If you’ve seen a picture of me from the Saturday of the Healthy Living Summit, you may think you’ve seen Zombie Then Heather Said. This is that story.
I learned a pretty big health lesson this summer, and of course, the climax of the tale happened during the Saturday sessions of the Healthy Living Summit.
Here’s a few newsflash items you can all say “doh!” to: sleep is IMPORTANT. rest is IMPORTANT. and caffeine is a drug. for real.
[psst: there is a pretty long story ahead. If you stick around through to the end, you might win a prize. you’ve been warned.]
I love being productive and thrive on list making and organization. The months leading up to the Summit I chose to work my ass off, determined to make this year’s HLS weekend the best one yet. I decided to put lots of time and energy into growing HLB, putting in honest effort and work into making the Summit special, and managed to also be given a new position at my office job. Training someone to take over my position while I learn my own new roles and tasks meant that my work days always felt full, and yet I still came home every single day after work and did some sort of “internet work.” Even with so many hours logged in the evenings Monday through Friday, I still managed to spend anywhere between 10 and 14 hours doing the same each Saturday and Sunday this summer. Looking back now, that seems crazy.
Let’s get this straight: I didn’t mind the work, at all. I am passionate about the HLB community and loved getting to be a part of creating this year’s Summit weekend. I enjoyed all the little administrative tasks and the super fun creative ones, too. I think you could hear it in my voice if you ever talked to me about HLS the days leading up to the event. I loved getting to work so closely virtually with some of my favorite women in blogging, for the weeks leading up to our gathering, and that this experience gave me an opportunity to meet so many new friends, too.
I learned so much about myself, of course, the less than three months I worked towards the Summit. [I just looked up the date to verify this and I am baffled by the fact that I only was a part of Summit planning for that short of time. It seems like it was much longer than that! No wonder I am writing this post…] Things I’m still having revelations about these days, of course, because –you may remember, I’m a tad bit hippie about some things.
It’s important key to success in the way I work that I stay (and more importantly feel) organized. Organization takes time. This meant nights staying up waaaaaay past my bed time preparing for the week ahead along with early morning trips to the office to get a grip on the day before everyone else rolled in. Some weeks, to borrow a popular phrase you most likely hate, it felt like I was doing all I could do to keep my head above water. The number of Google Documents* created between June and August in my life is not only ridiculous, but also a little bit awesome. The love I have for Google can not be measured.
At the same time as my love for Google was on the rise, my love for a major vice started coming heavily into play. Caffeine in replacement of sleep. It started like most things that creep on until they become a problem – with an innocent intake of coffee each day, to an energy drink on the evenings I needed to stay up late to meet deadlines, or one with my breakfast if I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before.
It wasn’t too long until I was relying on the caffeine to keep me moving throughout the day. Could I have managed without two energy drinks in a day – yes. But I never even tried. I cut natural energy creating activities such as exercise (beyond my daily walk to the office) and eating clean, whole foods to a minimum and zeroed in on the upcoming weekend of HLS. As long as I could make it to that weekend and through that weekend, everything would be okay.
Eventually I bought bottles of CVS brand caffeine pills when I realized it was a most cost effective method to getting me through the work that needed to be done. The closer HLS got on the calendar, the more excited I was about the work I was doing – which was leading to more work needing to be done, less sleep each night, and more caffeine intake by the day. I gave myself a pep talk. I could do anything for two weeks, and if I had to stay up late and get up early in order to get done what needed to get done, than so be it.
Two weeks before Summit, I was getting about 6 hours of sleep a night, drinking a Monster on my way to work at 6:45 AM, before my 9:30 AM daily meeting I would take either a half of whole pill – depending on how tired I was feeling. If it was a particularly hard day, I may have another energy drink after lunch. Then in the evenings I would choose between a latte, Monster, or caffeine pill – depending on the amount of work I was hoping to get done that night.
