As I'm nearing the halfway point of the year and subsequently my one Ultra a Month quest, I find myself struggling. In a recent podcast, I talked about consistency being the key when going through lifestyle/behavior change and trying to balance consistency in all areas of our life can be difficult. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming. Trying to balance a heavy training load, working full time, family schedules and logistics, and trying to consistently post podcasts and blogs leaves little time to decompress. Realistically, I know that this is self-imposed because my core responsibilities are my family and providing for them, everything else is optional. I know that there are a lot of people out there trying to figure out how to balance. When I first began this journey, I was fueled by the excitement of starting something new, but now that I'm almost halfway into it, that initial honeymoon phase has worn off. This is not uncommon with any lifestyle changes, so don't feel down.
The first thought that a lot of us have is to start to eliminate the optional things. This isn't a bad idea in all cases, however when we are trying to make healthy changes, this optional things that usually get cut first are the very things that we are trying to accomplish our goals...i.e. not going to the gym anymore, eating more and more cheat meals or becoming lax with our macros...pretty much everything that happens between the third and fourth week of January.
So let's talk about another option. For me, lately, I have found myself becoming more and more fatigued and tired without being able to recover. The engineer in me began going through a root cause analysis. On a side bar, I have found that implementing some Six Sigma principles into solving health and fitness issues is pretty effective, but I will go into that in a later post. So as I went through my FMEA or HFMEA as I refer to it, I came up with a few different issues.
First, doing two weeks of two a day training took a huge toll on my body. I did a podcast on this, but to summarize, most of the time in training, more is only more, not more is better. Secondly, I had a few bad nights of sleep...as in I did not sleep well or long enough and lastly, I was not eating enough.
This is not solved simply by eating more and taking a few naps. I have a race coming up this weekend, so I need to maximize my time leading up to it while also making sure that my body will be able to perform. This means I will be doing a lot of active recovery work this week, some light runs, a lot mobility work, and enforcing a strict bedtime.
I don't want to oversimplify the solution or how I came to that, but I want to make it easy for you to identify your failure modes. I am working on my HFMEA template, but until then, write down what you are going through. If you are tired (like myself) start there and then write down everything that you have that is taking up your time. Work, Family, Friends. Write down what you are eating, how much you are sleeping, and what your activity or exercise habits are. This might take a few times to find an order that you like, but just writing things down will help you visualize (or actually see) all of the variables that are playing into what you are going through.
Here are a couple high level places to begin when looking a variables that play into how you are feeling. Keep in mind that these are starting points and can be broken down deeper individually. For me, I used training because it is one of the variables that apply to me, but yours may be simply activity or physical activity. Keep in mind that the body does not know the difference between working out at the gym and working at the house or doing yard work.
Diet can also be modified. For me, I opted more for energy balance, but you can modify yours to be macros, if you are struggling with weight loss or keto/lchf specific goals. There are a lot of different ways you can deep dive depending on what you are trying to root cause. For training, I used training load and HRV because of the specific volume that I have been doing, but again, you can break it down to other variables or factors under physical activity. Sleep is pretty self explanatory, but you could also look at quality in addition to quantity. Lastly, I used psychosocial as a broad spectrum category to cover how I'm feeling and interacting with everyone/everything...family, work, friends. Again, it's another category you could take into a lot of different directions. The whole idea not being to start a debate or discussion, but for you to have an idea for starting points and then you can develop it to fit your specific needs.
So now you have a starting point to help get back on track and to help you find your stride.