Prioritizing Recovery

We all know that recovery is vital to improvement. We also know that stress can impede recovery and cause catabolism of vital tissues (namely muscle and bone). On a more personal note, I'm going to document my recovery from a job that put me over the edge in stress, quitting that job, and hopefully a return to what I was capable of before.

I thought I had found my perfect (desk) job.

I was trained to be a research scientist. Lab burnout during my PhD program (I ran away screaming with a Masters degree) left me wanting the confines of an office and a desk. After a stint of unemployment, I found what I thought would be the perfect job for me: market research for the pharmaceutical industry.

Thing is, marketing is very competitive. And as a relatively small company, there was ground to gain, connections and accounts to secure, and competitive deadlines to make. Despite growing and hiring new employees, I found myself working evenings and weekends, losing sleep over work, waking up in the middle of the night and in the morning with a racing heart, and feeling on edge all day at the office.

This is not how I want to live

It's one thing to work overtime if you get compensated for it, or if the work give you a sense of purpose. But for all the hours and stress I was giving to my projects, I couldn't help but wonder "Why? What am I doing all this for?" In the end, all this stress was just making pharmaceutical companies more money.

In addition to that, stress was severely affecting my workouts. As someone who puts her health as a major priority, and has been active since my first ballet class at 5 years old, watching my numbers in the gym decline, my energy and drive wane, and my general sense of "being present" plummet, I knew I had to make a change.

Putting in notice = Full night's sleep

I finally made the decision to quit and move in a new direction. Not without shaking hands, I put in my two week notice and began preparing my project groups to continue without me. The timing was right, my last day came at a time after projects were done or when they were coasting a bit and could handle the transition.

Outside the office, something changed. I slept through the night, woke up feeling refreshed, and in the gym, my squat numbers slowly started coming back. The day I put in notice, I made an 80kg snatch. Not great, considering my best is 91kg, but it had been a few months since I had gone past 75kg.

Of course, with renewed peace and the ability to sleep through the night, I became more efficient at my job. Knowing that it was all going to be over soon actually made it easier to roll with the punches and have a good attitude about things in general.

It's been four days since the end of my job.

Monday I put 10kg more up in my clean and jerk than I had in months. It's not that I slept more, in fact, I got up earlier to get a head start on my studies. Tuesday, while I didn't make any break through lifts, I felt as though I had more drive and energy. The exertion felt good instead of like simple exertion.

I'm excited to see how things will continue to progress from here. And it will be interesting as I embark on a new career path how it will affect me in the gym. I realized yesterday just how much I thrive on feeling like an athlete, and that is something I have to prioritize and fight for.