Essential Sports Nutrition

9/6/19

Dealing with FOMO


Although Karel and I had our plans set on focusing on IM Kona this year, Karel and I are having a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) in looking at all the incredible pictures of athletes at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France. What a beautiful race venue! But thankfully, we have four amazing Trimarni athletes who are participating and we can virtually share the experience with each of them.


As it relates to social media, we can quickly see that people often post pictures and updates showing the highlights of life - the good moments. From this perspective, social media can be viewed as "fake" because we only see the best side of what's happening in the lives of others. However, this is not always the case. When used properly, social media is a way to connect with others, share experience and document important moments in life. Behind every smiling post is a story.

As I scroll through social media and see picture after picture of athletes in beautiful Nice, France, as much as I'd love to be there, I am not destroyed by envy. It's actually the opposite - I'm so super excited for others to experience a World Championship event in such a beautiful location! I know the work it takes to get to the start line - and not every journey is a smooth one (I can attest to that!). We must remember that anytime an athlete posts a picture in the days leading up to an event, we must not forget the sacrifice, investments, work and struggles that were needed to get to the start line. The accomplishment lies in the journey, not the final destination.

When it comes to social media and FOMO, we must not resent other people's successful moments. Bitterness robs you of your mental strength and can affect your emotional well-being.

Here are a few tips to help you deal with FOMO: 
  1. Don't compare - Comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing yourself to other people isn't a healthy way to measure your self-worth. We all have our own journey to follow and our own obstacles to overcome. Most of all, we all have our own unique talents, strengths and experiences.
  2. Be accepting - It's often said that it takes 10-years to become an overnight success. Don't diminish someone else's accomplishment as you don't know what he/she had to overcome (or how long it took) to get to where they are today. Acknowledge achievement without judgement. Be proud of the success of others.
  3. Don't assume - When you make an assumption, you are filling in blanks with your interpretation of what you see or hear. Assumptions can spiral into negative thinking - believing that you aren't good enough, smart enough, working hard enough....... When you look to social media for validation that your assumptions about yourself are correct, you may believe that everyone is successful, except for you. Before you make an assumption, ask yourself if what you are thinking is the truth - about others and about yourself.
  4. Acknowledge your strengths - Just because you think the grass is greener on the other side, this doesn't mean that you need to follow in their footsteps. Chase your own dreams, accept that you can't do it all (or be great at everything), create your own definition of success, keep your eyes on your own path and most of all, recognize your own strengths. Instead of wasting your precious time comparing yourself to others, spend it figuring out what is meaningful to you.
  5. Stay present - Take the time to enjoy where you are now, instead of constantly chasing the next accomplishment or searching for the next "best ever" experience. Appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you lack or feel you need to be happy. Be grateful for what you have in life right now, in this moment.

9/3/19

When life happens


Life can be extremely difficult, sad and unfair.

On Sunday afternoon, Karel drove three hours (each way) to pick-up our two new family members - Ella and Felix. Just shy of two months old, we couldn't wait to welcome these two beautiful furry ones to their forever home. Although we didn't plan on getting another cat after Smudla passed away in April, we really wanted to rescue these two adorable kittens.

Instantly we feel in love with Ella and Felix. Campy was scared and curious of the kittens and Madison (our 11.5 year old cat) was not very happy. This was my first time having kittens to take care of as both Campy and Madison came to us (as rescues) when they were ~1 year old.

Unfortunately, on Monday morning I received the news that my almost 96-year old Grandpa Joe passed away peacefully in his sleep. Thankfully, I had a Facetime "call" with him on Sunday and I was able to speak with him one last time. Coincidentally, my mom (his daughter) was in town so she was able to spend a lot of time with him before he passed away. Instead of a funeral, my aunt threw a memorial service on Wednesday to celebrate his wonderful life. I flew up to Fort Wayne Indiana on Tues and traveled back home on Thurs morning.

On Monday before I booked my flights, I noticed that Felix had a little cough - I couldn't tell if it was a hairball or a reverse sneeze as he only did it a few times throughout the day. Karel and I Facetimed several times while I was away as he was having so much fun with our entertaining kitties. Karel mentioned that Felix still had his cough so we asked a few friends if we should be concerned. Most mentioned it was nothing concerning but perhaps taking him to the vet would ease our worries.

