How Do I Know How Far I Can Push Myself?

Happy Super Sunny Saturday to you!

What a glorious day to be out and about in the gentle Autumn sun and light breezes.  The heat of the sun is probably a littler warmer than gentle, but soon enough that warmth will dim and Winter will be upon us - enjoying these last weeks or so of the sun's glow is a great way to top up your Vitamin D before the chill sets in.

Many patients I see who have been through an illness or are currently recovering from an injury want to eagerly know when they can get back to their normal duties and their usual activities - the things that they do that reassures them that everything on the inside is ok again.

In essence - they want to know how far they can push themselves in the way they did before.

When I consider this question, I like to align my answer to ceiling heights in a building.  For example someone with little or no history of illness or injury, family history of chronic diseases and a relatively low to moderate stressful lifestyle would be considered to have a high ceiling height.  Couple that with strong iris fibres in the eye and a stable and well working digestive system - and that ceiling is reliably lifted to allow for a little extra mental and physical effort.

Conversely, if someone has a history of a number of decent viral or bacterial infections in one or a number of body systems (gut, respiratory, urinary, skin), recent or current digestive irregularities and suffer with emotional nuances similar to anxiety and depression or persistent irritability - their ceiling would be much lower than the high ceiling person.  Couple that with wavy or weakened iris fibres, presence of consistent pain and a family history of chronic illnesses both past and present - and the level of physical and mental pressure this person can endure is much lower and for less duration.

Finally, if someone has recently been treated for an illness or injury and is still experiencing a level of pain (above 5/10 most days) or fatigue (below 5/10 most days) and are still medicated for this condition - immediately their ceiling is low and is reminded to heed this when trying to return to normal duties.  The first goal is to raise the ceiling height on their health in order to recover their energy levels and pain management, and rely less on non necessary medication.  It is all in the success of recovery between returning to normal activities - even if your ceiling was high before, if your recovery activity is slow, your best approach is to keep working towards measured results that show your body is responding to rehabilitation efforts.

Here are some signs your body may show you that would indicate you are not ready to push too far for too long:

  1. Fatigue returns quickly following a day of work or an hour of exercise to the point where you feel you need to lay down, sleep or sit for long periods
  2. Your appetite and thirst are 'deranged'- meaning you don't have a regular pattern of eating and drinking for hydration (mostly shifts to the evening and daytime appetite is lowered or absent, or you are unable to get enough food/beverages in to satisfy your hunger/thirst at odd times of the day)
  3. Sleeping is irregular - too long or broken - and not waking refreshed
  4. When you exercise you feel as though you are coming down with something
  5. Your temperature regulation is all over the place and when you feel hot - others feel normal temperature relative to the season - regardless of hormonal flushing
  6. You feel aching and pain regularly when you are upright and doing usual things
  7. The thought of driving is exhausting
  8. Your emotional reactions to normal activities and situations are not in alignment with what is actually going on - erratic and irritable responses are common.  Also apathy and poor resilience are presenting.
  9. Your bowel habits have not reset themselves after the event or medication that was used to recover your system.
  10. It is an effort to socialize, think, converse with others more often than not

Remember - some events and illnesses draw a line in the chronological sand of your health journey and must be considered when trying to reinvent yourself to before the event activities and lifestyle pressures.  Sometimes assistance is required to help get you back to the other side of the line.