By: Lauren Anderson
What a word. It doesn’t get used very often anymore outside of New Yorker articles and history lessons about the downfall of Rome. But after the week I’ve had, I thought it was only fitting. Also, ‘hubris’ made for a delicious alliteration with America’s greatest holiday–Halloween.
Full disclosure, I looked it up to make sure I was using it right. To refresh everyone’s memory, (but mostly my own), hubris means “excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance”. Uh oh. You might guess where this is going…
Despite being stressed, at a tipping point, and feeling like it’s been hard to hold on; I’ve also been feeling really good about all the work I’ve been putting in at the gym. Maybe too good. Maybe I was getting full of myself. I’ve been going to the gym about 4 times a week for at least 3 weeks now. This is the most working out I’ve done since— EVER. Working on the fall challenge, and my back program had me at the gym so often, I was feeling like a bonafide gym rat. And I was loving it.
It all culminated last Monday, when I went to open gym, and did my back programming. Then, Coach Jenn showed up, and asked me to do a bench workout with her. Not her watching me. Not her coaching me (although she still did), but WITH her. It was awesome! We worked out in the new part of the gym, and got to use the fancy multi-colored weights that are only in kilos. I was feeling pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Between my back workout, my body analysis, and my bench workout with Jenn– I was at the gym from 2:30 to 5:30. That’s 3 hours! Granted, a large portion of that time was doing the math that it takes to convert pounds to kilos… but still! Three hours. That’s like, almost Madonna-like dedication.
And I was having a blast too! I took my time, chatting with my new gym buds, stretching, and listening in on a fascinating conversation between the coaches about collagen as a recovery tool. I left the gym that day seriously contemplating protein smoothies, enjoying the post workout glow, not thinking for a moment that it was odd.
But it was ODD. I just did 2 workouts! What the? Also, I’ve never contemplated a recovery drink before in my life! I don’t even know what that is! Who do I think I am?!?!
And the universe knew it too. So the universe giveth, and the universe taketh away…
Tuesday is my typical day away from the gym. But a corporate gig on Wednesday made me have to cancel that class as well. UGH. I found myself chomping at the bit to get back to the gym, and then BAM. Thursday I woke up to my alarm, and I couldn’t move.
My back spasmed. I couldn’t move AT ALL. I was terrified. I have never experienced anything like that before in my life. I had to roll off my bed, and sorta earthworm crawl to the bathroom. I emailed Coach Hannah, and after a strange and painful shower, I slowly bent my back into the car and quickly drove myself to Urgent Care.
Luckily, it was exactly what I expected. My back had spasmed in my sleep. Meaning the muscle cramped, and would not relax. This is due to strain (2 workouts anyone?), then inactivity. Which makes sense, because I worked out extra on Monday, but not at all on Tuesday. And after my corporate gig on Wednesday, I went promptly home and luxuriated in my bed like a sloth. Only getting up to grab another La Croix.
Basically, I did too much with my already weakened back, then I did too little. Jeez Anderson! You did this to yourself?! What were you thinking?!! *palms face in shame
The doctor put me on muscle relaxers. Only a few, but that was all I needed. Within the hour, my back released it’s hell-knot and I thankfully went to work. After the hard morning, I thought I deserved a treat. So I got myself a large salted caramel latte. (Basic, I know, but it was so good.)
The muscle relaxers are no joke. Every time I sat in a chair for more than a minute, I would fall asleep. It wasn’t any help that it was Halloween week, and there were masses of candy and cookies and treats at my easy disposal.
To keep myself awake, I started eating candy. Even though I know I only get sleepier with processed sugar. And I don’t know about all of you, but when I’m tired I get more hungry. Also, I guess I was tricking myself into treating myself.
I mean, I was in pain *pout pout* I neeeeeeed it right?!
Between the muscle relaxers, the caffeine spike, and the sugar crashes– it’s a wonder how I did the show that night. But luckily I was able to rally, and we pulled off a great performance for our audience.
Inexplicably, my back felt better AFTER the show. Which is weird, because all we do is run around and sing and dance and move quickly. But that’s the thing about back stuff. You think you should stay still, but moving your body is the best thing for it!
I woke up on Friday morning feeling better. I decided to take it easy and not go to the gym, take another pill, and be sure to do some stretches. I also made myself get up and go for a walk. By the time I got to rehearsal, my back felt better. Similar to how it’s been. Not back to normal, but better.
And because I was feeling better, I decided to eat some more candy. Y’know, cause I earned it.
By Saturday, I didn’t need to take a muscle relaxer because my back was feeling even better. I was elated! So again, I treated myself to some more candy.
But let’s be clear here… by some I mean a lot this time. And I was sure to put some candy in my pockets for when I got home later that night. I was on a candy bender. I could see it coming like people on the beach in a disaster movie. Standing there, dumbstruck, not moving or running away, just watching the tidal wave crash in. Helpless against the candy.
Even though I saw it happening, I decided to double-down. On my way home, with my pockets full of Halloween candy, I stopped by the grocery store and bought some Halloween-themed doughnuts, and some peach-flavored sparkling non-alcoholic wine. You did what? Yeah, you heard me. Fake peach wine, doughnuts, and halloween candy. Classy AF.
I think you can probably tell what happened next right? …Sugar Coma.
I woke up the next morning with all the lights still on. Sitting upright in my leather club chair, with fun-size Kit Kat wrappers on my chest, doughnut crumbs on my face, and my computer auto-playing some police procedural like Chicago Blue. Or Blue Shield. Or Chicago Shield. You know, one of those.
It took three tries to get out of the chair because sleeping upright made my back even more stiff.
It was a nightmare. It was hubris.
I got too big for my breeches, too cocky for the walk, and I tried to fly too close to the sun.
You know how I know it’s hubris? Cause continuing to workout while nursing your back under the guidance of your coaches and your doctor? That’s good. That’s what they want you to do.
Working out too hard, then laying around like a lazy bear for two days? That’s arrogant. That’s just asking for it. Hubris.
And eating some candy cause it’s Halloween and it’s fun? That’s good. That’s good for your spirit! That’s what the 80/20 lifestyle is all about!
But eating handfuls of candy for a week straight, resulting in an end-of-week candy, cookie, latte, wine, doughnut death blow? HUBRIS.
In some ways, I’m thankful for the embarrassing candy coup de grace. It was very humbling. It’s a good reminder that making big changes is really hard, with a lot of peaks and valleys. That I have a very deep and difficult relationship with food. And although I’ve made hella progress that I can be proud of, and I feel healthier about food than I ever have, I still must be mindful. I have to be forgiving. And I have to keep moving forward.
And even though I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and I feel more body love than ever, I am not the “Olympian” I might think I am. And there is a difference between pushing yourself, and over-doing it.
Also, I’m trying to recover my back, and I must remember, it’s a careful process. And I must take the advice of those around me and go slow and steady. With compassion for my body, and for what it needs. Not go really fast and furious, or nothing at all. And I have to keep moving forward.
I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, but I cannot forget how much I still have to learn. I must keep moving humbly forward. Patiently, Mercifully, and with Courage.
And leave the hubris for the Greek Gods and the politicians.
Okay, universe. I get it. I get it now. One step at a time, and one piece of candy at a time.