I’m really only realizing it now. I realize how fortunate I am. I’m fully vaxxed. I didn’t get COVID. I don’t know anyone who got really sick or died. And I don’t have kids so haven’t had to deal with all of the stress my friends with kids have gone through. Physically, at least, I am relatively unscathed. I am very very lucky. And 2021 has been a great year so far: I moved to one of my favorite places, I get to see my family all the time, I am in a really happy relationship, life is generally pretty great. That being said, I have no stamina. For anything.
Emotionally and mentally, I have a shorter fuse.
I’m impatient. I am not as productive as I used to be. Once upon a time I was a shining star example of good productivity. Lately, I am just scrambling to get it all done. Not because I’m any busier than usual, but because I’m tired. Once upon a time I would pride myself on going above and beyond my to-do list… getting absolutely everything done. Replying to every DM and comment, feeling super engaged with my audience, going above and beyond for my brand partners.
If I am being honest, a lot of days, what I really want is to do the bare bones minimum and then have a nap. I am an adult with bills to pay so I don’t do that, but a mid-day nap sounds pretty fabulous. But as someone who has always been self-motivated and achievement-focused, this makes me really angry at myself. So it’s this awful double whammy of being unproductive but also mad at myself.
The area where it’s worst is physically, and I’ve only just noticed.
First of all, and less importantly: I CAN NOT HANG. This manifests in a couple ways. When I go out with friends, I’m always the first to go home. Midnight and I’m ready to sleep. I’ll have two drinks and be hungover the next day.
The more embarrassing part is with more athletic stuff.
I used to run (I ran competitively in high school and college and then did marathons in my twenties… right before lockdown I was training for a half marathon!). Yoga was such a big part of my life. I took classes 5 or 6 days a week and would go on regular retreats. It had gotten to a point where I was thinking about taking a teacher training. When lockdown happened, that all came to a screeching halt. (Again, I recognize the privilege here – I have a lot of guilt complaining about this). I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t even read a book or watch a whole movie let alone dream of taking a sixty minute yoga class on zoom.
Eventually I started doing Melissa Wood Health’s workouts, and really liked (and still like) them. She really got me through the darker days of lockdown. It was all walks and twenty minute workouts.
Right now, trying to take AN HOUR LONG hot yoga class is excruciating. It felt seven hours long. I was drenched. There were a few times where I thought I was going to pass out. I was a little dizzy and so sweaty that I slipped a few times. And I got home and (besides just being really, really tired) started to spiral. I felt so embarrassed and disappointed in myself. It felt like all that work I had put in over the past several years had been for nothing. How did I let it get this bad? I am a beginner again and I HATE it. Also: working out for a full hour is HARD. I know it will get easier because it used to be the norm, but now that it’s not the norm.. it’s tough.
My body feels flabby and soft.
There are dimples in new places. I have a roll around my middle that is small on some days and large on other days, depending on the day. I feel guilty complaining about that too. My pre-pandemic clothes still fit (honestly though: that’s not an accomplishment, we put WAY too much of a correlation between health and weight. I lost weight during lockdown because I wasn’t sleeping or eating much… now, I’m happy and in a relationship, eating out a lot, drinking, and having FUN and have gained weight back. I’d rather be a few pounds heavier and happy than skinny and miserable).
My boyfriend grabs my hips or my butt and tells me how much he loves my body and rather than just appreciating that (especially as my last long term bf could be really critical of my body), I feel self conscious and soft and fret about how soft I am. I also just feel… disappointing, like I’m the sedentary one in the relationship. When we’re in California we will go for hikes and walks and I want to be able to hike up steep hills without getting out of breath but sometimes we are hiking and I get so hot and out of breath and feel like I am going to hyperventilate. It’s mortifying!
He’s in great shape, but let it be said: lockdown in Malibu vs. lockdown in Brooklyn were very different experiences. He was out hiking and surfing and being active while I was buying tie-dye sweats and rewatching Gossip Girl.
These feelings are probably also being brought on by my big upcoming birthday (I turn 40 on Monday).
While overall I feel pretty good and mostly excited about the birthday I also have to wonder: is this middle age? Am I just going to be tired all the time? Will it eventually get to a point where even one glass of wine gives me a hangover? Is an hour long workout class always going to feel this hard? Will I be productive again? Will I ever just feel… normal?
I don’t even know where I’m going with this but I wanted to share because these are the thoughts in my head right now and I feel like a lot of people are probably feeling this way. If reading my words makes you feel less alone or ashamed then I’ve done my job for the day. In the meantime I will give you the pep talk my boyfriend told me. “Don’t worry. You’ll get back to where you want to be. It’s a process and will be hard work but you’ll get there. Be nicer to yourself!”
Be nicer to yourself. Easy to say to others, harder to say to yourself. My goal for the rest of the week is to practice yoga at least one more time, but also to be kinder and gentler with myself. I encourage you (yoga or no yoga!) to do the same. xo