This is a post from My Health Journey, an ongoing series where I document my health progress. Follow along to see, month after month, how I implement my recovery protocol, handle stressful situations, eliminate food sensitivities, incrementally train my nervous system to handle more stress, and ultimately, how my method continues to allow me greater and greater freedom, happiness, and health!
June is over, and summer is here, so it's time for another recovery story update! I've been enjoying plenty of sunshine and a complicated month that had me experiencing the most days with pain-free time for yet another consecutive month. Curiously, it also served as a setback in an unexpected way despite this pain relief. Let's start with the difficult part of my month and then get to the tremendous new high for my health!
A Step Backward with Workout Symptoms
"You have to have a complete health toolkit to manage such situations, which, thankfully, is my specialty, and what I work to help all of my coaching clients to develop."
Much to my surprise, my body suddenly returned to the symptoms of October of last year, reacting with intense stress and inflammation to weightlifting. I didn't identify it last month when I resumed lifting. I thought the extra tiredness was to be expected after a three-week layoff from intense exercise and nothing more. However, as I kept trying to lift every other day as I had been successfully for the past months, my strength started decreasing, and my pain and fatigue levels surged. While my pain has been in the 0-4 range for almost all of this year, for most of this past month, it was back up to 3-6, despite plenty of zeros, which was quite odd for me. I know this reaction well. It is essentially overtraining. It was even easier to conclude this was the cause from seeing my resting heart rate.
I can always tell when my body is more inflamed, as my heart rate would commonly be over 90 when idle after a workout that was too much for my system. However, that number came down slowly over the past year to the point that in May, before I had food poisoning, my heart rate would be down to the typical 50s and 60s even after an intense workout. This photo here shows my resting heart rate for the month. The spike I was coming down from was the aftermath of the food poisoning. First, I stabilized down at 58 beats per minute. Then it steadily marched up as I started lifting again. I think I have broken through the worst of the trend, as my resting heart rate has stabilized, and I'm only seeing numbers in the 70s and 80s after a workout now.
After reflection, I identified two causes:
- Simple deconditioning. I had to tease the pain across 20 months with gentle weight training with as many days off as I needed for the pain to go down before attempting to exercise again, ice baths after each session, and was propelled over the top in December of 2021 when I introduced regular massage gun therapy after lifting and Kion's Flex supplement.
- The tissues shortened and tightened from having food poisoning, making it easier to overuse them. I did not realize the overwhelmingly negative lasting effect of the food poisoning keeping me in bed for 30 of 36 hours. My nerve pain starts to come back if I stay immobile for very long, which is why movement throughout my day is a non-negotiable part of my schedule. Even sleeping over 8 hours starts to bring it back. Sleeping and lying down that much essentially significantly set my system and tissues back.
So what was I to do? The same thing I did to fix these problems in the first place: recommit to the old routine. As I mentioned last month, when you've recovered from something, it can be quite useful to go back to an old protocol that worked. In this case, it was more of Year 4 recovery tactics. I abandoned the idea of lifting every other day and instituted a policy of "If I'm too sore, too tired, or in too much pain, then the workout is postponed to tomorrow." I also reinstituted an ice bath after every workout, after being able to reduce them to only on days with chin-ups and pullups. Lastly, I began to use my massage gun every day to combat the tightening effect that started from all the idleness. I had one day in particular that the massage gun alleviated all the pain and fatigue, which was a turning point for getting back to exercise regularly. On top of that, I am adding Kion's Aminos Powder to my recovery regimen in July.
With chronic health problems, it's tempting to think of them as acute health problems and feel like you're completely over a symptom or condition and that you never have to worry about it again. However, that's often not how recovery works from a chronic condition. Usually, if you were weak genetically or damaged to a certain degree, that part of the body will likely always be susceptible. On top of that, the nervous system will be ready to fire up the old brain patterns to bring it back with little provocation.
Health recovery is a process and properly defined, is measured across improvements across the whole spectrum of health. Even though I am not tolerating exercise as well as in the last half-year, with pain still vanishing on more days than ever in a month, that is the most important milestone to measure. Thus, I'm still grading this month as progress since this milestone outweighs the workout problems, which are something I have conquered previously and am obviously on track to conquering again.
