A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. There’s some debate over who to give credit for this quote but I say it often to my kids. I’m hoping you will learn something from my recent experience.
We all have a certain amount of energy that has to be shared among different needs throughout each day. I like to visualize it as a whole pie (because who doesn’t like pie?) with different slices of pie going to serve different needs. There are way more energy costs than listed here, and surely they are not all equal in size, but this gives you a visual.
For the past 3 months my body has been fighting a tooth infection. Now I only noticed it here and there mostly but when it finally got bad, it got horrendous! I had one horrible, awful, no good, very bad 12 hours of pain. I was crying like a little baby while waiting for my prescription in Walgreens and a complete stranger bent over and hugged me in my chair and kindly said while rubbing my back, “I’m sorry you’re having such a rough day.” I could have had Covid for all she knew! (The fact that there is still kindness in the world is a whole other blog. I WISH I could find this SWEET woman and thank her!) The point is, I let the discomfort get to AGONY before I did anything about it. (Not smart.)
For the previous 3 months, it had just been an underlying nuisance. I didn’t notice it enough to do much about it. However, it was taking up some of my energy, whether I noticed it or not. In that time I got shingles and an allergy bout. I used to suffer these allergy bouts regularly years ago when I had leaky gut and I hadn’t had one in years. Those are the 2 obvious costs, but I’m sure my family would also testify to less patience than usual from me as well. I’m sure there were many small costs to my immune system fighting/ using up more energy than it normally needs.
Here’s another, more common example. Overall, exercise improves your immune system, but after a hard workout your immune system is suppressed for 3-5 hours. Why? Because the body has to prioritize where it will spend its finite energy. The most immediate need is to recover you from the workout… to regulate blood sugar, etc. (By the way, the same thing happens when you overindulge in sugar, except sugar does NOT improve your immune system over time.)
Our fight or flight systems are designed for balance and to keep us safe. When your body faces stress, real or imagined, defense mechanisms kick in to protect you. We face a thousand different stresses a day. What you eat can cause stress, and that can be different for everybody! Almonds are really good for one person, but can cause huge problems for another. How much and how well you sleep, how much water you drink, the air quality around you, your job, traffic, worry about your child or parent… all of it costs you energy, at the expense of something else.
I’m writing this in the hopes that you will learn from my mistake. Write out an energy audit on yourself and don’t forget about those silent costs we tend to take for granted. (IE decision making, will power, annoying colleagues.) Take note of where energy may be seeping out unnoticed and fix what you can to help all systems rev at their optimum level. I don’t know about you, but I want my metabolism revving, not just surviving.