On Thursday, we noticed that Felix was not eating. He was also breathing a little heavy and he was very lethargic. This worried us so we took him to the ER animal hospital around 9pm. Felix had to be put on Oxygen and they told us he may have the feline herpes virus and to give him antibiotics. Both kittens needed eye drops when they came to us. After we left the ER around 12:15am, we had a very restless night of sleep worrying about Felix. On Friday morning, Karel took Felix and Ella to the vet to get them checked out and the vet wanted to keep Felix all day due to his respiratory issue. He was kept in an Oxygen chamber to help him breath. We skipped our morning swim and managed to gather just enough energy for a very short run (I ran on the treadmill and Karel ran outside). When the vet called around 4pm, we received news that they were very worried about Felix and that we needed to take him back to the ER animal hospital. Ella stayed at the vet all day so that she could keep her buddy company - although she had more fun playing with all the vet techs and running around. We picked up Ella and Felix around 5pm and made our way to the ER animal hospital. They quickly put Felix in an Oxygen chamber and we waited until we saw the vet. The vet was very worried and she suggested that we do x-rays to determine what was going on. We agreed, even though it was risky to do the x-rays due to the stress of everything going on. The X-ray showed extreme fluid around his lungs (Pneumonia). The prognosis was not good but we wanted to give him a chance to fight it. We went home from the ER around 7:30pm and cried and worried about our little Felix.

On Saturday morning, the vet called around 6am and told us that Felix was declining. We then had to make the decision if they should give CPR in the case anything happened and we decided against it as it was just too much for his little body to handle. We had planned a long bike ride (5-6 hours) with friends from out of town on Saturday morning at 8am but it was a struggle to even think about the thought of riding. We mustered the energy to get started, hoping that being around our friends who help clear our mind, but around 2 hours into the ride, Karel and I couldn't focus and we were no longer benefiting from the ride. We just wanted to go home to Ella (my mom was watching her as we were super scared and worried about her as well). After 3.3 hours of riding, we were so relieved to finally be at home. Later that evening, we received the news that Felix did not survive. This was devastating to hear and our life felt like it turned upside down.

After my hip/back issue in early July, scratching my cornea in early August, my Grandpa passing away and now losing Felix, I feel like my positivity tank is running really low. I just can't find the silver lining to this recent loss. What should have been a happy time for us, turned into something so heart-braking. We are sad, confused and upset.

I hesitated to write about this recent sadness on my blog - which serves as an inspirational, motivational and educational place for athletes and fitness enthusiasts - but I feel it's important to show the difficult times as my life is far from perfect.

Grief is a natural response to loss. I know this well from losing my dad to cancer in May of 2014 - just three days shy of my 32nd birthday. The pain of loss can feel overwhelming - especially when it's a loved one or family member. With all kinds of unexpected emotions, grief can easily disrupt your physical health - making it difficult to eat, sleep, think straight or exercise.

For any athlete training for an important competition/event, it's normal to want life to be easy and smooth so that all energy and focus can go toward the preparation of the big event. Many times, athletes try to remove additional stressors in an effort to focus purely on training. However, when life happens - it can be difficult to gather the energy to train, let alone have the motivation or energy to exercise.

Any type of loss can cause grief. Whatever the loss may be for you, you should never feel ashamed that you need time to grieve. Healing happens gradually. We all grieve in different ways. But the important thing is to focus on healthy ways to cope with the pain that you feel when it comes to loss. 

For athletes, you may find it easy to give up on training all together in an effort to grieve. This is ok. You may also choose to pursue your training to help you cope with the loss. This is also ok.
What's not ok is to ignore the pain or keep it from surfacing. As this may lead into unhealthy coping mechanisms such as food, drugs, alcohol or extreme exercise to numb uncomfortable feelings and emotions.

As an athlete, you have likely taught yourself how to be very mentally tough. Feeling sad is a normal reaction to loss - this doesn't mean you are weak. It's ok to show your feelings, write about them or talk to close friends and family. Some people cry and others don't We all have our own ways of showing that we are sad.

Because there is no timetable of grieving, it's understandable that you may have good and bad days. While time may help you find it easier to move on with life, this doesn't mean that you forgot about your loss. Grief triggers many different and unexpected emotions and it can be a roller coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows.

Although we are continuing to train for IM Kona, are expectations are realistic and reasonable for all that we have been through. More so for myself, my training has had so many interruptions this summer, I will just be thankful to get to the start line.

This is life and sometimes life happens. I share this with you to encourage you to always take care of yourself as you grieve. And just because life happens, this doesn't mean that you have to give up on your training or races. Because a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves, you can't push your physical and emotional needs to the side. Although it's been extremely hard, we are trying to maintain our hobby of triathlon. The lifestyle of swim/bike/run does bring us happiness and it's important to continue making time for our own needs. Some workouts have been a struggle to complete and others just didn't get done but we are making the effort to get back to our routine. Again, it's very important not to use alcohol, drugs or food to numb the pain of grief or to give you a temporary mood boost. Face your feelings and express your feelings in a creative way. If grief becomes complicated, you are unable to perform your normal daily activities, feel like life isn't worth living and you begin to find yourself depressed or anxious, contact a grief counselor or professional therapist for help.

While this has been a very difficult time for us, our hearts are being filled with the love and cuteness of our sweet Ella - who also goes by the names of Ella Bella and Monkey. She's topping the scales at 14.5 ounces and she looks up to her older sister Madison and big bro Campy.