The week before the summit I was sleeping even less. Four hours a night, most nights, leading up right until the late night prepping last minute (and packing last minute, too) until almost 2:00 AM, followed ever so closely by a 5:00 AM wake up call Thursday morning to start loading the car to get on the road to Boston. To suggest I had a small dependence on caffeine is laughable – I truly felt like I needed it to survive.
I joked to several bloggers about my unhealthy caffeine habit while planning and putting on the healthy living summit. Though I tried to make it a laughing matter and lighten the subject, I hadn’t stopped the caffeine intake once I reached the Hyatt Regency Cambridge as I originally told myself I would. I was still depending on energy drinks to get me through swag stuffing, registration preparing, check in executing, and cocktail partying. And, after a very last minute 12:30 AM trip to a 24-hour Fed-ex/Kinko’s, a Saturday full of Summit sessions arrived and I braved my 5:00 AM alarm with a Monster Rehab. Approximately one hour later, I added a caffeine pill to my body and never really woke up from the haze I found myself in before leaving my room that morning.
I didn’t have any caffeine through out the day, and though I loved every session I sat in, I did myself a disservice by not being healthy enough to truly enjoy, embrace or participate in the Summit sessions. [Thankfully I wrote every session recap for the Summit website, so I at least feel like I have a good understanding of the highlights of each session.] I knew I had completely overdone it with the caffeine and had made several unhealthy choices in a row, but I refused to beat myself up over what had already been done. Getting through and experiencing the Summit as best I could was the new goal of the day.
I tried to focus on the healthy decisions I could make each time I found myself at a stand still. I made sure to eat something healthy and nutritious every 2 hours or so and never stopped drinking water throughout the day. I easily drank 16-24 ounces every hour or so. My body was craving the hydration. When I felt myself feeling especially exhausted I reached for snacks with a little bit of sweetness to spike my blood sugar. A few sips of a Sierra Mist was necessary at lunch, and I had two cups of my beloved Musselman’s applesauce throughout the day. I grabbed a tastes-just-like-banana-bread-in-bar-form Soy Joy bar when I needed something with a bit of protein, too.
The morning sessions were definitely easier on me, and I could feel momentum leaking from my body as the day progressed. I remember tweeting up a storm at the first session of the day, and loved participating in Julie’s Design Boot Camp, too. I took tons of photos before lunch and then barely managed to snap one each session afterwards. It was pure community-driven passion and adrenaline that got me through the Newbies Q & A Discussion. [though it was definitely a highlight of the weekend! LOVED that chatting!] I loved listening to the ladies on the Blogging Ethics panel and could have listened to them for the entire day – but I know that I was half checked out by the time they were wrapping up.
When it was finally time for closing remarks and the raffle, I was broken. I didn’t feel like I was a part of my body, and I could feel myself losing steam rapidly. At one point as I was handing out raffle prizes to the various winners across the room, I laughingly suggested “How about some prize runners from Team HLB” – but truthfully, Alicia and Kelly came to my rescue big time by taking over, because I really felt like I was going to pass out at this point in time. I knew we were nearing the end and just tried to focus on the fact that soon I would be able to lay in my hotel bed and sleep.
I apologize to anyone who tried to talk to me during or after the closing remarks. I am sure I was less than friendly and I have very little memory of what happened during that time. I do remember people leaving the ballroom, Nick coming downstairs to help us carry stuff up to the room, and turning to Alicia and Julie and telling them I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it up to the room without vomiting.
We shuffled our way to the elevators with our crap ton of belongings and slowly made our way to the front of the seemingly never ending line of guests wanting to make their own ways to their rooms. Eventually we made it to our door and I made my way to the bath room and changed into pajamas. Not 90 seconds after walking into the room did I find myself sitting on the bathroom floor hugging the toilet. All that food I ate to fuel me through the day no longer wanted anything to do with me, it would seem.
I showered, climbed into bed and took a nap. I woke up 15 minutes later and felt 100 times better, but stayed in bed. Julie did a great job of bringing me cold water and crackers and staying quiet and let me rest, sneaking out for dinner after I had fallen asleep again. There were some more trips to the bathroom and much more time sleeping that evening, until I woke up starving, looked over at Nick and suggested we get dinner STAT. [That’s where Big Daddy’s came in!]
