I am not a health and fitness expert so I’m not going to attempt to talk about the science behind overtraining. I’m just going to tell you what happened to me. I began going to the gym seriously 2+ years ago after a 8 year break. During that time, I gained more and more weight and my blood pressure shot up. I finally adjusted my diet and began exercising in an attempt to stay off the blood pressure medication. I joined a very nice local gym which had just opened. It is a gym that specialises in MMA training. I don’t have any interest in fighting but I really liked the conditioning classes and so I began. Of course the classes were super tough but because it was a brand new gym, there weren’t that many people yet so I managed to keep up. Before you know it, I was stronger and fitter and I began to increase the number of classes I was taking. I could handle it, I thought and at a peak I was taking 8 classes a week. I loved the fact that I could do all those classes and keep up.
In between, I would take 3 week breaks here and there since I didn’t train when I went home to Tokyo and I had cataract surgery and had to stop for almost 4 weeks. I noticed when I came back, I was stronger. I thought it was strange and there were people at the gym who would suggest that it was a sign my body needed rest. Well, I just had three weeks off, that should be enough rest.
Then I took my annual summer holiday with my family. Since it is a holiday involving my entire family, I treat myself to a personal trainer to keep the stress levels down. I was chatting with him about my routine at home and he said to me, “that’s just a lot of stress on your central nervous system” a sentiment that was echoed on a programme I listened to on London Real TV. I also noticed that while I was away and training 3 times a week, I felt great and lost weight. So finally I began thinking about how much I was doing and came to the conclusion it was too much.
Since I’ve been home, I have added one more day off so now I go to the gym 4 times a week and do 5 classes and you know, I feel so much better and stronger when I go to class. I can go all out during the classes knowing that I have the next day to rest and recover. Maybe you know these things when you’ve been involved in sports your whole life. I never was, so it never occurred to me that you could do too much exercise. But as with everything else, it doesn’t matter what anyone says if you’re not ready to hear it. I’m glad I was ready before I did any real damage.
I am writing this in the midst of jet lag. In the last week, we have flown from Honolulu to Providence and have come home to London. It’s a lot of flying and frankly, airports are pretty much the same everywhere so we tend to identify them by what we ate there. It was a 5 week holiday and the theme was family.
For many years now, we have made the trip to Honolulu every summer. My sister and her family live there and my parents come in from Tokyo so it’s a family vacation for my side of the family. This means that while I am in a gorgeous setting with people I love, there is always drama. As my parents have grown older and less independent, the amount of arranging and negotiating that happens every year has increased. This year, with my dad still recuperating from heart surgery coupled with my mom’s fear of doing anything on her own meant that they needed constant attention. I tried to be philosophical about it but I must admit, there were times when I regretted going. My sister works full time and they aren’t on vacation while we are there so the burden fell on me to keep my parents entertained. Add to that two young adult children who are used to living their own lives thrust into a situation where they had to be with each other for long periods – more drama. I know I could have been far more gracious about it, but you can only do what you can do. I hope my parents went home thinking they had a nice holiday.
I also realized that in addition to a generation gap, my mom and I also have a major culture gap. I was raised mostly in the States and haven’t lived in Japan all that much. So while I consider myself Japanese, apparently my thinking is not typical. This led me to being frustrated with my mom’s inability to just come out and say what she wants whereas she thought she was being totally forthright. As far as I was concerned, she was being forthright at all the wrong times and not where it mattered. We were able to have some chats about this which is a first in our relationship. Maybe I’m finally growing up.
But I do realize that every year we get together we come away with shared experiences and memories. The joys and frustrations of being with family are what keep me connected. When you move as much as we have, home is not a location, it is wherever your family happens to be. Mine is messy, crazy and wonderful. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
image from www.Eyedoctorguide.com
I failed the vision test for my driver’s license renewal. This was not as great a shock as you may think since I have been saying for the last couple of years that I couldn’t see. My vision has never been great. I’ve been wearing glasses since the third grade after enduring a mortifying patch for lazy eye which didn’t work. Anyway, I have always envied people who could see clearly and could buy cheap sunglasses that didn’t need prescription lenses. Over the years, the cost of my glasses went up as my lenses became more complicated.
So failing the vision test, while not a surprise, was also a major inconvenience. I only drive once a year when I’m in the States. The thought of having to rely on someone else to get me places made me feel prematurely old. How many people do we know in their 80′s who still drive? And yet I couldn’t? So off I went to get a professional’s opinion on my eyes to see if I could still drive.
The kids have been going to a really nice eye doctor in a shop in Honolulu. Hubby stumbled on them by chance and the entire office is great. I’d never seen the doctor since my lenses are so fiddly I prefer to have them made where I live. But I went to him to fix my failed vision test. He examined my eyes and asked me several times if anyone had ever told me I had a problem in my left eye. After dilating my pupils, he confirmed that I have cataracts in both eyes, pretty bad in my left eye. So at the ripe old age of 52, I am having cataract surgery. I also have a bit of retinal damage and asked if that would prevent me from having lasik later. That’s when he told me the amazing news. When they do the cataract surgery, they can just replace my lens with a corrective one so that I don’t need lasik. I won’t even need glasses!!! Now this was the most unbelievable news I’d ever heard. Not only was I going to see much better, but I may not even need glasses to do it.
I am planning on getting it done when I go home but I didn’t even know where to start looking for a doctor. Then I remembered my good friend G was an eye surgeon in a prior life so I asked her. She asked her friend who came up with three names, one of whom had done the surgery for my ingrown eyelashes. What a coincidence. I was happy with the outcome of that surgery so I hope he can do this round too.
Oh and the vision test? After examining me, the doctor in Honolulu certified me fit to drive so my license is successfully renewed. Of course when I come back next summer, fingers crossed I’ll have bionic eyes. Watch this space.
Every year, my family meets up in Hawaii. We have been getting together like this probably for the better part of 20 years. My kids have gotten to know their cousins even though we have never lived close by. My parents get to see all the grand kids at the same time and I get to spend time in a place I love. I have also had the pleasure of seeing my nephews grow up into thoughtful, funny people who are also great athletes.
When I was younger and the kids were little, the entire vacation was spent “doing”. We’d have activities for the kids, pool, beach, museum, something to keep them occupied as well as the futile attempts to get them to nap. My parents were younger too so came with us on a lot of the outings. Then everyone got a little older and the pace slowed, there was less activity, kids wanted to sleep all the time and my parents wanted to sit more.
I think this year, we may have entered a new phase. The kids are grown ups now, capable of doing things on their own and familiar enough with the city that I don’t worry. Their cousin drives too, which adds a whole new dimension to their activity.
For me, it’s been a welcome change from the extremely hectic life I lead at home. There’s nothing to do but hang out and enjoy my family. Of course it is a multi generational family vacation, there are tensions and a fair amount of negotiating and coordinating before things happen, but I think our days of getting together like this are numbered as the children begin their lives away from us and my parents become less mobile.
So I grab a little me time before anyone wakes up and go walking on the beach. Then the rest of the day unfolds in a leisurely fashion, where does the time go? Before you know it, it will be time to go home and resume my life. I hope to remember with gratitude the warmth, fun and aggravation that is my family.