I Love What I Do ~ Why am I So Tired?

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Teaser on Bell Rock
After reading my Pilates Anytime bio and relating it to her own busy schedule, Tennille, a fellow Pilates instructor and PA member, sent me the following email:
I… have read that as an instructor, its good to break up your sessions so that you don't get DRAINED! Do you ever find yourself getting drained? What do you do to prevent that from happening? I teach 12 classes a week … and sometimes I find that I get exhausted, even though I absolutely love it!
I would appreciate any feedback you have!
Tennille’s question is a common one in the Pilates and fitness industry. I have asked myself some iteration of this question many times before. “If I love what I do, how can I feel so unmotivated?" Or "If I love all my clients, why are there days when I am relieved when they need to reschedule?” Why is it when we love what we do, we don’t think we should ever want to take a break, rest, or even play in a different sandbox for a little while? Joseph Pilates taught us about balance. He is often quoted for saying “Balance is between work, rest and play.” Heck, I quote this to people all the time! Yet here I am, needing to learn this lesson again (for the umpteenth time!). In fact, it was the timing of Tennille’s question that led to my rather long winded response to her. She asked her question to me in the middle of my attempt to restore balance to my overworked, under rested body. I am certain I shared way more information than she expected or even wanted me to. In the end however, we both wondered if other people could benefit by reflecting on their own relationship between work, rest and play as it compared to ours. For that reason, and with Tennille's permission, I include her email to me above, and my response to her below:
Dear Tennille,
I write this to you from Sedona, Arizona. I put my pug in the car, packed some food and good music and headed across the desert just to change the scenery. In fact, I came to Sedona specifically for restoration because in the midst of the most passionate and creative period of my life thus far, I have managed to drain myself significantly. The creation of Pilates Anytime began while I was teaching about 28 privates a week. I continued teaching that much over the next year because, simply put, I had to, and because I love my private practice. For the first 6 months, I hardly noticed the 4-5 hours of sleep I took to be a nights rest, or the frenetic pace I was operating at. If I noticed at all, I actually loved the high intensity, laser-like energy that kept me going. It was great. I was having the time of my life, and though I was busy, I was energized. I was creating. I was fulfilling a dream.
Then, I got tired. I got so tired I didn't even know it. I spent the next 6 months overriding the clear signs my body was offering me, telling me it was time to take a break. I neglected sleep, ate on the run, and worked out in a distracted state, often. My ability, or should I say, my excuse, for letting the intelligence of my body go unheard was filed in the compartment labeled, “but I love what I’m doing!”
I've never met a Pilates instructor who doesn't love what she/he is doing (okay one, but she quit soon after starting). To love what we do is great. To be inspired by what we do is a gift. To feel obligated to maintain a constant level of energy is actually insane and goes against the very things we are teaching. I have learned the hard way (more than once) that in fact, I am not the one person who can skip out on rest because I love what I'm doing. In the past I would wait until something gave. That "thing" was usually me. I'd get sick. Being sick was apparently the only excuse good enough for me to rest (I know, I know, that is a certain kind of sickness in itself, not to mention sad). As I become more aware of my habits, my tactics become sneakier. I stop before I get sick now, but I am still surprised to learn "but this is really, really important" is not enough to override one's need for rest.
What stopped me this time was realizing I was no longer creating. I was reacting. Reacting to life is not the model I want to follow. Over Christmas, I took a break largely because most of my clients were gone. During my break, I got a little bit of rest, and though it may sound surprising, the rest felt awful. I lost my edge. I was confused. I was unproductive. As the fog slowly lifted, I realized that what was emerging was the realization of how bone tired I was. A week was not going to come close to giving me the restoration I needed. This moment of realization was followed by the commitment to take at least 4 weeks off from clients, to open up space to create again, to offer myself and my body the rest I was desperate for.
When I think about how I need to recover, to restore, and to balance the scales a bit, I realize they are all remedies for one who has been ill. So you see, my excuse to rest seems to be the same as it ever was; it has simply become more sophisticated in its strategy. If I were to keep going at the pace I was, I am certain I was going to be sick, possibly with more than a cold this time. Actually, my personal definition of illness starts long before I am bedridden. It starts with lack of wellness. There are plenty of signs suggesting that for a few months before Christmas, I was not living well like I am accustomed to.
I am sorry I waited as long as I did to get myself here to Sedona, but I am also grateful for recognizing the need to do so. I believe in the Pilates Method, and I believe what Joseph said: Balance is between work, rest and play. I will always have to watch for signs that it's time to take a break. I love what I do for a living, I love what my partners and I are doing with PA, I am regularly inspired by what I learn while working and that makes it a little harder to want to take a break. Fortunately, my respect for the intelligence of my body is increasing all the time. I am choosing to sacrifice a few hours of “getting stuff done” more often in order to honor the messages coming in loud and clear from my body.
It turns out when I listen to my body; I discover it has been on my side all along.
May you find the rest you need, to keep you loving what you do.
Kristi
So to all the parents, athletes, Pilates instructors and practitioners, if you love what you do, make sure to give it a rest.
The Courthouse
Standing Scissors
Kobe resting before we even get to Sedona!
Bell Rock

Comments

Loved reading this Kristi, and thank you so much for sharing and with such honesty. I know I've felt "bone tired" so often the past few years myself and yet keep thinking I have to try harder to be super woman and figure it "all" out. Your wisdom is such a great reminder for us to take care of ourselves so we can continue taking care of others. Big hug and thank you for being such an inspiration! Next time we need a lunch date where you really do get to sit, relax and eat lunch - haha! I'll be coming to SB next month and will be in touch. All the best! Gina xo
Thank you Kristi! You are speaking the truth. I could not have said it better. Sometimes all we need is empathy and someone that understands how exhausting it is to "do what you love."
Stay well,
Joanna --Pilates instructor, Berkeley,CA
I have, and maybe remain, in the mode that I go-go-go until I get sick. Sickness being the only legitimate excuse to rest in my mind. I suppose part of it is being so focused on your goals that you think you have to spend every minute of every day working on that goal until it's achieved. Not very healthy thinking, but I'm guilty of it.
So well put Kristi~ I too know what it is like to be possessed so much by what and whom I love, that I neglect the rest so essential to health and life and love and balance. I'll take this reminder to heart, and practice the rest
I LOVE YOU!!!
Wow thank you for sharing this! Thank you for your inspiration and your honesty. You expressed what I have been feeling but couldn't put it into words. Thanks!
Wonderful words !!
Kristi, happy for you taking break and just putting it out there....very courageous! I hope you are well! Thinking of you and sending you lots of white healing light & love! D
Thank you to all of you for sharing your input here. Loving our lives, what we do and who we do it with, does not mean we are lucky. It means we are utilizing the gifts that we have been given. To rest and play along the way just let's us appreciate those gifts all the more... (I learned that from your classes Gil ).
Eloquently expressed. Thanks for inspiring us!
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