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Your Body Calls B.S.


Are you one of those fiercely independent people who always insists on doing things yourself? Maybe you enjoy pushing past your physical limits to see just how much your body can take, and just how much you can accomplish with help from no one. Perhaps you have something to prove to other people in your life, and push yourself to excel despite the overwhelm. Maybe you lack a reliable support system and function this way out of necessity. Or maybe you just enjoy the thrill of the challenge, digging deep and finding your way through the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical demands of life. Whatever your motivation, that driven self-sufficiency can feel pretty amazing sometimes. A bit of a high. But this mindset can also bring you to your knees in surrender.


Ask me how I know.


So about 5 years ago ago, when I was really struggling with my health in ways I had never ever experienced before, my husband bought me an Oura ring. I know that word "oura" might sound a little sketchy to some of you Nervous Nellies, but really it's just a bio-tracking device much like a FitBit, except you wear it on your finger like a ring, rather than a watch. It's rather Hobbit-y, in a scientific sort of way. The Smartphone app syncs with your ring, and each day you get a daily report card of how your body is doing overall, if you're brave enough to look at the results.


One of the main problems I wanted to nail down and solve with this cool device at that time was my troubled sleep. If you've ever struggled to fall asleep, stay asleep, get back to sleep, or wake feeling refreshed, you know the daily misery of what I was experiencing. And I really needed something objective to help me determine exactly what was going on and what I could do to bring my body back into a state of balance. Because until then, I was that person who insisted I could handle it. Lack of sleep? No problem. HIIT workout followed by a run? I got this. Managing three small children by myself most hours of the day and most days of the week in a stressed out, sleep-deprived state? Watch me do it.


And I did do it. For a time.


Nowadays I'm a much wiser woman, and I try hard not to fall into that destructive trap of stubborn pride anymore. I've learned to set boundaries. I've been humbled to ask for help. I've come realize that my body actually does have limits, and the quicker I learn to honor them, the better I feel and the more stable, calm, and joyful my life feels. This way of living also sets a much better example of body stewardship for my children, who watch and learn from my mistakes and baby steps of progress.


I've also learned to be more attentive to the earlier signs and symptoms that my body is struggling and begging for a break. The Oura ring has definitely helped with that, because whatever bogus lies and utter nonsense I might tell myself... I'm fine...I can power through this... I'll get it done...THE DATA DOESN'T LIE.


Allow me to share a few screenshots for explanation. This first picture is from yesterday morning. We had a lovely Easter celebration yesterday, but 1) the week leading up to it was a bit chaotic, unsettling, and emotional, and 2) I ate some foods at Easter dinner that I don't usually eat. The fallout is shown below. So now I know I have some work to do - cut back on heavy exercise for a day or two, rein in my meals to foods that don't irritate my gut, rest more, and continue to breathe and pray through the difficult days in life, because we all have them!



This next screen shot below is from before Christmas, when I was experiencing a really weird and really troubling trend with my heart, of all things! If you don't know, HRV (heart rate variability) is a measure of how your heart is responding to daily stressors. (not all stress is bad, by the way). While trends vary from person to person, higher numbers are generally ideal - we want our heart rate to vary robustly throughout the day as it responds to various inputs - both good and bad. Low numbers mean your heart is stressed by something and is stuck in a state of overwhelm - could be anything from emotional turmoil, to environmental toxins like mold or medication, to illness, to food sensitivities, and anything in between. Historically my HRV runs between 40-60, and sometimes higher. But something happened in early November - - I still don't know what - - that caused my HRV to tank for weeks on end until it was barely a red blip on the screen, and the plummet literally happened overnight, like someone flipped a switch. It's been slowly improving since then, but I'm still exploring the mystery of what caused it. My best guess thus far - HORMONES. My 51st birthday is just around the corner, so despite cycling without issue and having no other related symptoms, I know the Big M is on the way sooner rather than later. And yes, hormonal fluctuations can definitely impact your lub-dubber because we have estrogen receptors in every nook and cranny of our bodies, including in our heart!


I was sick was a respiratory something-or-other almost the entire month of February, and the third image below confirms it. I wrote about it here. Prior to this, I hadn't been sick since the old Covid days more than 3 years ago, but this thing really took me down...maybe as a result of the weird HRV trend that preceded it? I think 37 is the absolute lowest readiness score I've ever had since using my Oura ring. So this illness was no joke. But I was patient with my body, gave it the rest and nutrients it needed, and recovered - albeit slowly - with no pharmaceuticals and no doctor visits.



What's odd is that sometimes I wake up and check all my Oura scores, and they don't necessarily reflect the way I feel in that moment. Sometimes my numbers are awful, but I feel pretty decent. It's like my body knows what's coming, but my brain hasn't gotten the memo yet! Typically, though, the symptoms start matching the numbers within another 24-48 hours. Other days my scores are all in blue, but I start the morning feeling a little off, usually improving as the day progresses. Again, my body knows I'm on the road to recovery and all is well, but my brain is still working out a little of the residual sludge.


If you struggle knowing when to say when and rest, maybe an Oura ring would be a worthy investment for you. The data holds you accountable and encourages you to make wise decisions in the best interest of your own wellness. You can cooperate or ignore, but the numbers will continue to tell the story, regardless of what you choose. Choose well!

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