After dinner I felt a lot better and headed out to get some fresh air with Nick. On our way to the bench outside the hotel we ran into a group of friends returning from dinner with Chobani. I was so happy to see some friendly faces when I felt a bit more like myself, and after a quick walk outside with Nick, I headed up to visit Courtney, Kelly and Alicia in their room before heading up to bed.
The next morning I felt a lot more like myself. I did my best to make my rounds at breakfast and have quality conversations with as many people as possible, knowing that I missed out on so many opportunities to do so by being either so busy or out of it for the previous days at the Summit. I wish I could rewind the clock and spend time with each and every person I met during the weekend – the time went by way too quickly.
I’m happy to report I haven’t had any caffeine pills or energy drinks since the Saturday morning of Summit weekend. I haven’t cut out caffeine completely and I now drink 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day. The way I feel about caffeine these days is completely different than a month ago, though.
I know I abused caffeine as a drug. I can hear myself saying the things you hear in Life Time movies. I was only going to rely on it until the Summit was over. It was a short term thing, it couldn’t hurt me. I was in control of the situation and could have stopped drinking the energy drinks and taking caffeine pills if I really wanted to. It seems so after school special. Of course I see the Jessie Spano So Excited episode playing in the background…
The week after HLS, I did a lot of sleeping. I just didn’t want to think about anything. I wanted some time to let my body recuperate and my mind clear itself. In the beginning of the week especially, I spent a lot of time in my bed. The smartest decision I ever made was taking Monday and Tuesday after Summit weekend off from my office job. I needed to be still for a few minutes. I took several naps. SEVERAL. Monday after HLS was deemed “DAY OF THE NAP” in all of my date books and calendars. I’ve decided I’m going to stop being one of those people who judge naps as productivity-thieves. Naps might be the most necessary tool to creativity. I’m choosing to believe it!
As luck would have it a few weeks before HLS, Obasan, an awesome Organic Mattress and bedding company, contacted me about doing a product review. Obasan makes luxurious 100% organic products and is a company passionate about educating people on how to get a better night’s sleep as well as how to live in a chemical free environment.
The great people at Obasan sent me a Saguenay 2.0 Queen Sized Shredded Natural Rubber Pillow to test drive sleep. This luxurious pillow retails for $139.00 and had me feeling like the Princess of Napland every time I laid down with it. I wouldn’t have ever thought of spending over $100 for one pillow, myself – but I must say that you get what you pay for when it comes for quality and comfort. This pillow is filled with shredded natural rubber and some how manages to both have support and be cozy at the same time.
One of my favorite features is the pillow cover. It’s removable for easy laundering, of course. (with a zipper on both sides for easy removal!) Even more impressive, however, is the fact that it has two different surfaces, one on each side of the pillow cover. Silky organic cotton on one side and organic cotton jersey on the other. Perfect for those of us who change their bedding preferences with the seasons!
Obasan products are chemical free and won’t hold dust mites. And because everybody and every body is different, customization is key to their mattresses. If I was in the market for a luxury sleeping situation, I would turn to Obasan. [Hopefully, one day I will have deemed myself successful enough to be in the market for a luxury sleeping situation!]
Do you want some luxury napping tools of your own? Here, let me help you get one step closer: Obasan has offered to give away one of their luxurious pillows to a Then Heather Said reader, as well!
- Giveaway for: One Obasan Saguenay 2.0 Queen Sized Shredded Natural Rubber Pillow
- How to enter: Leave a comment on this post.
- Giveaway ends: Wednesday, September 19th 12:00 Noon EST
- Winner: to be chosen at random and notified via email.
*Side note: I had a request at HLS to teach about my use of computer tools to get the blogging job done – is this something you guys would like to see here? I have a few favorites I’d love to share with interested parties!