Tales of a 31-year-old white belt: 3 lbs of furious wattage
So things have been a little crazy the last few days or so….I have a major project due on Monday at work and it’s brought with it a lot of new challenges, particularly around project management. The root of the issue is that when you take a new businessperson and team them up with a new information architect (me), and a few other individuals who haven’t necessarily ever filled their exact roles before, and let them loose on a project with a vague scope, well, there’s a lot of cat-herding going on.
And I’m not afraid to say that I panic easily, am terrified of upper management as a general rule, and get obsessed with having pixel-perfect wireframes (yes, I know that’s a contradiction in terms). The end result is an all-nighter last Friday into Saturday (along with a few other assorted hours throughout the weekend) to get my wireframes done, crazy hours Monday, crazy hours again yesterday, and crazy hours today.
And OH MY GOD I’m exhausted.
The problem is I’m so exhausted I forget I’m exhausted. Case in point: I was smart enough to go home Monday after work instead of going to martial arts because I knew I couldn’t get through the calisthenics and I’d collapse. So that was smart.
What wasn’t so smart was not realizing that I wasn’t any better off yesterday.
Yesterday, I ate a healthy breakfast, ate a healthy lunch, and then spent four hours in an intense stress-filled situation cramming to finish a presentation that I then had to give to upper management (see point A about my feelings on management above). As soon as the presentation was over, I literally ran to my car (choking down a York peppermint patty on the way) to go to martial arts, which is in another building down the road.
At class, we did the usual warm-ups, then this cruel thing where you go from standing, to a squat, to kicking your feet behind you, do a pushup, back to the squat, then stand back up, then do it again. Ten of these. This was new exercise to me. My heart started pounding.
Then 50 jumping jacks. OK, I can swing that.
Then we went from standing into a squat, into a jump to tap our partners’ hands, back into a squat, like hyper frogs, for a total of 60 seconds. I think that’s probably when I started to lose my breath.
Then what I’ll call “laps” up and down the room – front kicks, then side kicks, then this cruel thing where you hop on one leg while kicking the other.
OK, look, I’m 175lbs on a good day and I’m 5 foot 3 when a generous nurse runs the scale. I’m built like a fire hydrant. Hopping on one foot sideways is freakin’ impossible to begin with, forget all the way up and down the room. Each lap I fell further and further behind the rest of the crowd, breathing harder and harder, heart feeling like it’s going to explode, which because I’m one bullheaded sunovabitch, just made me push myself harder. If all these other folks can do it, then the problem is I’m just not trying hard enough.
And I continued with that attitude until the edges of the room started to get kind of fuzzy and both Mr. and Mrs. Robinson made a point of saying “If anyone can’t handle this, you can bow out” while looking pointedly and directly at me.
Even I’m not dumb enough to ignore that particular mix of signals. Which is good, because by that point I was panting so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath at all. I think I might have been hyperventilating. Thank God I have a class of caring intelligent people — one of our highest ranking red belts came over and talked me through holding my breath just to slow my heart rate down so I could breathe again. And I got a good (positive, effective) talking to from both of my instructors, which I totally deserved for being so dumbass stupid and bullheaded.
But I couldn’t figure out what the hell happened. Yes, I’m out of shape. Yes, I shouldn’t try to keep up with people who have been practicing since 2005. Yes, I’d totally screwed my sleep schedule over the weekend and skipped not one but two workouts since the previous Wendesday. But I haven’t had a full breakdown of physical mechanics like that since college, when I discovered that not eating for an entire weekend is not conducive to crossing campus Monday morning.
And then tonight Nighthawk and I watched Human Body: Pushing the Limits, which we’d DVR’d, and something clicked. We were watching the episode on the human brain, which talked about the need for sleep, the need for cooling, and the need for energy. Turns out this three pound lump of grey matter between our ears uses on average 1/5th of our energy in a day. That’s right, the brain’s a giant energy sucker. And I ran it ragged for 4 hours.
Even though I’d eaten a good 1000 calories or so yesterday, the same amount I usually eat, and I’d had plenty of water, I’m now realizing that I’d burned through a lot more energy than I thought I had. (Keep in mind that if I eat more than 1550 calories in a day I gain weight. 1000 calories through lunch is actually *high* for my slow-ass metabolism.)
By the time I got to class, as my cousin would say, my stubbornness was writing checks my body couldn’t cash.
When I finally did catch my breath, by the way, I recovered enough to practice forms with the rest of the class with no further issues except for the blister I got on the bottom of my big toe. (Apparently they are not yet made of iron.) But I popped that nasty thing and it’s healing nicely, so I should be fine by Monday.
Monday — when I have to give two more presentations and hand over this project. Yeah, I’m thinking that had better be a 2000 calorie day.
In other news, I think I’m going to have all my ducks in a row without resorting to another all-work weekend by Monday, and then I might just get to revert back to a normal work schedule. As an added bonus, my brother and I are going to the Phillies game tomorrow, so life is really damn good. You know, if you ignore the screaming thighs, angry toe, and pure flat-out exhaustion.