You can never stop doing good things for your health in order to maintain it, with or without a chronic health problem. You have to be prepared for setbacks and keep track of what got you your progress from the chronic condition. Usually, those same habits can get you past any relapses or reemergence of old symptoms. Occasionally, more intervention is necessary--context always matters and has to be examined to see if what you're dealing with is truly the same or not. In this case, I don't think anything has changed. The addition of the Aminos was something I was already looking to do to aid my workout recovery, given the great success I've had with the Flex product. It just may be even more helpful to me now.
You have to have a complete health toolkit to manage such situations, which, thankfully, is my specialty, and what I work to help all of my coaching clients to develop. In this case, I'll stick with the above interventions, and if the pain doesn't start decreasing after workouts, I will begin to lower the weights I'm lifting until I find ones that aren't too taxing for my system. However, with the pain-free time trend, I'm confident I'm already on the right track. Furthermore, with my past of conquering far worse nerve pain from exercise than this, I am sure I'll be lifting without problems again.
A Giant Leap Forward with Pain-Free Time
Now on to the good of this recovery story update! Despite the increased overall pain and fatigue from the overtraining experience and not identifying it quickly enough, I had pain-free time every day except the 7th and 21st. That makes for a new record of 93.3% of the days in a month! In addition, I had two 13-day streaks starting with the last seven days of May into June and from the 8th into the 20th. I'm on a nine-day streak at the time of this writing, so I'm eager to see how long it lasts with a trip to Washington D.C. and another for Ketocon to start next month. I take it as a fantastic sign of my progress that I could have the most time without pain yet despite the negative symptoms I began experiencing from weightlifting. I expect to feel my best once my body fully reacclimates to exercise.
Megamycobalance, Megaspore, and GI-Revive Supplements
I went through with my plan to do a trial of Megamycobalance to see if I was suffering from any candida or other fungal overgrowth. In addition, I began Megasporebiotic to give my gut further support after the food poisoning. As I'd hoped, I had zero symptoms from either, even when reaching the maximum dosages. I stopped Megamycobalance since there was no fungal die-off. However, I'll continue with Megaspore since it is an excellent general spectrum probiotic and given my history of histamine intolerance and how effective it is for such symptoms. Of particular interest to me is that my digestive health has generally been better after the food poisoning than it was before it and before I began these two products. I suspect the purge the food poisoning induced plus careful rebuild of my gut after with white rice, kefir, and the GI-Revive supplement (note this is an affiliate link) that I added in the first week of this month have everything to do with that.
Five-Day Water Fast Postponed
As I mentioned last month, I went off my ketogenic diet to help restore my gut with gentle and restorative foods such as white rice and kefir. These additions introduced many more carbohydrates into my diet and knocked me out of ketosis. Due to the difficulties of my symptoms after workouts and how long I'd been off keto, I decided not to do my planned once-per-year five-day water fast. Also, I have never done an extended fast while on a ketogenic diet, so for the sake of experience and science, I would like to see if when I'm fully keto-adapted if I have fewer negative symptoms such as increased nerve pain and fatigue with an extended fast.
I'll target early August for the fast after a full month of keto, and a pause in my schedule allows for it.
Weight Training Progress
There's not much to say here. For the most part, I held steady on what I lifted, but I set records on my triceps kickbacks, chest flys, overhead press, calf raises, and biceps curls despite suffering on other exercises such as bench press and squats. The main change was adding extra days off. I tended to start out weakly and get stronger with each set. This weakness made for poor results on my compound lifts, but good results on the accessory lifts that followed. Then, I would get inflamed and feel lousy the evening of working out and the next day or two. As I mentioned previously, if I don't experience improvement with pain after exercise soon, I will back down the weights on each exercise to tease the nervous system more gently than I am at present. Despite the setback, I am lifting at or near record highs.
And for the first time in a year, I didn't go bouldering during a month.
I'll be headed to Washington to D.C. and then to Ketocon for the first couple of weeks of July. That much travel will put my health-management toolkit to the task. I am confident that I will report managing it well in my next recovery story update. I'll see you on the other side!
To your best health,